RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the chancellor, the vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life (VCSACL) is the senior student affairs officer at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, leading a nationally recognized team of student affairs professionals in creating a supportive living and learning environment of responsive care and support for retention, graduation, and success beyond the university experience. The vice chancellor is a member of the chancellor’s cabinet and provides strategic leadership, vision, and management in overseeing a comprehensive portfolio of programs, services, and strategic initiatives that promote intellectual, physical, and emotional well-being, helping UMass Amherst students transform their potential to match their highest aspirations. Fully committed to excellence, innovation, and social justice and in partnership with campus colleagues, the vice chancellor will spearhead a division that contributes to students’ successful educational experiences, promotes their development, physical and mental health, wellbeing, and safety, supports an actively engaged and diverse student body, and challenges students to become leaders in their community and the world.
The vice chancellor will be a highly respected leader in the field of education with significant experience and expertise in current and emerging student affairs trends, particularly those with legal implications and demonstrate deep preparation and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of today’s college environment and culture. The vice chancellor will not only display exceptional administrative, managerial, and financial acumen within the context of a large, complex organization but will also reflect decisions and behaviors rooted in the advancement of access, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The vice chancellor will oversee a comprehensive student affairs portfolio with an annual budget exceeding $150 million which is comprised of over 400 staff and 1,000 student employees across the following departments and services:
Student Affairs & Campus Life Office of the Vice Chancellor:
SACL Human Resources
SACL Budget & Finance
Assessment, Strategic Planning, & Technology
Center for Early Education and Care
Campus Life & Wellbeing
Center for Counseling and Psychological Health
Recreation and Wellbeing
Dean of Students
Dean of Students Office
Student Conduct & Community Standards Office
New Student Orientation and Transitions
Student Organization Development & Management
Off Campus Student Life
Sorority & Fraternity Life
Mt. Ida Campus Student Life
Advocacy, Inclusion, & Support
CMASS: Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success
Center for Women and Community
Diversity & Education Training
College Access & Community Outreach
Student Veteran Resource Center
Office of Religious and Spiritual Life
Undergraduate Student Success (with joint reporting line to the Provost’s Office)
Student Success Academic Programs
Student Success Persistence Programs & Advising Support
Student Success Outreach
UMass Police Department
Residence Hall Security
Student Engagement and Leadership
Student Legal Services Office
Facilities & Media
Student Organization Resource Center
Student Organization Development & Management
Student Government (both undergraduate and graduate)
Center for Student Business
The vice chancellor cultivates close and collaborative relationships with colleagues in academic affairs, undergraduate education, administration and finance, enrollment management, equity and inclusion, the graduate school, university relations, information technology, and athletics as key partners in efforts to create a student-centered community. The vice chancellor further develops relationships with key external stakeholders, including in the Amherst community and the broader Five Colleges network in the Pioneer Valley. Additionally, the vice chancellor will be actively engaged in ongoing conversations with students on an individual basis as well as through close connection with the three student campus governance bodies—the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Residence Hall Association. Moreover, the vice chancellor will be a highly visible and engaging figure on campus who builds strong and trusting relationships with both undergraduate and graduate student bodies broadly. That would of course include through engagement with student governance bodies, but also encompasses Registered Student Organizations, athletics, the performing arts, and other activities that enhance campus life. The undergraduate and graduate student bodies should perceive the vice chancellor as the most visible and strongest partner in campus leadership, alongside the Chancellor.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
UMass Amherst’s vice chancellor will be a student-centered, innovative, and collaborative leader who embraces forward-thinking strategies to continually reimagine and foster a contemporary and state-of-the-art student affairs division, meeting and exceeding the needs of today’s UMass student.
A master’s degree in an appropriate and relevant discipline and a substantial and proven record of broad, progressive, and substantive senior-level administrative management and leadership experience in student affairs/higher education are required. A doctoral degree is preferred. The ideal candidate will be a collaborative, highly visible, transparent, and approachable student-centered leader who is willing to engage the UMass community while purposefully leading through change. Additionally, the next VCSACL will possess a demonstrated commitment to addressing issues of social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within a diverse student population as well as with a range of professional staff, faculty, families, senior administrative colleagues, other university constituents and external organizations.
The ideal candidate will have the following personal and professional qualities:
- Personal and professional integrity in the highest degree.
- A strong student advocate and compassionate mentor who demonstrates a proactive approach in dealing with student issues, has experience in handling and resolving conflict, and is willing to spend time supporting student activities and interests.
- Demonstrated financial acumen; effective human, financial, and organizational management experience; evidence-based resource allocation experience; and the ability to address fiscal constraints collaboratively and creatively.
- Appreciation for and ability to lead effectively within a non-hierarchical, decentralized and highly collaborative campus community that values shared governance, including good political acumen with a keen sense of how and when to engage the participation of different constituencies and the ability to build productive alliances.
- Skill in working with administrators, faculty, staff, and students in a climate of openness and transparency, integrity, trust, mutual respect, and collaborative problem-solving.
- Understanding of and commitment to the academic, research, and service missions of a residential public university and to enhancing the quality of student learning at the graduate, undergraduate, and professional levels.
- Strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
- Sensitivity to individuals and the ability to work effectively with and understand the interests of students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds.
- The ability to transform ambiguity into clarity, to articulate student and campus needs with persuasion and conviction, and to represent SACL to the university and the university to the external community.
- Excellent listening skills: capacity and willingness to engage in intellectual debate and discussion.
- High degree of energy, initiative, and organization.
- Self-confident, creative, and willing to take risks and pilot and evaluate new programs.
- Knowledge of national best practices in student life, including the ability to use research, data, and assessment to guide decision-making.
- Approachable, optimistic, intellectually curious with personal warmth, generosity of spirit, a can-do attitude, and strong resilience in the face of criticism.
- Ability to select, develop, motivate, and win the respect and loyalty of staff, including strong mentoring, coaching, and team-building skills with proven success in developing professional staff and creating an effective team.
- Demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to supporting the unique characteristics and challenges faced by graduate and professional students, both in and outside the classroom, and the ability to utilize institutional knowledge and capital to provide graduate and professional students with needed resources.
- The capacity to lead actively and effectively in a highly unionized environment. The majority of employees in SACL are union members and the principles of collective bargaining greatly influence the daily interactions of the vice chancellor and staff.
- Evidence of leadership in professional associations as a visible, student-centered administrator and leader who contributes to national research and forums.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
Shelly Perdomo-Ahmed is currently serving as interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life. She assumed the role on June 5, 2023, following the departure of Dr. Brandi Hephner LaBanc, who accepted a position at Old Dominion University. LaBanc served as vice chancellor since 2020. The position was previously held by Enku Gelaye who joined UMass Amherst in 2011 as dean of students and was subsequently appointed vice chancellor in 2014.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
In his first academic year at UMass, Chancellor Javier Reyes has established setting a vision for the campus as his highest priority. The strategic planning process will challenge the university community to consider what is next and address important questions, such as:
- How do we envision the evolution of UMass Amherst over the next five to ten years?
- What will be the impact of scholarship and research?
- How will the university define student success?
- What will be the university’s contributions to the greater community?
- What does it mean to be a destination of choice?
- What does it mean to be a leader in higher education?
A steering committee will be formed to lead the strategic planning process. They will work in collaboration with the chancellor, campus leadership, and the university’s governance bodies to determine the committee’s membership composition. The steering committee will also be charged with recommending a comprehensive campus-wide strategic planning process, which will include the formation of subcommittees around specific focus areas. These focus areas will likely cover topics such as academic excellence, research and innovation, student success, operations and logistics, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The strategic plan will be finalized by the beginning of fall 2024.
UMass Amherst has a long-standing commitment to social progress and social justice, valuing diversity and equity, and striving for inclusive excellence in the classroom, residence halls, and beyond. The university’s Diversity Strategic Plan recognizes that UMass Amherst has a profound legacy of and commitment to social justice and that by embracing diverse people, ideas, and perspectives, UMass creates a vibrant learning and working environment. The vice chancellor will be an experienced leader of diversity efforts and will demonstrate a commitment to continuing to advance social justice and inclusiveness initiatives on a campus committed to growth and change in this critical area.
Residential life at UMass Amherst is one of the largest on-campus housing systems in the country and sets the tone for the UMass student experience. Nearly 14,000 students live in 52 residence halls, with families, staff, and graduate students accessing an additional 240 apartment units throughout campus. On-campus housing is guaranteed for entering first year students; over 63 percent of all undergraduates live on campus. While the vast majority of first year, sophomores, and transfer students live on campus, a significant number of juniors and seniors also enjoy on-campus living. Greater demand for on-campus housing in recent years requires that the vice chancellor act as an engaged and creative leader for addressing the needs for a greater variety of affordable housing choices for students both on and off campus. The chancellor is committed to leveraging the significant residential population to promote a greater “college town” feel in Amherst and increasing engagement in campus programs, including athletic and performing arts events.
UMass Amherst joined international partners in signing the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and College. The Okanagan Charter calls for colleges and universities to embed health into all aspects of campus culture. UMass is one of just 14 universities in the United States that has adopted the charter. The vice chancellor will be a key campus leader in implementing the commitments of UMass Amherst as a Health Promoting University.
In transitioning to UMass Amherst, the VCSACL will encounter the following additional opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:
- Maintain and deepen a dynamic and synergistic working relationship with academic affairs to support the university’s active learning-centered community focus. The decentralized nature of the university’s academic structure will require the vice chancellor, with the support of the provost, to develop strong working relationships with the leadership of each of the colleges.
- Enhance and increase the level and quality of student engagement through a variety of avenues, including athletics, arts, student organizations, community engagement, and other activities promoting school spirit and connectedness.
- Promote systems and processes that enhance infrastructure for supporting mental as well as physical health of students and their wellbeing.
- Engage as a key partner with other campus leaders to map out and implement a long-term plan for using technology to enhance and render more cohesive the holistic student experience.
- Promote the capacity of undergraduate and graduate student bodies for intergroup dialogue and making connections across differences of background and opinions.
- Act as a strong, transparent, and trusted leader overseeing the UMass Police Department as an important unit supporting the university mission.
- Ensure that current programs and services are benchmarked against competitive institutions and nationally recognized best practices and articulate a strategic vision for the ongoing development of the division that is consistent with the university’s strategic plan.
- Possess a passionate commitment to the education, development, and empowerment of young people; serve as advocate and spokesperson for students to the university administration; and advise the chancellor and senior officers of student issues.
- Shared governance is valued by all members of the university community and is codified in the Wellman Document that outlines a specific role for the student government association in the campus decision making process.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The items listed below will define the new vice chancellor’s success throughout the first year of employment:
- The vice chancellor has developed strong relationships with staff, faculty, and students and is deeply familiar with all departments within SACL.
- The university plays an important role in the Amherst community. The vice chancellor will be expected to connect with key stakeholders and be visible in the local community.
- There is a common understanding of the role SACL staff should play in achieving the chancellor’s priorities, and institutional mission is evident across all stakeholders.
- Trust has been developed among staff across the division. Responsibilities are delegated to the appropriate departments, and leaders are held accountable for outcomes.
- Decision-making processes are efficient, inclusive, and transparent.
- The budget development process is transparent and connected to the division’s strategic priorities.
- Division departments are fully staffed.
- There is a strong sense of shared vision and collegiality within the division, and a strong sense of collaboration with other Vice Chancelleries.
OVERVIEW OF STUDENT AFFAIRS AND CAMPUS LIFE
Student affairs and campus life at UMass is a campus community that actively embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion grounded in core values of compassion, care, and concern for others. The community is centered around eight key functions that create a supportive living and learning environment of responsive care and support for retention, graduation, and success beyond college:
- Transition and connect students to campus.
- Foster a positive campus climate.
- Cultivate belonging, inclusion, and diversity.
- Develop opportunities for civic engagement and co-curricular learning.
- Create immersive living-learning environments.
- Support wellbeing, health, and safety, including listening, care, and focused support for students in crisis.
- Prepare students for a successful transition to their post-UMass future.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is the flagship public higher education campus in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, making a profound, transformative impact to the common good. Founded in 1863, UMass Amherst is the largest public research university in New England, distinguished by the excellence and breadth of academic, research, and community outreach programs. More than 28,000 students are enrolled at UMass Amherst, including more than 22,000 undergraduates from 71 countries and 50 states.
The Student Body
Total enrollment: 32,045
Retention rate: 91%
The University of Massachusetts Amherst, as a public land-grant institution, has a responsibility to provide access and opportunities for all people, while demonstrating our commitment to inclusion of historically underrepresented groups. We believe that a culturally diverse campus is integral to academic excellence and that our students, faculty, and staff should reflect the diverse world in which we live.
The university recognizes and values the wide range of voices and perspectives in all spheres of the academic enterprise. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is committed to policies that promote inclusiveness, social justice, and respect for all, regardless of race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, political belief or affiliation, marital status, veteran status, immigration status, gender identity and expression, genetic information, or any other characteristic or status protected by state or federal laws.
Javier Reyes, Chancellor
Javier A. Reyes, PhD, became the 31st leader of the University of Massachusetts Amherst on July 1, 2023, following his selection as chancellor of the commonwealth’s flagship campus by the UMass board of trustees.
Reyes is an economist who has devoted his career to the cause of public higher education, holding leadership positions at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), West Virginia University, and the University of Arkansas. He most recently served as interim chancellor of UIC, Chicago’s largest university campus. Born and raised in Mexico, Reyes is the first Hispanic to serve as chancellor of UMass Amherst.
Reyes received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Campus Estado de Mexico, in 1998 and his doctorate in economics from Texas A&M University in 2003. He is actively engaged with the TIAA Diversity Council and the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA).
The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers services, support, and benefits, including health, dental, and vision insurance; life and long-term disability insurance; generous paid time off; tuition remission; and robust retirement options.
Review of applications will begin December 8, 2023, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Mark Hall 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.
The anticipated hiring range is $310,000-$370,00 annually, commensurate with education and experience.
Visit the University of Massachusetts Amherst website at www.umass.edu
The University of Massachusetts Amherst values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity for all persons regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other status protected by law.