RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Director of Residence and serving as a vital member of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs’ Cabinet, the Director of the Memorial Union (MU) oversees and administers all facilities, programs, activities, products, services, and tenant relations within the MU. The operational and programmatic areas within the MU include Capital Projects, Deferred Maintenance, Student Engagement, Business Office, Event Management Office, Custodial Services, Mechanical Services, Parking Ramp, IT/AV, Tenant Services, Marketing, and Personnel. The Director cultivates and executes the MU master plan and the overall strategic planning process; develops and implements strategies for improvements, major repairs, new construction, and additions to the MU; devises and applies policies and procedures for the MU, student organizations, and student activities; and collaborates with student organizations and their advisers in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of events and activities for the campus community. As a critical leader in the Division of Student Affairs, the Director promotes and fosters a culture of collaboration and a campus climate where all individuals can thrive. The Director works closely with and serves as a member of the ISU Memorial Union Advisory Board, whose principal purpose is advising the university on all policies and priorities for facilities use and programming involving the MU.
The Director leads and manages a staff of 44, including five direct reports, and effectively administers an annual budget of $13 million.
Memorial Union Leadership
- Oversees the development and execution of strategic planning and long-range goals, ensuring alignment with the strategic plans of the Board of Regents, Iowa State University, and the Division of Student Affairs.
- Develops a master plan to implement MU design and construction plans with architects, engineers, student groups, the Memorial Union Advisory Board, and the university administration.
- Develops and implements operational policies, sets levels of achievement for operations, and ensures that the organization is market-driven in all activities, programs, products, and services responding to the needs of students, student organizations, and the MU’s other “publics”—the University, Ames community, alumni, and other visitors.
- Coordinates and directs processes and procedures for the Gold Star Hall Memorial committee to ensure the effective stewardship of Gold Star Hall’s history and traditions.
Administration and Operations
- Provides leadership on policies and procedures associated with finances and human resources for the Memorial Union, including developing budget scenarios and creating systems for effective implementation and monitoring.
- Develops revenue generation strategies necessary to enforce the fiscal strength of the Memorial Union.
- Assumes accountability for the administrative leadership and management of the areas this position oversees, including the stewardship of people, finances, and other resources.
- Holds other leaders accountable for high performance and a highly engaged culture by articulating expectations, monitoring performance, and providing feedback consistently across departments and areas for which they are responsible.
- Identifies methods to increase revenues and reduce costs.
Campus Life and Student Affairs Leadership
- Collaborates with the Associate Vice President for Campus Life (AVPCL) and the Campus Life Leadership Team to provide leadership within the Memorial Union and Campus Life to advance the mission and goals of the Division of Student Affairs.
- Coordinates efforts within the Campus Life units and with other university operations by developing strong communication and working relationships.
- Contributes to executive decision-making and the implementation of plans.
- Serves on the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs’ Cabinet and as a key leader for the division.
- Supports division priorities and projects.
- Promotes collaboration among division offices to create efficiencies and provide better programming and outreach.
- Represents the AVPCL on various topics as needed on formal and ad hoc internal and external committees.
- Represents the AVPCL and the Division of Student Affairs at official functions as requested.
- Prepares and presents reports and proposals to various groups on behalf of the AVPCL and the Division of Student Affairs.
- Assists with faculty, student, and staff relations by resolving requests or problems referred to the AVPCL or the Division of Student Affairs related to the Memorial Union.
- Meets with concerned parties to discuss requests or complaints and determines the best action for effective resolution.
Collaborations, Partnerships, and Committees
- Ensures positive and cooperative relationships with other areas of the University.
- Represents the Iowa State Memorial Union in its interactions with the Memorial Union Advisory Board, Student Union Board, Student Government, Facilities, Planning & Management, University administration, Iowa Board of Regents, the Ames Community, and the many “publics” served by this facility: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests.
- Serves as an ex-officio member of the Iowa State Memorial Union Advisory Board and all Advisory Board committees, providing leadership and facilitating the work of the Advisory Board, Advisory Board-established committees, and the AVPCL.
- Leads or represents the Division of Student Affairs on committees as requested by the AVPCL.
- Creates a culture of collaboration, using partnerships with campus colleagues, to set up every student for success and achievement, including, but not limited to, matters related to student engagement and institutional policies governing the conduct of student organizations and activities.
- Creates and champions initiatives that foster respectful communication, learning, and a spirit of cooperation.
- Promotes a collaborative campus climate where all individuals have the opportunity to thrive.
- Collaborates with the Director of Research and Assessment for Campus Life and the Student Affairs Office of Assessment, Research, and Divisional Effectiveness on assessment efforts and program reviews for areas reporting to the Director of the MU.
- Partners with the Director for Communications and Marketing for Campus Life and the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Communications Advisor.
- Collaborates with the AVPCL on fundraising for scholarships, programs, student success initiatives, and facility renovations.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
Requirements include a bachelor’s degree (master’s or terminal degree highly preferred) and at least eight years of successful full-time administrative experience in a student union or related higher education auxiliary environment. Preferred qualifications include experience in human resource management, budget administration that incorporates revenue generation and resource allocation, and program management involving student development and assessment. The successful candidate will demonstrate an understanding of current issues, best practices, and emerging trends in the university student union and the importance of and ability to generate revenue that strikes a balance between student and operational needs. Additionally, the ability to work effectively with a variety of constituent groups; demonstrated competency for diverse issues in a university community; and strong organizational skills, including the ability to plan strategically, are expected.
In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated above, the following are desired characteristics, skills, actions, strengths, and abilities noted from discussions with campus stakeholders:
- Demonstrated experience with operations, engagement, and facilities within a student union environment with a large footprint.
- Strong leadership and change management skills, with the motivation to cultivate leadership through change processes that improve the student experience.
- Strong organizational development abilities, including emotional intelligence, transparency, and empathy, that inspire and unify staff, provide professional and personal growth opportunities, and promote teamwork throughout the MU.
- Highly student-centered and knowledgeable of current college student needs and trends, understanding that serving the students at Iowa State University and improving the student experience is the number one priority of the MU.
- Extensive collaboration skills at all levels, with the ability to understand the vital importance of interconnectedness and partnerships.
- Business savvy related specifically to student union management, solid overall budget and finance skills, innovation in discovering new revenue sources, attention to detail in all financial decisions, and the ability to effectively advocate for scarce resources.
- A strategic and visionary risk-taker who promotes creativity in every area of the position.
- Ability to make difficult decisions when necessary, to conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, to actively listen to all sides of an issue, and to balance the needs of the people with the needs of the organization.
- A compassionate, ethical leader with excellent communication skills and a proven ability to deal with conflict, effectively work with staff members at various levels of development and knowledge, and demonstrate authenticity, passion, and empathy in all endeavors.
- Ability to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn the institution and department’s culture, accept staff input, and make well-informed decisions for the ISU community and the Memorial Union.
- Energy and enthusiasm for the role, passion for the work, and a positive attitude—even in the face of adversity.
- A personable and approachable demeanor—adaptable and flexible, with the ability to have fun on the job.
- Experience in diplomacy, possessing a great measure of political savvy and the ability to develop consensus around issues pertinent to the MU.
- A willingness to be highly visible and present throughout the MU, serving as a positive “face” for the department and the building.
- An innovator with a futuristic orientation and a willingness to try new opportunities, remain informed on recent trends and best practices, and lead significant change processes.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
Richard Reynolds served as the Director of the Memorial Union until his retirement in December 2015 after 12 years of service. During this tenure, Reynolds oversaw the building’s 11th addition and worked to strengthen the policies, operations, and professional team. Upon Reynold’s retirement, the Associate Director served in an interim capacity until Steve Winfrey, from North Dakota State University, was hired in the spring of 2017. Winfrey served approximately six years as Director, leading additional renovations to the facility and upgrades to the operations and staffing until his passing in 2023. ISU is now partnering with Spelman Johnson to fill this critically important role.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The new Director of the Iowa State University Memorial Union must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices concerning service and program development for a multi-use student union facility, including fiduciary considerations, daily operations, reservations, staffing models, facilities maintenance, policies and procedures, technology, student organizations, and programmatic integration. The Director should be a dynamic and energetic leader who is unwaveringly committed to customer service at the highest level, capable of managing complex situations and staffing, devising strategic initiatives, and administering multiple priorities. Furthermore, the Director should possess insight into today’s students and their developmental needs, a deep understanding of the culture that exists in a large, public land-grant institution of higher education, and the skill to contribute significantly at both a strategic and operational level to the student experience at Iowa State University.
For this role, a competent and forward-thinking individual who can promote and develop the MU team, set both long- and short-term priorities, and work daily to progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively move the Memorial Union forward must be identified. The following were identified as priorities, opportunities, and challenges for the Director to exercise vision and lead change:
- It will be essential that the new Director, acting as a “connector” in all instances, commit to a comprehensive culture of collaboration and partnering within the Memorial Union, across campus, and into the community. Iowa State University is wholly committed to building relationships as a foundation of the campus culture, and strong collaboration is an absolute necessity in all endeavors to ensure success. The MU touches many entities, including students, faculty, administration, departments, tenants, vendors, and other external partners. Upon arrival, the Director should quickly reach out across each of these areas, conduct a “listening tour” to garner input, reinforce existing relationships, and build solid new relationships that foster ongoing positive interactions. These connections are essential to assess the real needs of constituents, provide exceptional programs and services for the campus community, and ensure that the MU is known for its customer- and student-centered approach.
- The current staff members of the Memorial Union are highly committed to the vision of a solid and supportive team. They are dedicated to offering the best service possible to the ISU community. The staff works tirelessly to improve the student experience. The new Director should make it a priority to quickly get to know the staff as individuals, learn their particular needs, develop trust and confidence across the board, ascertain and understand the various responsibilities they perform and roles they play, provide comprehensive professional support for all levels of staff, and foster the continued and ongoing development of a strong, cohesive team.
- The Memorial Union has a distinct and storied history in serving the ISU and surrounding communities, and the historic nature of the facility must be preserved while also looking ahead to future opportunities. The MU has undergone many renovations and expansions over the years, most recently completing a three-story renovation—of what served for years as a hotel—into office and meeting space, as well as the current transformation efforts within several areas of the building that will be underway upon the Director’s arrival. Looking forward, the Director must address several ongoing issues, including roof replacements, a new/renovated parking ramp, and collective deferred maintenance, and consistently focus on updating, remodeling, and expanding the facilities of the MU to best meet the evolving needs of the student body.
- While the administrative duties of the position may require many meetings and other office-centric responsibilities, it will be essential that the Director be visible and accessible throughout the MU, get involved with students and the community, personally promote programs and services, collaborate with colleagues on projects and committees, and serve as the “face” of the MU to the campus. It will be critical for the Director to be known as a problem-solver and a consensus-builder for the MU to be considered one of the most service-oriented departments at Iowa State.
- The Director should be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing inclusion in all facets of the MU. There are many underrepresented populations within the students, faculty, and staff, and the Memorial Union should serve as a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased, supportive environment at all times.
- The Memorial Union Advisory Board, comprised of twelve voting members (five students, one ISU alumni, one ISU faculty member, one presidential appointee, and four community members), advises the Director on general policy and procedure decisions, program budgets, space for student groups, long-range plans for the operation and facilities of the MU, and other pertinent issues. The Director serves as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Advisory Board. It is essential that the Director collaborate effectively with the board to provide the best student-centered programs and services possible.
- Outside the Advisory Board, the Director position provides an excellent opportunity for direct student contact and impact. Many students and student organizations look to the MU and its staff for support, advisement, and direction. The new Director should quickly reach out to these various students and groups, learn their needs and desires, and develop strong partnerships. As utilizing student input will be critical for the ongoing success of the Memorial Union, connecting closely and consistently with the Student Government and other organizations should be an ongoing priority of the Director.
- This is an exciting time to join Iowa State University and an outstanding opportunity for the successful candidate to put their professional mark on the Memorial Union, building it to even higher levels. There is tremendous support from the administration for the Director and the services that emanate from the MU. The successful candidate can look forward to visioning and strategizing with the Associate Vice President for Campus Life, the Student Affairs leadership, peers and colleagues, and the internal staff to move the Memorial Union forward.
- Campus stakeholders stressed that they very much liked working at ISU, are very supportive of each other, enjoy the vibrancy of the institution, feel that they can always count on their colleagues, and believe that there are many opportunities to make a big difference in this role. Like the campus community, the Ames community is also very eclectic, close-knit, welcoming to new members, involved with the campus, and open and inviting to town-gown relationships. According to stakeholders, the cost of living in Ames is very reasonable, and the community promotes a sense of inclusivity, familiarity, and belonging. The city’s website states, “Ames offers cultural, recreational, educational, business, and entertainment amenities more common in bigger metropolitan areas.” In 2022, Ames was ranked one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live” by Livability, number 21 “Most Livable College Towns” by SmartAsset, and number five in “Best Iowa High Schools” by U.S. News and World Report. The state capital of Des Moines is less than an hour from Ames, with easy access to Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Omaha.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new Director’s success throughout the first year of employment.
- The Memorial Union Director has established strong working relationships and partnerships with the Associate Vice President for Campus Life, the Student Affairs leadership team, divisional colleagues, senior management staff, student leaders, and other stakeholders.
- An unwavering commitment to excellence and high quality of service, programs, and delivery is evident in all areas of oversight.
- A culture of shared responsibility and accountability among the staff and tenants in the Memorial Union is fostered and supported.
- The Director has formed positive, collaborative partnerships between Campus Life, Student Affairs, and other key university areas, including Operations and Finance, Academic Affairs, General Counsel, Human Resources, and ISU Police.
- Effective leadership and support are evident for current and future capital projects.
- Students report feeling valued and supported—the student culture is respected, communication with students is transparent and consistent, and students remain a priority at all times for the Director.
- The Memorial Union staff members are working together cohesively as a team, morale and staff retention are high, staff vacancies are being filled as quickly as possible, trust and respect are established in the department, the Director is consistently available and willing to listen to staff, information sharing is abundant, and professional development opportunities are readily available.
- Operational and strategic plans are established clearly and transparently, and these plans include straightforward objectives and measurable outcomes that are assessed effectively and efficiently; subsequently, adjustments are regularly made based on these assessments, and robust feedback is solicited and utilized to affect the process in the future.
OVERVIEW OF THE MEMORIAL UNION
The Memorial Union at Iowa State University is known for transformative experiences, engaging programs, impressive facilities, outstanding services, and collaborative partnerships that align with the campus’s academic mission. As engaged global citizens, students approach the Memorial Union as a key component in their personal success, as a living memorial, and as a community where all feel welcomed, valued, and have a voice.
Initially constructed in 1927 and built as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War I, the Memorial Union is a central gathering spot and activity hub at the heart of campus. The MU’s mission is to complete the college experience by developing leadership, community, and career readiness through service, inclusion, creativity, innovation, and lifelong learning. At a total of 316,000 square feet with 37,634 square feet of reservable event space, the MU recently completed the renovation of three of its floors and is now transforming an additional 20,000 square feet, scheduled to be completed in October 2024. The MU serves approximately 800 registered student organizations, houses 14 campus departments, advises the Student Union Board and a few other vital organizations, sponsors almost 2,000 hours of service learning opportunities, and provides entertainment opportunities through the Maintenance Shop performance venue, Cybowl & Billiards, the Workspace craft center, the MU Art Gallery, and more.
Values, Vision, and Mission
Michael Harwood, Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Director of Residence
Michael Harwood joined Iowa State University as the Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Director for Residence in August 2023. Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, the AVPCL helps advance the mission and goals of the Division of Student Affairs.
Harwood has over 30 years of experience in student affairs. Before arriving at ISU, he served in senior leadership positions, including Associate Vice President for Student Success at Minnesota State University Moorhead and Assistant Vice President and Assistant Dean of Student Life at North Dakota State University.
Harwood has oversight of Campus Life, which comprises three auxiliary operations within Student Affairs, including the Department of Residence, ISU Dining, and the Memorial Union. The AVPCL supervises the directors within these areas to create aligned, collaborative, and student-centered strategies. Overall, Campus Life comprises nearly 500 full-time employees and over 1,700 student staff with an annual operating budget of approximately $114 million.
Within his role as Director of Residence, Harwood maintains overall administrative responsibility for the student housing system, with over 10,000 beds and more than 3.3 million square feet of facilities.
“Iowa State University is recognized for providing an outstanding living and learning experience for students,” said Harwood. “Campus Life has the unique opportunity to build on this legacy by providing students a home away from home through environments where students can live, learn, dine, and engage.”
A native of Whitefish, Montana, Harwood holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Montana State University and a master of science degree in counseling and college and student development from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Iowa State University is a student-centric institution serving 30,177 students. ISU is classified as a Carnegie Foundation Doctoral/Research University-Extensive and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the nation. As a land-grant institution, ISU is a global and culturally diverse university whose students thrive in learning communities, undergraduate research, internships, and study abroad. They learn from world-class scholars tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges—feeding the hungry, finding alternative fuels, and advancing manufacturing. ISU is located in Ames, Iowa, a community of 67,000 situated 30 minutes north of the state capital of Des Moines. Ames was recently voted as the number one “Best College Town in America” by 247WallSt.com in June 2023.
Iowa State University’s 2022-2030 Strategic Plan, Mission, Vision, and Values
The Student Body (Fall 2022 data)
Total enrollment: 29,969
Professional students: 634
Retention rate: 87%
African American: 3%
Two or more races: 3%
Race unknown: 3%
Wendy Wintersteen, President
Dr. Wendy Wintersteen became the 16th president of Iowa State University on November 20, 2017, after a nationwide search followed by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Wintersteen, the first woman to hold the university’s highest office, has served Iowa State for more than 40 years in several capacities.
Wintersteen is advancing ISU for the 21st century with priorities and aspirations expressed in ISU’s new strategic plan: to be the most student-centric leading research university where students, faculty, and staff flourish in a welcoming and inclusive environment; to be the university that fosters lifelong learning, creates opportunities, and forges new frontiers; and to be a trusted partner for proactive and innovative solutions.
Before becoming president, Wintersteen served 11 years as the inaugural endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. During her tenure, ISU’s agricultural programs ranked in the top ten worldwide, CALS enrollment rapidly increased to become the third-largest college of agriculture in the nation, research grants increased markedly, awards for teaching excellence grew, and the college achieved a 98 percent placement rate for its graduates.
Dr. Toyia K. Younger, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs
Dr. Toyia K. Younger assumed the position of Senior Vice President for Student Affairs at Iowa State University on August 17, 2020. In this role, she provides strategic leadership to the Division of Student Affairs, which encompasses a broad and diverse portfolio of student-centered departments, offices, and teams organized into three units: Campus Life, the Dean of Students Office, and Student Health and Wellness. With over 650 professional staff and 800 student employees, the Division of Student Affairs shares one common goal: challenge and empower students to succeed as productive citizens and leaders in a diverse community.
Younger’s research and areas of expertise focus on higher education opportunity and access, including community colleges, transfer students, college readiness and preparation, and underserved student populations. Younger serves on the advisory board for the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students and is an executive committee member of the Council on Student Affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). An expert on a wide range of higher education topics, Younger has also been invited to serve as a keynote speaker and given numerous presentations at a variety of regional, national, and international conferences focused on student affairs, leadership development, community colleges, and transfer students.
For a quick snapshot of ISU’s benefits for new employees, click here. For a complete benefits overview, click here.
APPLICATION & NOMINATION
Review of applications will begin immediately, 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 and questions about the status of the search may be emailed to J. Scott Derrick 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.
Visit the Iowa State University website at www.iastate.edu.
Iowa State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, marital status, disability, or protected veteran status, and will not be discriminated against. This position serves at the pleasure of the university administration and is exempt from certain P&S policies.