RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the assistant vice president for student experience and belonging, the executive director of residence life & housing provides leadership for advancing the divisional strategic focus of the campus residential community, comprising over 40 residential buildings, which house approximately 7,200 residential students. The executive director is a strategic partner with student life departments and frequently collaborates with units such as facilities, real estate & auxiliary services, and academic units to enhance the overall residential experience.
The new executive director must ensure optimal utilization of resources and effective operations within the department. They must leverage data and assessment to inform long-range strategic planning and budget forecasting for residence life & housing. The executive director will have the opportunity to serve as a senior leader within the division of student life and work towards divisional goals and strategic initiatives which meet students’ holistic learning and developmental needs. As a critical stakeholder in the student residential experience, they will assume leadership for residential master planning, which includes new construction and strategies to modernize existing facilities.
This student success-focused position directly supervises the directors of housing and residential communities and an administrative specialist. Indirectly, they supervise 33 full-time and graduate staff, and approximately 200 student employees. The executive director will manage and effectively steward the use of institutional resources with an annual budget of over $8,000,000 while working with student life business operations and auxiliary and facilities accounting to project future budget requests.
Other primary responsibilities of the position:
- Represents the department and division of student life with multiple University of Delaware (UD) and external stakeholders, including UD dining, UD police department, facilities departments, enrollment management, risk management, institutional equity, athletics, office of international students and scholars, and the English Language Institute.
- Serves as the champion for the student experience in the residence halls, which entails advocating for students on issues related to co-curricular education, leadership opportunities, equity and inclusion, safety, facilities, opening and closing, room assignments, custodial, and dining services, etc.
- Leads staff in the residence halls toward a continual enhancement of student academic success and retention, student engagement and learning, and resident satisfaction.
- Seeks to continuously enhance the level of employee engagement in all sectors of the operation.
- Engages in policy formation and implementation, as well as developing a unit strategic plan and strategies for implementation.
- Ensures coordination of efforts between residence life & housing and other academic and administrative units through regular contact with senior university officials, faculty, parents, and student leaders.
- Develops and implements crisis management protocols and procedures and leads department responses to high-level crises such as student death, significant health and safety issues, or contagious illness concerns.
- Partners with other units on campus to enhance student learning outside the classroom, including integrating faculty into the residence halls and out-of-classroom programming efforts.
- Creates effective partnerships with academic departments to create and oversee the operation of living-learning communities that enhance curricular and co-curricular learning.
- Maintains a high-level awareness of national trends and concerns in higher education, residence life, student affairs, and student needs to develop effective strategies to keep the department at an advanced state relative to trends and industry peers.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
A master’s degree in higher education administration or a related field, a minimum of ten years of significant professional experience, and comprehensive knowledge of residence life, housing, and student personnel administration are required. A doctorate is preferred.
The successful candidate will have advanced knowledge of campus student housing, organizational and group dynamics, and quality service standards and procedures. They must successfully partner with various stakeholders and constituents on a highly residential campus to properly champion the residential experience. The next executive director must have exceptional supervision skills and a proven ability to develop, plan, and implement short- and long-range unit goals.
Additional characteristics of a successful candidate, as described by key stakeholders include:
- Comprehensive knowledge of student development theory and other issues impacting college students.
- A capacity to decisively lead multiple sectors of the organization and respond to shifting circumstances.
- An understanding and consideration for the differing needs and concerns of individuals with varying identities, cultures, and backgrounds.
- A commitment to fostering a workplace culture of belonging, where diversity is celebrated and equity is a core value.
- An advanced understanding of institutional student recruitment and retention goals.
- A working understanding of state and federal laws and guidelines and areas of civil liability pertinent to residential campuses.
- An ability to analyze problems and strategically develop and communicate creative solutions to complex issues.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The division of student life at UD is committed to finding a collaborative and visionary executive director of residence life & housing. It is an exciting time to join UD, particularly because of the design of a new student experience master plan finalized in May 2022. With close attention to access, completion, and post-graduate success, student life is focused on four strategic priorities:
- Seamless student experience
- Racial equity and inclusion
- Student development for work, life, and society
- Graduate student life
A successful candidate may encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:
- The University of Delaware residence life & housing must expand housing capacity in the coming years to meet increased demand. One key institutional priority is to provide housing for more graduate students. The new executive director will be a vital team member that will develop the next iteration of the housing footprint on the UD campus, specifically as it relates to UD’s student experience master plan.
- In leading within a bifurcated housing system (budget and facilities report up through a different unit), the new leader must quickly build relationships with key partners in those areas to move the needle on the residential student experience together.
- The incoming senior housing officer will have many opportunities to align residence life & housing goals to the division of student life and the student engagement and belonging portfolio. As a priority, the new director must seek to understand the direction of the division of student life and use the information to inform the direction of residence life & housing.
- The executive director must have a collaborative and innovative spirit to support UD in achieving student success goals while creating momentum for new construction and student housing master planning.
- Residence life & housing has a long history of prioritizing student learning in the residence halls. The new executive director must find ways to communicate the positive gains in student success for residential students to the overall campus community and lead the team to consider additional effective strategies to support this campus goal.
- The culture of residence life & housing is rooted in a love for community and a long-standing shared experience of residential curricular development geared toward student learning. A new executive director will need to quickly understand the department’s culture and find ways to identify gaps that once addressed will allow the department to contribute more meaningfully to the division of student life.
- For housing & residence life to continue its goal to be top contributors of innovation and to advance trends in student housing, the next executive director must lead purposefully, demand excellence, and be willing to take risks that lead to transformative experiences for students.
- Upon arrival, the executive director must make efforts to be visible and accessible to the residence life & housing team and develop a plan to meet individually with each unit and constituent group.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new executive director’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- They have become a leader within the division of student life, frequently collaborating with peers and providing valuable insight that supports the elevation of the division as well as residence life & housing.
- The executive director is known for being an advocate for the residential student experience by sharing the successes of residence life & housing and seeking ways to incorporate those successes into the fabric of the University of Delaware student experience.
- They have built strong working relationships with facilities, finance, and other auxiliary units and are forging a path forward, shaping the student experience.
- The executive director clearly understands the culture of the various units within residence life & housing and seeks to build upon their successes.
- The executive director has become a respected partner through the use of collaboration, communication, and strategic and informed advocacy, dedicated to improving residential facilities.
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 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 over 7,500 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 see 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, he 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 Lewis. 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, PA, and Baltimore, MD.
The Student Body (Fall 2022 data)
Total enrollment: 22,623
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 18th, 2015. He took office on June 6th, 2016, and was formally inaugurated on December 7th, 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.
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