Position Description

The Director of Housing and Residence Life (HRL) is responsible for planning, directing, and leading self-funded, university-owned-and-operated residence halls and apartment housing (6,000 beds) on both the Allendale and Pew Campuses. Reporting to the associate vice provost for student affairs, this is a leadership role within the university and division, and is responsible for creating conditions which foster student learning, engagement, and success, while also assuring that the department is contributing to overall division and university objectives. The director will provide visionary leadership and essential oversight for a comprehensive, contemporary, professional, innovative, and service-oriented Housing and Residence Life department. The nature of the role may shift over time and requires adaptability depending on student, division, and university needs.

Key responsibilities for this position:

  • Design and implement a vibrant residential experience that supports the university’s purpose and values while assuring meaningful connections with the academic community, high student satisfaction, a strong sense of student community and self-governance, assessment of learning environments, and disciplined focus on safety and security.
  • Provide visionary, strategic, innovative, flexible, and change-oriented leadership for the department, which oversees approximately 6,000 beds in 21 living centers and 18 campus apartments and over 1.9 million gross square feet.
  • Recruit, train, and supervise approximately 40 professional and graduate staff, 115 resident assistants, and over 80 student employees, assuring positive organizational culture, empowerment with accountability, personal and professional growth, and congruence with university and division values and expectations.
  • Champion current and future student housing needs, assure that department offerings are inclusive, and assure that an acceptable educational philosophy supports changes and initiatives.
  • Use data and predictive measures for department planning and decisions and evaluate and supervise programs, services, facilities, and staffing using assessment, best practices, and institutional context to make adjustments as needed.
  • Collaborate and work closely with faculty and staff in supporting the academic, professional, and personal needs of students, and partner for program and idea development.
  • Evaluate, modify, and implement programs and initiatives focused particularly on the first-year experience, using research, best practices, and institutional context; work to improve retention within university housing facilities and at the university overall; augment efforts to develop more comprehensive and cost-effective learning-living and theme communities.
  • Develop protocols to respond to emergency issues on a 24-hour basis; participate in campus emergency planning; ensure compliance with all relevant policies, procedures, standards, and laws; and conduct regular policy reviews to align organization with compliance and other obligations.
  • In partnership with division and university finance colleagues, take responsibility for business and financial operations; construct, monitor, and adjust budgets of approximately $56 million; determine financial operating models and other strategies to ensure long-term stability; identify new sources of revenue and cost efficiencies for short and long-term success; and formulate fiduciary policies, budgets, contracts, and operating systems for the department.
  • In partnership with university law enforcement, legal, and other colleagues, take responsibility for safety, security, compliance, and risk management in campus housing facilities.
  • In partnership with division and university facilities and auxiliary colleagues, take responsibility for assuring high-quality spaces, dining, and summer conference operations; assure that long term strategic and capital planning occurs for HRL, addressing the physical plant, programs, services, and capital funding.
  • In partnership with diversity, equity, and inclusion colleagues, provide vision and leadership for broad-based initiatives for students and staff, and support other colleagues working to create inclusive experiences, learning opportunities, and environments.
  • Maintain a high level of professionalism, personal integrity, and collaborative relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni, families, and external communities.
  • Maintain confidentiality and respond effectively to sensitive inquiries or concerns and serve on and/or support the Behavior Team, conduct processes, and other processes designed to support students.
  • Serve as a leader in and contributor to the profession.

The Position


A master’s degree in student personnel, higher education, or a related field, and at least ten years of full-time experience with progressively responsible supervisory and management experience in housing and residence life are required. The candidate must have demonstrated management experience with budget oversight, personnel supervision, and program development, as well as skill in interpersonal communication and collaborative relationship-building. The next director will have demonstrated a personal and professional commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence. In addition, the successful candidate will have the demonstrated ability to create a strategic vision and motivate others; experience in hiring, training, and management of professional and student staff; and experience providing both proactive and responsive support for students at risk or in crisis.

It is preferred that the candidate have a doctoral degree and extensive knowledge and experience with: leading significant facilities improvement and capital-renewal initiatives; leading emergency-response planning and preparedness; making public presentations to governing boards, peer leaders, or other high-ranking individuals; and developing and implementing strategic organizational vision and goals with and for staff and key stakeholders.

Campus stakeholders identified the following additional knowledge, capabilities, and experiences needed for success in the position:

  • a collaborative spirit and orientation that seeks out and values the expertise of others;
  • a proven record of hiring, developing, and coaching a high-functioning team;
  • a passion for staff development that focuses on team dynamics, mentorship, shared vision, clear expectations, and a culture of accountability for administrative and union professionals;
  • a clearly articulated understanding of and unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a record of success in supporting the needs of a highly diverse student body;
  • an understanding of strategic enrollment management and the role that housing and residence life can play as a campus partner for student recruitment, persistence, and retention;
  • a commitment to support and advocate for the student experience;
  • an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that adapts to change and has the capacity to lead change efforts;
  • a talent for communicating broadly throughout the institution, with professional savviness that is credible, approachable, and nuanced;
  • strategic, collaborative, and decisive decision-making;
  • clear and passionate communication about the value of housing and residence life in student success, and creation of a first-year experience that espouses that value;
  • comfort with a culture of assessment and demonstrated experience facilitating strategic planning and monitoring the associated outcomes;
  • active engagement in the profession, contributing to best practices and engaging in scholarship at local, state, and national levels;
  • experience managing and leading facilities strategic planning and project management;
  • an unwavering commitment to diversity and the creation of professional spaces that are equity-minded and inclusive; and
  • positive, inspiring, and thoughtful contributions to the Grand Valley State community.

History of the Position

In his current role, Andrew “Andy” Beachnau, PhD, associate vice provost for student affairs, is responsible for overall leadership for Housing and Residence Life, Recreation and Wellness, Campus Health Center, and the Children’s Enrichment Center. Andy has been at Grand Valley State University for 37 years in a number of positions. He began his professional career at GVSU as a hall director in 1982 and became a residence life coordinator in 1984. In 1986, he became assistant director of housing and was later promoted to associate director of housing in 1990. After serving one year as acting director of Housing & Health Services, he was hired as the director of Housing & Health Services in 1995. Andy received his BA from Alma College in 1982 in political science and physical education, his EdM in education administration from GVSU in 1985, and his PhD in 1995 from Michigan State University in college and university administration. He has taught graduate courses in the College of Education since 1995. Andy will provide supervision for the new director and support strategic planning and vision-setting for the future of Housing and Residence Life at Grand Valley State University.

Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position

The director, housing and residence life must possess a broad and deep understanding of the current and emerging issues regarding housing, residential education, restorative justice, enrollment trends and projections, and institutional, state and federal regulations. It is important that the director be an experienced student-affairs leader with well-developed capacity to manage complex situations, committed to student success and advocacy at the highest level, committed to accessible, inclusive, and diverse systems, programs and policies, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and operational level within a dynamic, nimble, innovative, and highly respected division of student affairs.

In transitioning to Grand Valley State University, the director, housing and residence life will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges as described by university stakeholders:

  • Create a clear departmental vision and mission. It will be important to develop a strong team sense amongst staff, and to build working relationships that emphasize collaboration. Staff should feel encouraged, challenged, supported, and confident about how they contribute to the vision.
  • Leverage student-success data and evidence to “tell the story,” inform decision-making capacity, and enhance the student experience.
  • Develop a departmental strategic plan that addresses organizational structure, role-clarity and accountability, facilities maintenance, and capital planning.
  • Implement required housing for first-year students as recently decided for fall 2021. Contribute expertise and industry best-practices to a formalized first-year-experience program.
  • Provide leadership that can drive the diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for the department, division, and campus with a strong social-justice lens. Define and identify barriers for student success. Prioritize innovation, talent, and efficiency to advocate for student needs.
  • Establish effective relationships with campus and community partners. Community members should see working with HRL as critical to overall institutional success.
  • Think strategically about enrollment trends and growing external competition to on-campus housing, and how best to position HRL to maximize capacity while contributing to the institutional mission.
  • Bring a critical-thinking orientation and a supportive change-management style to the role. Encourage staff to ask “why,” advance new ideas that are “outside the box,” and inspire HRL staff to address challenges with creativity and industriousness.
  • Communicate with energy and enthusiasm the vision and mission of student affairs and the HRL department to a broad range of audiences.

Overview: Housing and Residence Life Department

The mission of Housing and Residence Life is to provide resources and opportunities for student learning and success by collaborating to build inclusive residential communities and experiences. “We strive to provide excellent opportunities for engagement and development in safe and inclusive communities through operational services, sustainable practices, and co-curricular learning and living environments grounded in best practices.”


“The Office of Housing and Residence Life values the education, success, and experiences of students and staff, through the following:

  • Student Development and Support: Support the development of student resiliency through problem-solving, conflict resolution, personal responsibility and advocacy, critical thinking, and wellness.
  • Liberal Education: Engage in learning through creative and critical thinking, self-awareness and active citizenship.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Provide inclusive and supportive environments where diverse voices and experiences are welcomed, celebrated and personal growth is encouraged.
  • Sustainability: Triple bottom line sustainability which includes economic, environmental, and social equity.”

Organizational Chart-Housing and Residence Life

Annual Report for Housing and Residence Life

Institution & Location

Grand Valley State University was chartered by the Michigan legislature in 1960 in response to the need for a public, four-year college in the state’s second largest metropolitan region. Grand Valley’s mission is to educate students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. Known for innovative and outstanding teaching, recognized scholarship, significant community engagement, and excellent stewardship of its resources, the university inspires and equips students to be active life-long learners and global citizens. Grand Valley strives to be a model public university shaping leaders for success.

Grand Valley attracts more than 24,000 students with high-quality programs and state-of-the-art facilities. Grand Valley is a comprehensive university serving students from across Michigan and dozens of other states and foreign countries, offering 94 undergraduate and 42 graduate degree programs on campuses in Allendale, Grand Rapids, and Holland. The university also offers programming and classes from centers in Traverse City and Detroit; Grand Valley’s Annis Water Resources Institute and the Muskegon Innovation Hub are located in Muskegon. The university is dedicated to student achievement, going beyond the traditional classroom experience with research opportunities and business partnerships.

Since its founding, Grand Valley has been deeply committed to the liberal arts and professional education. Grand Valley has a distinctive reputation as a large university with a small-college feel, where students receive personalized attention in small classes as well as customized, convenient, academic and career services. Additional details of the Grand Valley Strategic Planning, Assessment and Accreditation process can be found on the Strategic Plan, Assessment & Accreditation website.

Grand Valley intends to be a national model for equity and inclusion in higher education by implementing and innovating evidenced-based best practices and responding to regional and national trends, as well as by contributing to local and national discourse on the responsibility of higher education to provide equity and inclusion to all students, faculty, and staff. Grand Valley aspires to embody the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of our region and to be a resource for equity and inclusion in West Michigan.

Grand Valley continues to excel in the areas of graduation and retention rates, alumni who work in Michigan, and keeping down the cost of a college degree. The university uses what it calls the “Laker Effect,” a force for positive change that is driven by a determination to use knowledge for the common good. They take pride in making a difference by focusing on others and making lasting contributions.

Grand Valley has been named a top university by U.S. News & World Report. In 2019, it received gold status for the seventh consecutive year for sustainability efforts throughout all sectors of the school. In 2018, Grand Valley was recognized as one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges for the ninth consecutive year by The Princeton Review and was named a top performer in the country by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), achieving high-ranking spots in the categories of waste minimization, well-being, and work.

In September 2019, Grand Valley was named a recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The award recognizes Grand Valley for its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Institutional Leadership

President Philomena V. Mantella

Philomena V. Mantella is one of higher education’s leading entrepreneurs. She is a recognized leader in strategic planning, market expansion, and innovation of how education is delivered. Her drive comes from more than 30 years in higher-education administration. She has done path-breaking work while serving as an officer at public and private universities in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Massachusetts. She is the fifth president of Grand Valley State University, beginning her tenure in July of 2019.

Mantella has a PhD in college and university administration from Michigan State University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work from Syracuse University. She spent the last 18 years at Northeastern University as senior vice president of enrollment and student life and the chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network.

Known as a change agent, Mantella has had an integral role in expanding global markets and lifelong-learning efforts. She is a proven innovation leader in digital learning and enrollment management. Her comprehensive understanding of both sides of the educational market—learners and employers—has resulted in success for students and has increased the economic vitality of the markets served.

Mantella is committed to ensuring institutional integrity and building consensus for the mission and the noble cause of education. Her strong student-centered philosophy, coupled with her operational expertise and vision for the future of education, positions her perfectly to lead Grand Valley State University into its seventh decade.

Mantella has been married for 40 years to attorney Robert H. Avery; she has three sons and four grandchildren.

The Division of Student Affairs

The Division of Student Affairs helps students get the most out of their university experience and achieve personal, educational, and career success. The division is comprised of departments, programs, facilities, and services supported by more than 150 professional and graduate staff. The vice provost for student affairs and dean of students serves as the university’s senior student-affairs officer and provides divisional leadership for a staff that is eager to help students find their connections on campus.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Loren Rullman

Dr. Loren Rullman, the chief student affairs officer, serves as vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at Grand Valley State University, and has worked in student affairs administration for over 30 years at five universities. Prior to joining GVSU, he served as associate vice president for student affairs at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Throughout his career, he has been “an organizational leader, a culture-setter, and a people developer.”

Rullman has presented at over 40 conferences, authored 12 journal articles and book chapters, consulted for two dozen universities, and served on the Board of Directors for both the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education and the Association of College Unions International. Loren also served as founding program coordinator and adjunct faculty for the Student Personnel in Higher Education graduate program at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

Since his arrival in 2018, Rullman has worked with division leadership to focus student affairs efforts initially in areas of student health and wellness, student intervention and support, and student transitions and experience.  New positions in wellness, case/care management, retention, mental health, and veteran services have recently been added.  Two new full-time Coordinator positions in HRL have also been added; and this position of Director has been reinstated after several years of being blended with the Associate Vice Provost role.  These changes reflect renewed commitment to the student wellbeing, and the importance of the campus housing experience.

Rullman received a doctorate in educational leadership and policy from University of Missouri, St. Louis. He also has a master’s degree in higher education from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in advertising and Spanish from Valparaiso University.

Organizational Chart for the Division of Student Affairs

Benefits Overview

Grand Valley is ranked No. 2 in Michigan by Forbes in its list of America’s Best Employers.

Employees of Grand Valley State University enjoy the following benefits:

  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Flexible spending account
  • Health savings account
  • Prescription coverage
  • Life insurance and disability coverage
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Retirement planning

“The Division of Student Affairs consists of almost 150 full-time and part-time colleagues committed to student success… and yours!  We work together, learn together, and have fun together. Some information about the advantages of joining the team:” https://www.gvsu.edu/studentaffairs/prospective-division-of-student-affairs-employees-37.htm

“The Division of Inclusion and Equity, with support from the Human Resources Office, is proud to empower our employee affinity groups. These groups host meaningful events, engage in mentoring, and foster community among our underrepresented and diverse faculty, staff, and student populations.”


Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin April 14, 2020 and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Anne-Marie Kenney at amk@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Grand Valley State University website at www.gvsu.edu

Grand Valley State University is guided by values for inclusiveness and community which are integral to our mission to educate students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies, and to enrich the community through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service. The University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity institution. It encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs, and the use of its facilities. Members of the University community, including candidates for employment or admissions, and visitors or guests have the right to be free from acts of harassment and discrimination, including sexual misconduct, which are prohibited if they discriminate or harass on the basis of age, color, disability, familial status, height, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex/gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation, veteran or active duty military status or weight. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. See www.gvsu.edu/affirmative/. TDD Callers: Call Michigan Relay Center 1 -800-649 -3777.

Spelman Johnson has prepared this document based on personal interviews and information copied, compiled, or quoted in part from source documents obtained from our client institution, and as such, the contents of this document are believed to be reliable. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the original source documents and factual situations govern, and the material presented here should be relied upon for informational purposes only.