One of the nation’s leading private research universities, the University of Miami (UM) is a vibrant and diverse academic community focused on teaching and learning, the discovery of new knowledge, and service to the South Florida region and beyond. It is ranked 44th in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” Founded in 1925, UM has more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world and includes three campuses: the main campus in suburban Coral Gables with 4,400 students that live in one of UM’s five residential colleges, the Miller School of Medicine located near downtown Miami, and the internationally renowned Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key.

The Position

Responsibilities of the Position

Reporting to the Vice President of Student Affairs and serving as a key member of the Vice President’s executive team, the Executive Director provides vision, leadership, and management consistent with the University’s common purpose to transform lives through teaching, research, and service to students and student organizations in support of student engagement and learning. The Executive Director has direct supervision and leadership responsibilities for the following areas: the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, the LGBTQ Student Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement, and Student Activities & Student Organizations. There are over 300 registered University student organizations, and the student life units manage a significant number of high visibility institutional programs such as Leadership UMiami, Horizons Pre-Orientation program, Orientation, Homecoming, and Family Weekend. The Executive Director also oversees assessment, accreditation, and supports strategic planning for the Division of Student Affairs. This position supervises 21 staff including a management team of five professionals and has responsibility for an annual budget exceeding $1.8 million and a student activities fee budget of $1.3 million.

General responsibilities of the Executive Director include:

  • serve as a key member of the Vice President for Student Affairs’ executive team;
  • be an active leader within the division of Student Affairs and participate in the high visibility campus activities sponsored by the division – Orientation, Parents’ Weekend, Homecoming, Commencement, etc.;
  • actively represent the Vice President for Student Affairs in campus-wide planning and management of campus student services, support facilities, and student programs;
  • lead Student Life in the development, implementation and ongoing enhancement of departmental goals, strategic plans, procedure development and revision, and resource allocation;
  • develop collaborative relationships and partnerships with students, faculty, academic deans, other campus stakeholders, and the larger University community;
  • work closely with the Director of Orientation and Commuter Student Programs in representing the division of Student Affairs in recruitment and retention efforts managed by the Enrollment division;
  • manage new student communication, commuter/transfer summer initiatives, and the Road to UM publication;
  • provide leadership for and direction to the planning, coordination, and implementation of the assessment efforts for all departments, programs, and services within Student Life as well as within the division of Student Affairs;
  • serve as the primary liaison with assessment and benchmark platforms including CampusLabs/Baseline and the Education Advisory Board;
  • manage all aspects of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation process for the division of Student Affairs;
  • develop and lead a division-wide assessment committee to coordinate all assessment efforts;
  • implement and manage a division-wide assessment plan, developing and maintaining division-wide assessment projects, overseeing data collection and data analysis;
  • train and coordinate the professional development of divisional staff on assessment best practices;
  • represent the division of Student Affairs with University assessment initiatives and serve as the primary liaison with Institutional Research.

Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

A master’s degree in college student personnel, higher education administration, enrollment management, or a related field is required; a doctorate is preferred, with a minimum of ten years of progressive leadership experience in student affairs in a higher education setting that includes demonstrated work in student organizations, programming, advising, and working with a diverse student population. Additional knowledge, experience, and capabilities needed for success in the Executive Director position include: a knowledge of best practices in student engagement; experience in counseling and conflict management; familiarity with the development and execution of programs and events; an ability to create an inclusive community in a diverse university environment; and a general familiarity with assessment, particularly with regard to student programs.

Additional capabilities and attributes identified as important to University of Miami stakeholders include:

  • experience with student engagement across a diverse student body with a wide range of interests;
  • an innovative and creative thinker with regard to programs as well as collaborations, resources, and efficiencies across the department and division;
  • the ability to provide counsel to staff, students, and others involved in the clubs, organizations, and leadership programs in a manner that is clear and insightful;
  • a strong collaborator among significant facets of the University community—enrollment, facilities, the Vice President’s office, athletics, academic affairs, etc.;
  • possessing a vision for student engagement and learning that is based on best practices in the field, providing support and services to a diverse community, and having a focus on learning and meeting the president’s vision of creating a culture of belonging;
  • a working knowledge of the planning and execution of large scale events and the policies, procedures, contracts, and regulatory requirements that impacts programming on college campuses;
  • a demonstrated ability to build high functioning teams that work collaboratively within the department and across the division to create impactful programs for students;
  • an appreciation for the diversity of the University of Miami student and the larger Miami community;
  • a sensitivity for the work of the staff and the depth and variety of programming that is managed by all the units in Student Life;
  • an understanding of assessment and the ability to design a data collection process that supports consistency and underpins the division’s strategic plan;
  • a demonstrated ability to manage, mentor, and encourage staff in a complex, fast-paced environment;
  • the ability to move with ease between strategic operational initiatives and dealing with University stakeholders regarding programs and outcomes;
  • a consummate professional with mature judgment and the ability to set priorities while simultaneously filtering through potentially chaotic situations and adapting as circumstances dictate;
  • an ability to navigate complex issues and relationships with many, varied constituents—to be diplomatic yet equipped to make tough calls when warranted;
  • excellent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills;
  • demonstrated ability to manage multiple projects, shifting demands and competing priorities;
  • strong communication skills, including the ability to present complex information to multiple audiences;
  • supervisory experience and the ability to lead staff, communicate expectations, delegate effectively, and support ongoing training and professional development;
  • strong interpersonal skills and effectiveness in maintaining a visible and engaged role across the Student Life department and the Student Affairs division, actively working with a wide range of stakeholders;
  • evidence of impeccable integrity and high ethical standards that engenders trust in others.

History of the Position

Dr. Gail Cole-Avent has served as the Executive Director of Student Life for the past three years having begun over a decade ago at the University of Miami as the assistant to the Vice President/Chief of Staff and ombudsman for the division of Student Affairs. Her work in this capacity included the assessment and accreditation efforts for the division. She leaves the University of Miami to become the Associate Vice President of Student Life at California State University San Marcos.

The department of Student Life was formed of units that had not traditionally been housed together and as such the units are still working to find their collaborative footing within the department as well as within the division of Student Affairs. Student Life is responsible for managing most of the significant, high visibility University community events and this requires institutional support and collaboration across many different areas of the University community. Assessment will continue to be housed in Student Life and the Executive Director will continue to manage assessment and the accreditation process, and support strategic planning for the entire division of Student Affairs.

Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position

  • The new Executive Director will need to be very collaborative and able to build a synergistic team that works seamlessly with each other and across the division of Student Affairs.
  • There is a very strong standard of excellence within the division of Student Affairs that will need to be maintained in the Student Life department while also understanding that the pace of the University is fast.
  • The department of Student Life works closely with students and serves as the primary point of contact for most, if not all, student programs. To that extent the Executive Director will need to build a department that is transparent in its work with students and can clarify and resolve student complaints quickly.
  • The Executive Director will need to set a clear mission, direction, and goals for the department and provide strong supervision to ensure the units within the department are moving forward with clarity and purpose.
  • For the assessment responsibilities of this position there are some early areas of focus for the new Executive Director—consistency of data collection, clear guidelines for reporting data and data usage, and development of a process to ensure full participation by all units in the division of Student Affairs.

Measures of Success for the Position

The following items will define the Executive Director’s success by the end of the first year of employment:

  • The new Executive Director will be extremely collaborative, will have developed strong relationships with students, with the staff in Student Life, and within the division; the Executive Director will have worked across the campus to build rapport and develop bridges of communication with facilities, academic affairs, and enrollment.
  • The Executive Director will have reviewed the cycle of programs and events for efficiencies, for student engagement, and for learning opportunities.
  • The Executive Director will have embraced the division’s standards of excellence, the strategic plan, and the University’s goal of creating a culture of belonging and will have begun to pull the Student Life team together into a unit that is focused, efficient, strategic, and collaborative.
  • The Executive Director will have dug into the division’s assessment process and will have begun to standardize data collection, prioritization, and training across the division.

An Overview of the Department of Student Life

The department of Student Life is comprised of the following functional areas: the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, the LGBTQ Student Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement, and Student Activities and Student Organizations.

Student Life has a total of twenty-one professional staff including five directors reporting directly to the Executive Director, two Associate Directors, six Assistant Directors, one Executive Assistant, four Administrative Assistants, one Financial Analyst, and two staff members. Additionally, Student Life collectively has five graduate assistants and approximately 61 student employees.

William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development

The William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development serves as a catalyst in developing students who cultivate positive social change within their communities as engaged citizens. The Butler Center develops community service partnerships with local organizations and agencies to address various populations and social issues. The Center oversees six major service programs annually, advises 40 service related student organizations, and has oversight for a number of key student leadership programs including the Whitely Women’s Leadership Symposium, Leadership UMiami, and IMPACT Leadership Retreat.

LGBTQ Student Center

The LGBTQ Student Center contributes to the University’s priority of building a culture of belonging through support and advocacy services, education, training, and social and educational programming. The Center, established in June of 2016, works to expand the visibility of the LGBTQ community, contributes to the dialogue that promotes an inclusive student community, and supports students to build social and intellectual connections.

Multicultural Student Affairs

Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) provides University students with cultural, personal, and social support and education. MSA brings issues of diversity and multiculturalism to the forefront of campus conversations by sponsoring programs that celebrate cultural differences and highlight similarities. Programming includes dialogue regarding issues of personal and collective notions of race, ethnicity, and culture while providing a safe and supportive environment for students to freely share their thoughts. MSA’s signature programs include Horizons Pre-Orientation Program, cultural celebrations, Students of Color Symposium, Black Student Caucus, Unity Roundtable, and Senior Mwambo.

Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement

Orientation and Commuter Student Involvement (OSCI) is responsible for the design, planning, and implementation of a variety of undergraduate transition programs for entering first-year residential, first year commuter, and transfer students, along with their respective families. OCSI develops programs and services that support and connect commuter and transfer students to the campus community. The University’s Family Weekend program, Parent Guide, and the Parent e-newsletter are all coordinated by OSCI.

Student Activities and Student Organizations

Student Activities and Student Organizations (SASO) serves as a key resource for student leaders, programming boards, and over 300 registered student organizations through advising, leadership development, and organizational support services. SASO works most closely with the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee responsible for the distribution and management of over $1.2 million in funding. SASO advises the Hurricane Productions Programming Board, the largest of the student-run organizations with seven committees including Canes Night Live, CaneStage Theatre Company, Cinematic Arts Commission, HP Concerts, Daytime Programming and Special Events, Patio Jams, and the Rathskeller Advisory Board. SASO is also home to the Homecoming Executive Committee, Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), and Student Center Complex Programs.

Institution & Location

Institutional Background

One of the nation’s leading private research universities, the University of Miami (UM) is a vibrant and diverse academic community focused on teaching and learning, the discovery of new knowledge, and service to the South Florida region and beyond. It is ranked 46th on U.S. News & World Report’s list of “2018 Best Colleges.”

Founded in 1925, UM has more than 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students from around the world, and includes three campuses: the main campus in suburban Coral Gables, the Miller School of Medicine located near downtown Miami, and the internationally renowned Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on Virginia Key. UM has more than 14,000 employees and an annual budget of over $3.2 billion in revenue, of which $2.4 billion is generated from patient care. The University has an endowment of $948.6 million.

Coral Gables, Florida

Coral Gables’ founders imagined both a “city beautiful” and a “garden city,” with lush green avenues winding through a residential city, punctuated by civic landmarks and embellished with detailed and playful architectural features. Known as The City Beautiful, Coral Gables stands out as a planned community that blends color, details, and the Mediterranean Revival architectural style.

Coral Gables is a major employment center, with almost as many people working in the city as living there. The Coral Gables economy is composed of local and international businesses, but unlike other parts of Florida, it is not influenced as strongly by seasonal shifts. The city is especially desirable to businesses because of its proximity to Miami International Airport, the Port of Miami, and downtown Miami. In addition, a vintage-style trolley connects many of the commercial districts, Grand Avenue, and the Metrorail. The city has a strong offering of banking, investment institutions, health care, and professional services, as well as being the international headquarters for Bacardi and Del Monte Fresh Produce. The University of Miami is the city’s largest employer.

Coral Gables has many prominent restaurants, boasting more than 100 cafes and restaurants, a farmer’s market, a new museum and art cinema on Aragon Avenue, across from the renowned independent bookstore, Books & Books. Coral Gables has the distinction of having four live theaters, as well as many fine art galleries. The 230-plus-acre campus of the University also provides the community with access to lectures and performances, as well as an art cinema and the Lowe Art Museum. Residents also enjoy the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, as well as festivals and performances held throughout the year, including the Tropical Baroque Festival and Beaux Art Festival. Coral Gables is one of the few cities in the area to offer a grant program supporting local nonprofit cultural programming as well as a public art program, encouraging the investment in public art to enhance the community.

For more information, visit the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce

Institutional Mission

The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to their community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of their university family, the University strives to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.

University of Miami is absolutely committed to freedom of inquiry—the freedom to think, to question, to criticize, and to dissent. The University of Miami will pursue the value of excellence in their research and educational missions with the single-mindedness that only great commitments deserve. The University of Miami will provide students with the foundations for ethical citizenship and service to others, a respect for differences among people, and a commitment to high standards of thought and communication. The University also will prepare them for rewarding lifelong careers and will imbue in them a continued and permanent desire for the study of knowledge and the search for truth.

Common Purpose

At the U, they transform lives through teaching, research, and service.




Four aspirations guide the vision for their future. The University of Miami aspires to be:

The hemispheric university: their location in Miami gives the University a distinct geographic capacity to connect institutions, individuals, and ideas across the Americas and throughout the world. Many universities seek international engagement, but the University of Miami is uniquely positioned to be a global university with a distinct hemispheric advantage.

The excellent university: a drive for excellence permeates every domain of their work—from research to public service, from teaching to athletics, from health care to the arts. The continued pursuit of excellence will be marked by building bridges across their schools and colleges, across disciplines, and across modes of learning.

The relevant university: from its very origins, the University has served the local and global communities to which it belongs. As it pursues the advancement of fundamental knowledge and the search for meaning, the University of Miami must make a deliberate effort to translate science and scholarship into solutions.

The exemplary university: integrity, respect, diversity, tolerance, and resilience are qualities at the heart of the University. As the University of Miami seeks to expand opportunity for all, it will also work to foster inclusive, respectful, and safe environments throughout the campuses, where reflective and challenging conversations can be held.

Roadmap Initiatives

Concrete initiatives will bring the vision for the University of Miami to life, engaging every facet of the campus community in the continued quest to fulfill the most noble purposes.

100 Talents: through a mix of conventional and innovative modalities, the University will add, over the next decade, 100 new endowed chairs to attract, retain, and reward outstanding faculty who will enhance the university’s position as a magnet for talent.

Problem-based Interdisciplinary Inquiry: The University will increase support for collaborative problem-based inquiry at the intersection of multiple disciplines. The University will enhance its catalytic role in stimulating the collaboration of researchers and scholars from all the schools and colleges around complex problems in areas such as rising sea levels and other environmental threats, health and well-being, migration, and the multiple dimensions of human identity.

STEM@UM: the University of Miami will invest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to attract top talent and build state-of-the-art facilities.

Hemispheric Innovation Hub: recognizing that innovation and entrepreneurship are key components of the educational and research missions, the University will seek partnerships to promote new ventures and product development in Miami and throughout the hemisphere.

Hemispheric University Consortium: the University will leverage its unique geographic position to orchestrate a consortium for the advancement of research and education throughout the Americas, facilitating the mobility of students and faculty members.

Culture of Belonging: as an exemplary institution, the University will deepen the commitment to diversity and inclusion by building a culture of belonging where all members of the UM community feel valued and can add value.

Access to Excellence: by its centennial, the University will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for admitted students through merit-based admissions and need-based financial aid.

Educational Innovation: as a leader in the unfolding education revolution, the University will pursue innovation in teaching and learning by promoting participatory experiences for students and faculty, investing in academic technology, and encouraging new pedagogical approaches in the classroom.

Value-Based Integrated Health Care: the University’s academic health system will lead the way toward a new era in health care through the optimal mix of high-quality services, cutting-edge research, and education of professional leaders.

For further information: 2016 President’s Report


Julio Frenk, President

Dr. Julio Frenk became the sixth president of the University of Miami in August of 2015. He also holds academic appointments as professor of public health sciences at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and as professor of health sector management and policy at the School of Business Administration.

Prior to joining the University of Miami, he was the dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development, a joint appointment with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Frenk served as the minister of health of Mexico from 2000 to 2006. There he pursued an ambitious agenda to reform the nation’s health system and introduced a program of comprehensive universal coverage, known as Seguro Popular, which expanded access to health care for more than 55 million previously uninsured Mexicans. He was the founding director-general of the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, one of the leading institutions of its kind in the developing world. He also served as executive director in charge of evidence and information for policy at the World Health Organization and as senior fellow in the global health program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among other leadership positions.

Dr. Frenk holds a medical degree from the National University of Mexico, as the well as a master of public health and a joint Ph.D. in medical care organization and in sociology from the University of Michigan. He has received honorary degrees from seven universities. His scholarly production, which includes over 160 articles in academic journals, as well as many books and book chapters, has been cited more than 15,000 times. In addition, he has written three best-selling novels for youngsters explaining the functions of the human body. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico. He serves on the boards of the United Nations Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has received numerous recognitions, including the Clinton Global Citizen Award for changing the way practitioners and policymakers around the world think about health, the Bouchet Medal for Outstanding Leadership presented by Yale University for promoting diversity in graduate education, and the Welch-Rose Award for Distinguished Service from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

Dr. Patricia A. Whitely, Vice President of Student Affairs

Dr. Patricia A. Whitely has been the Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Miami since 1997. Previously, from 1994 to 1997, she was director of student life at the University of Miami. She also served from 1982 to 1994 at the University of Miami as a residence coordinator, assistant director of residence halls, and associate director of residence halls.

Dr. Whitely is an adjunct faculty member in the higher education administration program in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami. She serves on the National Association of Student Personnel Administrator’s (NASPA) Foundation Board, is a frequent presenter for the NASPA Alice Manicur Symposium, and has served on the NASPA Editorial Board and NASPA Region III Committee. Dr. Whitely served as chair of the NASPA board of directors for 2014 to 2015, is the recipient of NASPA’s 2013 Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a dean, and NASPA’s 2009 Pillar of the Profession Award. The University of Miami’s faculty senate selected Whitely as the 2017 recipient of one of its highest honors, the James W. McLamore Outstanding Service Award.

The Academic Program

The University of Miami’s 11 schools and colleges, located on three campuses in Coral Gables, Virginia Key, and downtown Miami, offer a range of exploration, learning, and challenges to their students. The main campus in Coral Gables, Florida, is home to two colleges and seven schools. The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is located on an 18-acre waterfront campus on Virginia Key in Biscayne Bay.

The Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine campus consists of 72 acres within the 153-acre UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center complex. The medical center includes three University-owned hospitals that make up UHealth–University of Miami Health System: University of Miami Hospital, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital & Clinics, and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

With more than 180 academic programs and majors to choose from, undergraduate and graduate students come to the University of Miami from across the nation and around the world to pursue their passions and set a course for future success. UM’s unique location and programs provide students with the experience and knowledge to jumpstart their careers.

In 2013, the University opened a new 37,700-square-foot neuroscience building adjacent to the Cox Science Center, creating an interactive hub for interdisciplinary health research based on neurological imaging. The facility houses a cooperative group of research personnel from the psychology and biology departments, as well as other UM departments and the Miller School of Medicine. The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex, a facility that enables scientists to conduct research on climate, marine animals, and the Earth’s oceans, was dedicated in the fall of 2014. Work also continues on the Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios at the Frost School of Music, providing classroom, teaching, and practice space.

About 50 percent of classes for undergraduates have 17 or fewer students; about 75 percent of classes have 27 or fewer students.

The University is accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Academic Support

The University of Miami gives students the freedom to cross disciplines and design their studies around their strengths, curiosities, passions, and goals. The University advances students’ potential by providing a multitude of resources—from career counseling and honors programs, to writing workshops and opportunities to study abroad—to prepare them for success.

The Student Body

Student Enrollment – Fall 2017

School (Year Founded) Degree N-Deg Grad* Total
Architecture (’83) 230 0 107 337
Arts and Sciences (’26) 3,876 1 641 4,518
Business (’29) 2,338 0 987 3,325
Communication (’85) 926 0 210 1,136
Education & Human Dev. (’26) 470 0 454 924
Engineering (’47) 1,094 0 204 1,298
Frost Music School (’26) 454 15 275 744
Law (’28) 0 0 1,196 1,196
Miller School of Medicine (’52)
    Graduate 0 0 567 567
    Clinical 0 0 814 814
Nursing & Health Studies (’68) 693 0 388 1,081
Rosenstiel School (’69) 360 0 300 660
Cont. Studies, Special & Joint 167 208 28 403
TOTAL 10,608 224 6,171 17,003**


Full-Time 10,134 82 5,394 15,610
Part-Time 479 137 777 1,393

*Includes M.D., J.D., and other graduate students
**Excludes IEP and auditing students


Enrollment by Gender – Fall 2017

New Freshmen Undergrad Students Graduate Students*
Gender Count % Count % Count %
Male 1,055 48 5,169 48 2,980 48
Female 1,156 52 5,663 52 3,191 52
TOTAL 2,211 10,832 6,171

Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity – Fall 2017

New Freshmen Undergrad Students Graduate Students*
Ethnicity Count % Count % Count %
White 1,109 50 4,817 44 2,152 35
Hispanic or Latino 390 18 2,798 26 1,609 26
Asian/Pacific Islander 307 14 1,276 12 876 14
Black 205 9 926 9 508 8
American Indian 6 0 13 0 9 0
2 or more races 69 3 359 3 181 3
Unknown 125 6 643 6 836 14
TOTAL 2,211 10,832 6,171

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 may be emailed to Ellen Heffernan at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the University of Miami website at

It is the policy of the University of Miami that no person within the jurisdiction thereof shall, on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination or harassment (including all forms of sexual harassment and sexual violence) under any program or activity of the University, regardless of whether such program or activity occurs on-campus or off-campus.