RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Wilkes University is seeking a director of athletics to lead a department of talented coaches and staff deeply committed to NCAA Division III athletics and the student-athlete model within the Landmark Conference. The director is responsible for a department consisting of 23 varsity sports, over 65 full-time and part-time professional coaches and staff, over 550 student-athletes, and a $1.5 million budget.
Wilkes is currently a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference. Wilkes has announced it will transition to the Landmark Conference in the summer of 2023.
Reporting directly to the chief student affairs officer for all operational matters, the next director of athletics will also serve as a key advisor to the president for areas related to the student-athlete experience and the unique role collegiate sports play at the university. The director fosters principles that encourage integrity, student well-being, diversity, and inclusiveness throughout all levels of the organization while promoting an environment of excellence and success. The director will develop, implement, and monitor policies and procedures that promote best practices and address personnel development, financial management, facility renovation and enhancement, alumni and community relations, and compliance and regulatory expectations while advancing a high level of integration of athletics into the overall student experience. In addition, the director works closely with the admissions office to recruit student-athletes and establish a high-level recruitment strategy. The successful candidate will be a steadfast collaborator and educator. As a senior member within the Division of Student Affairs, the director collaborates with other offices within the division and other key stakeholders, such as the Title IX attorney, the admissions office, university police, facilities management, dining services, and residence life. The director serves on the President’s Advisory Committee and the University Budget Committee.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS
A bachelor’s degree and significant, progressive leadership experience in collegiate athletics administration are required; a master’s degree and coaching experience are strongly preferred. The successful candidate will possess a comprehensive understanding of intercollegiate athletics administration, student-athlete development, facilities management and resourcing, NCAA compliance within a Division III environment, and the role of fundraising in supporting strategic and operational objectives. A collaborative management approach, coupled with superior communication and relationship-building skills, strong planning and fiscal competencies, an understanding of the role of enrollment at a small, private university, a familiarity with program development and assessment including risk management, excellent problem-solving abilities, and a high degree of cultural competence demonstrating respect for diversity of identities and experiences will be important considerations in the selection of the next director of athletics.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, institutional stakeholders identified the following list of additional capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:
- Significant understanding of NCAA Division III athletics in program needs, compliance requirements, university rules and regulations, and Title IX regulations.
- Commitment to an intercollegiate athletics program that operates with the highest integrity and is focused on the holistic development of its student-athletes.
- Transformative energy that builds a dynamic and cohesive unit of staff, coaches, and student-athletes.
- Experience developing a department mission, vision, and culture that embraces a holistic and equitable understanding of program success and supports a competitive environment.
- Understands the value of continuing education, training, evaluation, and professional development for staff and coaches.
- Successful change management experience grounded in clear communication.
- Ability to motivate and inspire others.
- Visibility and presence within the Wilkes community.
- Supports and celebrates the diversity of the university community and the richness of the educational and co-curricular experience.
- Collaborative and adaptable mindset, equipped to respond to changing dynamics.
- Advocacy of equitable student-athlete experiences and developed ways to amplify the voice of students.
- Passion for Wilkes and Colonel athletics that can translate into fundraising and “friend-raising.”
- Collaborative and focused capacity to build relationships and partnerships across campus.
- Support for the institution’s academic mission and student-athletes and an understanding of the intersection of athletics and academics.
- Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
- Exhibited ability to lead, collaborate with, and motivate a diverse community.
- Ability to build bridges as a dynamic, responsive, thoughtful, and articulate communicator.
- Demonstrated spirit of creativity and innovation.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
Addy Malatesta has announced she will retire at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. Malatesta has spent the last 34 years at Wilkes University, 23 of which have been spent as the athletic director. Malatesta received the 2019 MAC Lou Sorrentino Award, presented to the MAC athletics administrator who has sustained an influential role in the conference and national affairs and embodies the NCAA Division III philosophy. A national search has commenced.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
Wilkes is dedicated to finding a dynamic and visionary individual who can promote and develop the athletics staff, set departmental priorities, and work with senior administrators and department staff to progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively move athletics forward. Areas of focus for the new director of athletics include:
- Build cohesion and culture for the athletics department by establishing clear expectations and open communication and providing effective feedback while navigating a multi-faceted athletics operation with sound fiscal, supervisory, facilities, and operations management. The director will develop a strong sense of team among staff and build working relationships that emphasize collaboration, consistency, and equity.
- Develop a clear strategic plan and priorities for the department to address program equity and immediate and long-term staffing, facility, and fundraising goals and objective
- Create a shared vision and message for the athletics department integrated with the institution’s vision and commitment to excellence, and communicate it clearly and enthusiastically.
- Define and demonstrate an understanding of competitiveness both internally and externally that is reflective of the Wilkes mission and the goals of the Landmark Conference and the NCAA.
- Strengthen communication and collaboration between athletics and the larger institution—academic affairs, student affairs, facilities, etc.—focusing on increasing efficiencies and further supporting student-athletes.
- Lead efforts to forge strong working relationships and open dialogue with enrollment and leading coaches in collaborating more closely with enrollment around recruiting efforts.
- Support staff and coaches in identifying professional development opportunities and continuing to improve all aspects of the department.
- Embrace equity and inclusion, developing equity within the athletic program and culture engaged in ongoing education and dialogue about diversity, equitable practices and behavior, inclusion, and belonging.
- Passionate and enthusiastic stewardship of Wilkes and Colonel athletics, cultivating alumni and parent engagement alongside advancement staff to meet current and future needs with fundraising support.
- Exhibit creativity, humor, compassion, patience, and cultural competence.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
At an appropriate interval after joining Wilkes, the following items will initially define success for the new director:
- The director has successfully navigated the transition to the Landmark Conference, and members of the Wilkes athletics department are seen as strong contributors to the conference’s governance and operations.
- The director has demonstrated a leadership style that is credible and collegial while being highly effective.
- The director has assessed the current environment with the athletics staff and begun to define a comprehensive and equity-minded vision, mission, and plan for the future.
- Athletics staff can articulate a shared vision and mission and feel valued as members of the team. Staff appreciate that communication throughout the department has increased in quality and quantity.
- The director has defined, illustrated, and demonstrated internally and externally an understanding of competitiveness and student-athlete success that reflects the Wilkes mission and the Landmark Conference and NCAA Division III goals.
- The director inspires excellence and strengthens the opportunities within athletics with a focus on well-being and re-energized school spirit and traditions, and is inclusive of and seeks to engage all Wilkes students.
- The director is a visible and highly accessible advocate for the coaches, staff, and programs.
- Students see the new director as an approachable and accessible champion who supports programs, uses a student-centered orientation to build rapport with students, and seeks their input.
- The new director has established strong working relationships and partnerships with the admissions staff, student affairs leadership team, direct reports, student-athletes, faculty, alumni, Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), student government, and other key institutional stakeholders.
- The director will have demonstrated the ability to manage change for short-term and long-term development for the department, including staffing, professional development, facilities management, and strategic capital planning.
- The director actively engages with advancement and university leadership to support alumni engagement and fundraising initiatives aligned with the university and athletics departmental and strategic plans.
- The director can articulate a passion and commitment to the mission of Wilkes and Colonels athletics and student success and persistence by developing a culture of care and outreach.
OVERVIEW OF ATHLETICS
The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics places the highest priority on the preservation of student-athlete welfare. As an integral member of the university community, the department seeks to foster an environment that promotes the pursuit of academic excellence, offers an opportunity for achievement through athletics competition, and seeks to teach the importance of service to the community and social responsibility.
The vision of Wilkes athletics is to offer a broad-based intercollegiate athletics program committed to recruiting student-athletes of high character who value cultural diversity, social responsibility, gender equity, and principles of fair play.
Wilkes’ current athletics fields comprise nine facilities for the university’s 23 varsity sports. Club programs and intramural sports at Wilkes also take advantage of the facilities.
The Wilkes University athletic training staff is dedicated to providing quality health care to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of each student-athlete at Wilkes University. All athletic training staff members are responsible for the prevention, evaluation, management, rehabilitation, and treatment of injuries/illnesses that may occur during participation in athletics. The athletic training staff works with Geisinger system team physicians, the University Health Services staff, and surrounding medical facilities to provide the best care for our athletes.
Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
The SAAC membership consists of 46 student-athletes and two representatives per team. The SAAC leadership comprises a president, vice president, secretary, and social media coordinator.
Meetings occur once per month and sometimes, based on the number of projects, two times per month.
SAAC focuses on representing the needs and concerns of over 550 student-athletes. The priority of SAAC is to play a significant role in campus leadership by participating in and sponsoring community service events.
The SAAC reviews NCAA proposed legislation with the co-advisors and the athletic department NCAA compliance officer. The SAAC president submits the straw poll votes on proposed by-laws to the Conference office and shares the results with the director of athletics. The highlight of the academic year is the celebration of Division III week.
Wilkes University is an independent, comprehensive university dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts, sciences, and selected professional programs. The university has approximately 2,350 students at the undergraduate level and over 1,350 full-time equivalent students at the graduate and first professional levels. Its institutional focus is on developing strong mentoring relationships with each of its students and contributing vitally to the economic development of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Wilkes offers 43 undergraduate majors and 25 graduate programs. The university is located in downtown Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a city of approximately 45,000, part of the metropolitan area home to more than 550,000. Wilkes-Barre is within two-and-a-half hours’ driving distance of Philadelphia and New York City.
THE STUDENT BODY
Total enrollment: 4,781
The Office of Diversity Initiatives (ODI) serves students, faculty, and staff from underrepresented groups to develop a nurturing and empowering support system at Wilkes University.
The office serves persons from Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaskan Native, first-generation, disabled, women, and LGBTQ groups. The office’s primary goal is to foster an appreciation for the difference within the classroom and the community.
Greg Cant, PhD – President
Greg Cant is regarded as a visionary academic leader who grew enrollment at previous institutions by developing various innovative and market-driven programs. A native of Australia, he has 30 years of experience as an educator and administrator in the United States and abroad.
Cant was named the seventh president of Wilkes University on December 12, 2019, at a ceremony in the Sordoni Art Gallery, aptly surrounded by the photographs of presidential photographer Pete Souza. When he officially began his tenure as Wilkes president in late May 2020, the campus and the country were faced with significant challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among Cant’s first priorities as president was to oversee plans for a successful campus reopening for the fall 2020 semester. Under Cant’s leadership, a cross-functional group of university employees ensured that Wilkes students, faculty, and staff could experience a fall semester with residential opportunities and uninterrupted academic instruction.
Mark Allen, PhD – Interim Vice President of Student Affairs
Dr. Allen has served in various capacities at Wilkes University for thirty-four years. Currently, he is the interim vice president of student affairs. As interim vice president, he oversees several student-related areas, including athletics, residence life, student development, health and wellness, diversity affairs, and student conduct. His office is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs related to all aspects of student life and ensuring the university’s compliance relative to institutional, local, state, and federal requirements.
Dr. Allen is an adjunct faculty member teaching leadership-based courses for the Sidhu School of Business and Leadership, the MBA Program, and the First-Year Foundations Program. He serves on several university committees and has presented to various national professional organizations covering multiple topics. Before his experience at Wilkes, Dr. Allen worked for the State University of New York.
For information on the benefits offered at Wilkes College, see here.
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Visit the Wilkes University website at www.wilkes.edu
Wilkes University is constantly seeking to become a more diverse community and to enhance its capacity to value and capitalize on the cultural richness that diversity brings. The University strongly encourages applications from persons with diverse backgrounds. Wilkes University does not discriminate in its employment practices or its educational programs or activities based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, sex/gender, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, marital or family status, military or veteran status, or genetic information.