RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the executive director (ED) of residence life & housing (RLH), the director of residential communities (director) leads a departmental team with responsibility for more than 40 residential facilities. These facilities accommodate approximately 7,200 residential students. As a senior leadership team member, the director is engaged in all facets of the on-campus student experience. The role necessitates collaboration with personnel at all organizational levels to collectively work towards achieving departmental objectives.
With a focus on strategic and day-to-day stewardship, the director provides leadership of a vibrant, intricate, and student-focused residential hall operation. Central to this role is promoting student recruitment, retention, and academic enrichment specifically as it relates to student learning and development, equity and inclusion, and student engagement. The director navigates sensitive situations, which they must respond to adeptly and diplomatically to further the interests of the department and the university.
The residential communities team is comprised of educators providing student success strategies for university students in a residential setting. The director supervises the senior associate director for talent development and assessment, the associate director for equity and inclusion and upper-division programs, and the associate director of student leadership, civic engagement, and first-year programs. They also lead two additional assistant directors, 15 residence hall coordinators, five graduate assistants, and approximately 200 student staff members.
Other primary responsibilities of the position:
- Guide the residential communities team to formulate daily operational procedures, devise strategic programming initiatives, and manage responses to various issues.
- Support and develop residential curricula to guide student learning within the residence halls.
- Assist in advancing enrollment management goals, the division of student life, and the curricular and co-curricular objectives of the University of Delaware.
- Participate in developing and implementing strategic planning for RLH
- Oversee the department’s emergency on-call framework and establish protocols guiding staff responses to critical campus-wide situations, including student deaths, significant health and safety issues, and contagious illness concerns.
- Directly address sexual assault/misconduct and non-discrimination reports and serve as the main point of contact for the office of student conduct and dean of student’s response teams.
- Forge direct collaboration with the director of housing to create cooperative strategies to benefit current and prospective residential students.
- Serve on the student behavior consultation team.
- Serve on the office of equity & inclusion’s Title IX and non-discrimination policy response team.
- Represent the department at admissions and summer student orientation events.
- Direct the residence hall student leadership and governance development.
- Lead initiatives geared to greater community and civic engagement, student engagement, and student learning.
- Oversee residence hall equity and inclusion efforts and the equity and inclusion action plan.
- Ensure successful implementation of residential programs such as honors, living-learning communities, and thematic housing.
- Collaborate with academic departments and the university honors program to ensure the effectiveness of high-impact residential programs.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
A master’s degree, seven years of professional experience working with college students, and comprehensive residence life and student personnel administration knowledge are required. Candidates must have skills in organizational and group dynamics, student development, and cultural competency. Additionally, they must be adept at addressing equity and inclusion issues. Specifically, the candidate must demonstrate commitment to fostering a workplace culture of belonging where diversity and equity are core values.
A successful candidate must have demonstrated skills in supervision, effective employee engagement and development abilities, and training design and facilitation skills. They must effectively resolve student and family concerns and complaints while achieving student development and learning goals.
Additional characteristics of a successful candidate, as described by key stakeholders include:
- Creates and sustains an organizational culture focused on residential student success.
- Directs crisis management activities and facilitates procedures for distressed students.
- Develops and upholds policies that pertain to residence life and student development.
- Has advanced knowledge of Title IX, Clery Act, and ADA directives and guidance.
- Understands risk management mitigation and response.
- Demonstrates the capacity to analyze problems and strategically and effectively devise and convey solutions to those complex issues.
- Is proficient in collaborating with diverse constituencies within a dynamic community in a swiftly evolving technical landscape.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
The director of residential communities will serve as the inaugural director in this role for RLH. This position emerged in this current iteration during the 2022-2023 academic year as a part of a reorganization effort.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
This is an exciting time at the University of Delaware. With a recent student experience master plan approved, the director of residential communities will have many opportunities to innovate and create the experience for residential students. With a focus on student learning and success, the director must lead a team of educators to think strategically about how to meet the goals of the department, the division of student life, and the university.
The director of residential communities is expected to take a proactive leadership role, displaying a curiosity for the department’s history while collaborating with the team to embrace innovation and shape a more vibrant residential life unit for the future.
The residential life & housing department has a long history of residential curriculum adoption and development. A new director must have the skills to analyze and identify areas of strengths and opportunities for the current iteration of learning-centered programming within the residence halls.
Additional opportunities and challenges for the director of residential communities are as follows:
- A new leader would benefit from embarking on a listening and learning tour internally within the unit, the department, and throughout student life.
- The department has historically operated in a generally flat organizational structure, giving staff ample access to positional leaders. As a result, the department is focused heavily on relationships, which the new director must maintain while moving forward with important initiatives that support students and the department.
- The division of student life has also undergone updates and recent strategic planning. The director must familiarize and align themselves with the forward motion of the division and skillfully move the unit along in a parallel
- Once the director understands the goals of the department and division, they must find ways to effectively communicate the expectations for how their unit can meet those goals.
- The director will be able to grow academic initiatives for the department by further partnering with academic units to strengthen living-learning programs and incorporating additional faculty-involved, high-impact practices into the operation.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new executive director’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- As a successful leader, the director has tried new and improved ways to accomplish the unit’s work.
- The director has begun to establish and maintain relationships across the university, division of student life, and RLH.
- The director has acclimated to the daily management and responsibilities of the role while ensuring that the challenges of each day do not impede the need to maintain a visionary approach to the department’s future direction.
- The director has worked to build a lock-step relationship with the ED and worked together to meet the wide range of immediate needs for students and staff.
- The department’s relationship with academic units and faculty has deepened, and there is a better understanding of the health of current living-learning communities.
- The director has deepened student learning through faculty interactions and strengthened living-learning communities.
- The director has taken the time to understand what matters most to the current staff and taken specific action to acknowledge and address those interests.
OVERVIEW OF RESIDENCE LIFE & HOUSING
The department of residence life & housing is organizationally aligned within the division of student life, which was recognized as one of the “Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs” by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. The division of student life advances equity and inclusion, deepens student learning, and drives holistic development through education, experiences, and communities. Additionally, the division aims to lead a dynamic student experience and vibrant campus culture so all University of Delaware (UD) Blue Hens thrive throughout their lives.
Residence life & housing (RLH) plays a significant role in furthering the residential experience on the UD campus. RLH seeks to enhance student success and belonging through signature programs and operations, which align with the missions of the institution and of the division of student life.
Each year, RLH houses approximately 7,200 students in 22 buildings, providing a variety of living experiences and environments throughout the campus:
- Central—home to UD’s most historic buildings, lining The Green and offering a nostalgic collegiate experience
- East—home to two-thirds of the University’s first-year population, located east of Academy Street and the Perkins Student Center
- Laird—home to UD’s suite-style housing units
- Apartment-style Living
OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF STUDENT LIFE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE
Student life comprises 14 departments and more than 190 full-time staff who provide many nationally recognized co-curricular experiences and services in career readiness, engagement, equity and inclusion, and wellbeing for undergraduate and graduate students. Through this work, student life aims to lead a dynamic student experience and vibrant campus culture so all Blue Hens thrive throughout their lives. The student life mission and vision are supported through the following student life values:
- Amplify Student Voice
- Pursue Equity
- Transformational Collaboration
- Learning and Innovation
- Integrity and Respect
Read more here about the division of student life’s recent reorganization and review organizational charts.
Dr. José-Luis Riera, Vice President for Student Life
José-Luis Riera has more than 15 years of professional experience in student affairs and higher education administration, encompassing various experiences and responsibilities. Riera earned a bachelor’s degree in music and biology from Muhlenberg College, a master of science degree in student affairs from Colorado State University, and a doctorate in college student personnel administration from the University of Maryland. Riera oversees an exemplary staff whose vision is to inspire students to become thriving individuals who will enrich their communities and make meaningful contributions to society as engaged citizens. Through his work, Riera seeks to promote student success and facilitate learning, development, and career readiness for students within communities that value wellbeing, social engagement, and inclusion.
Riera has made numerous presentations on student life topics at national conferences. He is a member of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), College Student Educators International (ACPA), and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). He is also the author or coauthor of several articles in professional journals and book chapters. His scholarly interests include student leadership development, leadership innovation, and spirituality within higher education. Riera previously served in positions at the University of Maryland at College Park and Drexel University before joining the University of Delaware’s student life staff in 2010, where he served as associate dean of students and dean of students. Riera was appointed vice president for student life in November 2018.
Dr. Nicole Long, Assistant Vice President for Student Experience and Belonging
Nicole Long is the assistant vice president for student experience and belonging in the division of student life at the University of Delaware and has served in various capacities since 2015. Currently, she is responsible for a portfolio that includes fraternity and sorority leadership and learning, residence life & housing, university student centers, and student life assessment, research, and data analytics. Long’s career in higher education includes work in institutional research and assessment offices, as well as nearly 20 years of progressive leadership in student affairs administration in the areas of diversity, student conduct administration, and fraternity and sorority advising.
While serving in administrative capacities, Long has maintained faculty appointments in education graduate programs and served as a reviewer for the Journal of College Student Development, Research in Brief. She is a professionally engaged leader in higher education, with current service as an advisory board member for the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) and as a peer evaluator with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education national accreditation organization and past service as board chair for Student Affairs Assessment Leaders (SAAL). In 2017, ACPA-College Student Educators International bestowed Long with the Annuit Coeptis emerging professional award. Most recently, Long was named an inaugural Aspen Index Fellow in 2021 by the Aspen Institute, where she is working to advance leadership capacities among youth and college students. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from DePauw University, a master’s in college student personnel from Ohio University, a PhD in counseling and personnel services, and a graduate certificate in measurement, statistics, and evaluation from the University of Maryland, College Park.
The University of Delaware is a land, sea, and space grant institution located in Newark, Delaware, with additional campuses located in Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, and Lewes. As a technically advanced institution founded in 1793, UD is proud of its strong tradition of distinguished scholarship and over 200,000 alumni worldwide. With successful progress toward their mission, students and administrators seek to develop knowledge, cultivate learning, and support the free exchange of ideas. UD supports a total enrollment of 23,613 students who enjoy over 150 majors and minors, and over 250 graduate and post-baccalaureate programs in ten colleges and schools.
Newark is conveniently located one mile south of the tripoint, where Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania meet, and within one hour of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland.
The Student Body (Fall 2022 data)
Total enrollment: 23,613
American Indian or Alaskan Native: 0.1%
Black or African American: 6.1%
As prepared by the Diversity and Equity Commission and the President’s Diversity Initiative:
“The University of Delaware’s educational mission is to prepare students to live in an increasingly interconnected and diverse world. To do so, we are committed to fostering a robust educational environment that supports critical thinking, free inquiry, and an understanding of diverse views and values. We see diversity as a core value and guiding principle for our educational mission and thus must work to make diversity an integral part of everyday life on campus. To this end, we take diversity to mean both the recognition and appreciation of the different backgrounds, values, and ideas of those who comprise our campus, as well as a commitment to ensuring that all people on our campus are treated according to principles of fairness, civility, dignity, and equity. We are committed to building an educational community that understands people from different backgrounds and economic circumstances, with different needs, and from diverse personal and philosophical beliefs. We want to make all people who are part of the university feel welcome and valued in campus life.”
Dennis Assanis, President
Dennis Assanis is the 28th president of the University of Delaware. Assanis was elected to the position by the UD board of trustees on November 18, 2015. He took office on June 6, 2016, and was formally inaugurated on December 7, 2016.
Assanis is a distinguished educator with a wide range of academic leadership experience and a worldwide reputation as a scholar and expert in both fundamental and applied studies of internal combustion engines and energy systems. In 2019, Assanis was named to the new National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers, an initiative of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Council on Competitiveness.
Before coming to UD, Assanis served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University and as vice president for Brookhaven National Laboratory Affairs. He previously taught and conducted research at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The University of Delaware’s overall benefit plan has long been recognized and valued because of its comprehensiveness and competitiveness in the market. To view the full benefits offered at the university, see here.
Click here to learn more about joining the student life team.
Click here to learn more about joining the residence life & housing team.
Review of applications will begin October 10, 2023 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 Julie A. Leos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
Delaware is a state that does not require public salary disclosure. For more information on salary, please contact Julie A. Leos.
Visit the University of Delaware website at www.udel.edu
The University of Delaware is committed to assuring equal opportunities to all persons and strives to hire, retain, and promote highly qualified faculty and staff without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, marital status, genetic information, age, disability, veteran or handicapped status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, or other protected status, except when one or more of the factors is considered a bona fide occupational qualification and/or when an accommodation would cause undue hardship to the university.