Florida International University (FIU) is a Carnegie R1 public research university focused on making a real impact in research and teaching. FIU is defined by its proven student success techniques, groundbreaking research, and high social mobility that uplifts students and accelerates their success. With a student body of more than 56,000, FIU is one of the largest universities in the nation and has over 280,000 alumni, the majority of whom live and work in South Florida. FIU is the #1 institution in the U.S. awarding bachelor’s degrees to minorities. It is proud to be recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority Serving University, and as a Carnegie Community Engaged University.
The FIU Wellness and Recreation Center (WRC) has two locations, one at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus (MMC) and the other at the Biscayne Bay Campus (BBC). The 120,000-square-foot facility at MMC is comprised of two three-court basketball/volleyball gyms, two outdoor basketball courts and a sand volleyball court, extensive free weight and cardio areas, two racquetball courts with a squash-convertible court, a 1/10-mile indoor track, and more. The facility at BBC boasts an aquatic center with an Olympic-size pool and diving well, kayaking and paddle-boarding excursions on Biscayne Bay, a ropes course for team building activities and exercises, outdoor sand volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts, and a bike-share program. Other programs and activities include intramural sports, sports clubs, eSports, the Adventure Recreation experiential education program, PantherFIT group classes, and athletic training clinic support.
ROLE OF THE SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR WELLNESS AND RECREATION CENTERS
Reporting to the Assistant Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs – Auxiliary Operations, the Senior Director for Wellness and Recreation Centers is responsible for the comprehensive fiscal, physical, and developmental aspects of FIU’s on-campus wellness and recreation programs and services. The Senior Director fosters a strong partnership between the centers on the MMC and BBC campuses, promoting both in a unified, cohesive, and meaningful manner and cultivating a consistent, high-end customer experience at the two locations. The Senior Director develops and maintains collaborative relationships within the university and surrounding community, while prioritizing students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the WRC; works with the Assistant Vice President to develop short-term and strategic plans in support of the university’s mission; plans and implements physical improvements and major renovations of WRC facilities; conducts data-driven assessment of departmental policies and operations to implement best campus recreation practices and ensure proper allocation of resources and compliance; and continually reviews and updates all business processes related to use and administration of the centers. The Senior Director leads, supervises, evaluates, and provides professional development and training for a full-time staff of 24, including six direct reports, employs 250 students, and manages all fiscal operations and revenue generation for an annual budget of $5 million.
The Senior Director for Wellness and Recreation Centers will be expected to:
- Lead all aspects of the campus recreation programs and facilities, which includes ensuring the maintenance and cleanliness of facilities, pools, trails, and intramural fields.
- Oversee and administer the programs offered through the Wellness and Recreation Center, ensuring the quality of each and their timely delivery and variety.
- Manage a team of professionals, support staff, graduate assistants, and over 200 student employees.
- Hire, train, supervise, evaluate, and develop professional staff.
- Serve as a mentor and resource to encourage and ensure continued professional development of the team.
- Plan, present, and manage the departmental annual operating budget of nearly $5 million, including revenue generation.
- Direct the use of all resources to best serve the FIU community.
- Ensure fiscal compliance with FIU policies and procedures.
- Raise funds for future recreation projects.
- Oversee all physical operations pertaining to the WRC department.
- Administer improvement and major renovation plans for WRC facilities.
- Ensure appropriate systems are in place to manage the facilities and programs in a manner that protects FIU.
- Lead facilities renovations and new construction projects.
- Develop, implement, and interpret policies and procedures related to the successful management of facilities and programs.
- Interpret and explain FIU policies and procedures to team members and ensure alignment.
- Maintain close working relationships with the Student Government Association (SGA) and other entities on campus.
- Conduct strategic planning and develop relationships with Student Government and other university agencies.
- Work collaboratively with stakeholders (e.g., students, faculty, staff, and community partners) to make the WRC a central hub for engagement.
- Develop and administer long- and short-term plans for the department to include programs, services, and facilities aligned with university goals and metrics.
- Lead assessment initiatives and identify trends in the field to determine priorities for operations.
- Prepare and submit periodic reports to enable planning, direction, and evaluation of recreational programs and facilities.
- Represent FIU on appropriate committees and at conferences on the national, state, and university levels.
- Represent and promote the department throughout the university community through cooperative programming, partnerships, and committee participation.
- Administer all risk management policies and procedures pertaining to the WRC operation.
- Perform essential duties in emergencies such as hurricanes, storms, or other university emergency closings.
- Be available to report to work as needed during university emergency closings with appropriate notification of a department administrator.
- In collaboration with Advancement and community partners, identify opportunities for revenue growth in line with the overall strategic direction for Wellness and Recreation Centers.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
The new Senior Director must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices and innovations concerning wellness, recreation, and holistic student development in a large and growing state institutional setting. The Senior Director should be an experienced or aspiring leader who has had success building and advancing a progressive program at another institution, is capable of managing multiple priorities on two distinct campuses, possesses demonstrated staff development and team-building skills, and is equipped to contribute at both a strategic and tactical level to a vibrant and fast-paced Division of Academic & Student Affairs at Florida International University.
It is crucial that Florida International University identify a competent and visionary individual who can develop and promote the team, set Wellness and Recreation Center priorities around the facilities and operations, focus on high-end service and response to the FIU community, and successfully lead the program forward.
- The responsibilities of this position in the past were split between two individuals functioning at the two distinct campuses. With this new Senior Director position, FIU is signaling a purposeful intent to bring a sense of synergy, unity, and forward focus to the WRC department and a renewed commitment to the well-being of the student body and the FIU community. Being the inaugural Senior Director, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to be innovative and creative, with a measure of autonomy to put their professional mark on the program and establish new benchmarks for many years to come on these world-class facilities and programs. Over the last two years, two upper-level administrators have functioned as Interim Co-Directors and have worked diligently to align the operations, facilities, and finances of the two Recreation Centers with standard best practices, all to ensure that the new Senior Director, upon arrival, will be set up for success and will have a solid foundation on which to build. There is an expectation that the Senior Director will ignite enthusiasm and create excitement about the change in this permanent and dedicated role.
- The ability to grow, develop, and mentor a large and diverse professional staff, while also building a solid and dedicated team, will be critical for success. The staff across Wellness and Recreation Centers is large and diverse, with a dedicated group of seasoned and newer professionals in leadership roles, so the Senior Director must be a strong motivator with high-level supervisory and staff development skills. The current staff reporting to the Senior Director is highly committed to the vision of a strong and supportive team, and they are dedicated to providing the best possible experience to the FIU community. The staff works very hard, and the new Senior Director must make it a priority to get to know each person quickly, learn their particular needs, develop trust and confidence across the board, ascertain and understand the various responsibilities they perform and roles they play, and empower them to continue the excellent work they are currently doing. The Senior Director must be prepared to provide comprehensive professional support across the board, quickly fill vacancies, and ensure that measures are in place to promote retention and ongoing job satisfaction.
- The Senior Director must commit to a comprehensive culture of collaboration and partnering across campus for maximum effectiveness; FIU is 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 Department of Wellness and Recreation Centers is both broad and deep, interacting actively with both internal stakeholders and the surrounding communities, so it will be crucial that the new Senior Director quickly reach out across both MMC and BBC to build strong relationships and partnerships that foster ongoing positive interactions and ensure that they are a “connector” in all instances. These connections are essential to assessing real needs, promoting lasting partnerships, and providing high-end service to all constituencies. The new Senior Director should, at their earliest convenience, conduct both internal and external “listening tours” to connect to campus stakeholders, understand the needs of the staff and students, and begin to align needs and resources.
- The Recreation Centers at both campuses are funded primarily through student fees, with only minimal additional revenue streams. The Senior Director should be prepared to quickly determine the top priorities associated with the departmental budgets, discover where funds are being allocated, and devise a plan to best utilize the funds on hand, while also focusing on the possibilities for new and innovative fundraising opportunities that could enhance any planned or future initiatives.
- The scope of responsibilities of this position is broad, overseeing all operations and services for two Recreation Centers on two campuses, so the Senior Director will need to quickly become familiar with all aspects under their purview to develop a comprehensive list of priorities. On a rapidly growing campus such as FIU, the Senior Director will need to prioritize a great deal of time upon arrival for learning the nuances and priorities of the campus, discovering the internal needs of the staff and the department, understanding the fiscal landscape and needs, and beginning the process of reaching out across the university and establishing themselves in this position as the “face” of Wellness and Recreation Centers. It is expected that the Senior Director will be an active participant on campus, attend student and university events, listen carefully to needs and expectations both within and external to the department, work alongside staff, mentor student employees, serve on divisional and campus-wide committees, champion and promote the programs and services of the department, and generally be present in the life of the FIU community. In conjunction with the university’s strategic plan, establishing a new and comprehensive strategic plan for Wellness and Recreation Centers will lay the foundation for success and offer a road map to the future.
- Diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice are essential parts of the FIU community, and the Senior Director should be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts. There are many underrepresented populations within the institution, explicitly designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and Wellness and Recreation should be a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased environment. The new Senior Director should be a champion for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in all its forms and should strive to nurture and embrace these concepts throughout the organization.
- As the institution looks to the future, developing data-driven analyses and solutions will be critical for success. The Senior Director will be tasked with compiling and analyzing a significant amount of data and then presenting that data to various constituencies with recommendations for utilizing the findings. With two different Recreation Centers serving the very different populations of MMC and BBC, the Senior Director has the ongoing responsibility of continuing the alignment efforts of the two facilities and their programs under one administrative umbrella. It will be crucial to understand the importance of data-driven decision-making, promote a culture of assessment, develop a comprehensive assessment plan for the department, and determine methods for implementing findings to push the initiatives forward. Devising solutions based on hard data can undoubtedly lend significant credibility to these new initiatives and the search for new resources.
- Across the board, stakeholders reiterated that they like working at FIU, are very supportive of each other, enjoy the vibrancy, growth, and fast pace of the university, feel much camaraderie, and believe that there are many opportunities to make a big difference in this role. Enrollment is growing, and the university is recognized as a growing influence in Florida and across the Southeast. Additionally, Miami is a major destination city, so the new Senior Director can expect all those amenities that come along with a large metropolitan city, including globally significant cultural events, world-renowned restaurants, major professional and college sports, famous beaches, and easy access to the world through Miami International Airport.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
In previous years, there were two distinct leaders of the Wellness and Recreation Centers located on the Modesto Maidique Campus and the Biscayne Bay Campus of Florida International University, which resulted in different experiences and expectations for users of the centers, student staff, and the full-time professional staff. There were also duplication of resources and a lack of synergy between the two facilities. After extensive assessment and benchmarking with other institutional systems, FIU leadership recommended that the operations of the two campuses combine into one comprehensive program. This is an exciting time for the newly-created Senior Director for Wellness and Recreation Centers to build a high-quality, comprehensive wellness and recreation program that focuses on best practices and innovation, is highly student-centered, and takes advantage of the uniqueness of each campus. FIU has now partnered with Spelman Johnson to conduct this crucial search.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
At an appropriate interval after joining FIU, the items listed below will define the initial success of the new Senior Director of Wellness and Recreation Centers.
- The WRC staff is working together cohesively as a team, morale and trust are high and rising, staff vacancies are being filled as quickly as possible, training goals are being consistently met, staff retention is strong, the work environment is positive and energized, and professional development opportunities are liberally available to staff.
- Strategic and operational plans are being developed and implemented (including a budget plan with goals for new initiatives), consistency is being developed between the staff and operations of the recreation centers at the MMC and BBC campuses, and assessment shows that utilization, memberships, program portfolio, and revenue generation are on the rise.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are supported, practiced, and embraced at all levels of the WRC operations.
- Solid relationships have been established, both internally to WRC and externally across campus, and the Senior Director is recognized for their commitment to collaboration and partnership-building.
- Satisfaction surveys show that students are satisfied with the service and options provided by the Recreation Centers at both campuses.
- Creative ideas, fresh innovations, and cutting-edge best practices are being developed, considered, and implemented.
- Communications are timely, robust, consistent, and transparent, both internally and to campus constituents.
- The Senior Director spends a great deal of time outside the office being “visible” around campus, attends departmental and other student- and university-sponsored programs, interacts effectively with the student body, and is recognized as the “face” of WRC.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS
Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a wellness- or recreation-related field and eight or more years of progressive experience; departmental requirements include a master’s degree and six years of relevant experience. Other essential requirements include professionally handling sensitive and confidential information; working and attending on- and off-campus events/meetings during evenings, weekends, and holidays; traveling to various FIU campuses; and being available 24/7 for emergencies. Departmental preferences include a master’s degree in higher education, sports management, business administration, exercise science, or equivalent, with ten years of full-time experience in collegiate recreational sports programs and facility management, and experience writing end-of-year reports, supervising staff, developing budgets, policies, and marketing plans, and managing a variety of innovative programming such as population-specific, online, or eSports initiatives. Other departmental preferences include understanding current and future collegiate health, wellness, and recreation trends; success in identifying new revenue streams; and demonstrated involvement/leadership with NIRSA. The successful candidate should possess strong leadership and problem-solving skills, excellent verbal and written communication and marketing capabilities, the ability to establish and maintain collaborative working relationships, solid multitasking skills, the ability to interpret and enforce FERPA, and proficiency in interacting with and relating to a culturally diverse community.
In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated above, other desired characteristics, skills, actions, and abilities noted from discussions with campus stakeholders include:
- A proven or aspiring leader with a solid background in wellness, recreation, or closely related field and robust programming experience at an institution of higher education
- Strong and confident leadership and management skills in a complex environment, with a forward-facing strategic vision that inspires others to trust and follow
- An ardent supporter of students; the ability to relate to, engage, and connect with students; an understanding of the changing needs of today’s student body; someone who values the opinions of students; and someone who possesses solid student development skills
- An excellent, professional, consistent, transparent, and frequent communicator who is comfortable reaching all levels of the university and can effectively “tell the story” of Wellness and Recreation Centers to the FIU community and beyond
- A great collaborator across the department, the division, other administration, faculty, and external colleagues
- A mindset that prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusivity, and social justice in all walks of the position
- A champion for comprehensive and holistic wellness for students, staff, and faculty, including knowledge and support of mental health issues
- A commitment to excellence in all aspects of the position, including operations, customer service, and staff support
- An innovator with a futuristic orientation and someone willing to try new opportunities, remain informed on recent trends and best practices in wellness and recreation services, and lead effective change processes as necessary
- Organizational development skills, a team-oriented approach that can be applied to a diverse and mission-based organization, and a willingness to advocate for staff
- A commitment to professional development in themselves and the staff and demonstrated involvement and leadership in a professional organization
- Strong budgeting and finance skills, with the ability to be strategic in all fiscal decisions, advocate for departmental needs, and recognize the limits of the state budgeting system
- A strategic and data-informed decision-maker with solid assessment and problem-solving skills.
- An activator with the ability to multitask, change directions when necessary, adapt to a rapidly growing, changing, and fast-paced environment, and enact initiatives quickly
- The ability to make difficult decisions when necessary, conduct difficult conversations when pertinent, listen to all sides of an issue, build consensus, and remain “cool under pressure” no matter the situation
- A willingness to be visible on campus, participate in campus life, and engage students and staff on all levels
- Political savvy and tact, with demonstrated experience in managing the administrative bureaucracy at a large, state-supported institution
- The ability to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn about the campuses and the recreation centers on each, accept input from staff, and then make well-informed decisions
- An optimistic attitude, energy and enthusiasm for the role, emotional intelligence and empathy, and the ability to have fun on the job
- Solid outdoor recreation experience
OVERVIEW OF THE DIVISION OF ACADEMIC & STUDENT AFFAIRS
The Division of Academic & Student Affairs at FIU provides high-quality education opportunities and effective academic and student support services to optimize learner success. With more than 40 departments, the division is committed to responding to the changing landscape of higher education, preparing students for the rigors of the 21st-century workplace while providing a meaningful learning experience for students in and outside the classroom.
The division teaches civic responsibility, leadership, and commitment to service; nurtures an understanding of diversity; and contributes to academic success by providing students with support services and experiential learning opportunities that foster an enduring connection to the university. The FIU community has a tradition of turning the impossible into the inevitable, and its students are part of this unforgettable journey.
LEADERSHIP OF ACADEMIC & STUDENT AFFAIRS
Dr. Elizabeth M. Bejar – Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs and Interim Provost
Dr. Elizabeth M. Bejar currently serves as Interim Provost, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at Florida International University. She also serves as Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs and is a key member of the university’s executive leadership team charged with working to define, refine, and support the strategic direction for the university and lead a transformative organizational change process to leverage student success across the broad enterprise of academic and student affairs.
In addition to foundational work teaching in the public schools, she previously served as an Academic Policy Analyst for the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and has been part of the fabric of FIU since 2003. She was the inaugural Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Accountability, building the office from the ground up and serving a critical role in establishing and sustaining the university’s culture of evidence-based practices and organizational goals consistent with continuous quality improvement. She has previously served as Vice Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at FIU.
Joe Paulick – Associate Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs Auxiliary Operations
As the Associate Vice President for the Division of Academic & Student Affairs Auxiliary Operations at Florida International University, Paulick provides leadership and administrative oversight for the Department of Housing and Residential Life, Graham Center, Wolfe University Center, Children’s Creative Learning Center, Wellness and Recreation Centers, and the division’s facilities planning, renovations, and construction. Paulick focuses on creating student-centered environments that complement the academic experience by having operations based on best practices, well-maintained and modern facilities, and a dedication to employees receiving quality supervision. The Auxiliary Operations Unit includes over 400 student employees and 150 full-time employees. Paulick has presented at regional and national conferences on various topics and is considered an expert in student housing. He has been faculty at the National Housing Training Institute and Regional Entry Level Institute. Paulick was hired in 2013 as Director of Housing and was promoted to Associate Vice President in 2019.
Sanyo Mathew – Assistant Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs Auxiliary Operations
As the Assistant Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs Auxiliary Operations, Mathew is a division leader supervising departments, personnel, facilities, and budgets of Wellness and Recreation Centers and Student Unions at MMC and BBC campuses. Mathew’s responsibility includes over 75 full-time and 300 student employees, a $12M budget, 600,000 square feet of space, and five acres of outdoor programming spaces such as courts, fields, trails, etc. Mathew leads and oversees construction and renovation projects, focusing on strategic planning, business processes, organizational culture, and student learning outcomes. Mathew leads major reorganization efforts to achieve higher student satisfaction, greater financial performance, and improved efficiency, and is also responsible for sustainability efforts, emergency preparedness, and facility planning and design.
ORGANIZATIONAL CHART FOR WELLNESS AND RECREATION CENTERS
FIU is Miami’s public research university. Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, both on campus and fully online, FIU is worlds ahead in its service to the academic and local community.
MISSION, VISION, VALUES, AND STRATEGIC PLAN
Florida International University is an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving its students and the diverse population of South Florida. FIU is committed to high-quality teaching, state-of-the-art research and creative activity, and collaborative engagement with local and global communities.
Florida International University will achieve exceptional student-centered learning and upward economic mobility, produce meaningful research and creative activities, and lead transformative innovations locally and globally, resulting in recognition as a top-50 public university.
- Truth — in the pursuit, generation, dissemination, and application of knowledge
- Freedom — of thought and expression
- Respect — for diversity and the dignity of the individual
- Responsibility — as stewards of the environment and citizens of the world
- Excellence — in intellectual, personal, and operational endeavors
The FIU Next Horizon 2025 strategic plan honors the accomplishments of past strategic plans. It continues FIU’s commitment to exceptional learner success and the highest level of university research and innovation as we strive for national recognition as a top-50 public university.
To read about FIU Next Horizon 2025, visit https://stratplan.fiu.edu/docs/20338_EXT_Strategic_Plan_2025_Booklet_Phase_2_052720.pdf.
Dr. Kenneth A. Jessell – Interim President
Dr. Kenneth A. Jessell is the Interim President of Florida International University. He was appointed to this position on Jan. 21, 2022.
Before he was appointed Interim President, Dr. Jessell served as Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer at FIU from 2009 to 2022. In this position, he was responsible for the management and administration of the university’s financial, facility, and business service operations. Dr. Jessell is also a professor of finance in the College of Business Administration at FIU.
Before coming to FIU, Dr. Jessell served as the Senior Vice President for Financial Affairs at Florida Atlantic University. During his 26-year career at FAU, Dr. Jessell served in several key leadership positions, including Interim University Provost, Interim Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the FAU Foundation, Associate University Provost, and Associate Dean in the College of Business Administration. Dr. Jessell started his employment at FAU in 1983 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Finance and Real Estate.
Florida International University values diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral to our mission as a student-centered public research university strongly focused on learning, research, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity so that its graduates are prepared to succeed in a global market. FIU embraces and strives to ensure that a diversity of cultures, races and ethnicities, genders, political and religious beliefs, physical and learning differences, sexual orientations and identities is thriving on our campus and within our community.
Application and 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 J. Scott Derrick at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the FIU website at https://www.fiu.edu/.
FIU is a member of the State University System of Florida and an Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.
Florida International University values diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral to our mission as a student-centered public research university strongly focused on learning, research, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity so that its graduates are prepared to succeed in a global market. FIU embraces and strives to ensure that a diversity of cultures, races and ethnicities, genders, political and religious beliefs, physical and learning differences, sexual orientations, and identities is thriving on our campus and within our community.
University History: https://www.fiu.edu/about/history/index.html
University Leadership: https://president.fiu.edu/meet-our-team/university-officers/index.html
FIU Academics: https://www.fiu.edu/academics/index.html