The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford) and Titusville (Pitt-Titusville) invite applications, nominations, and expressions of interest for the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. The position oversees academic affairs on both campuses.

Founded in 1963 as a regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh and set in the heart of the scenic Alleghenies, Pitt-Bradford is a four-year baccalaureate institution enrolling approximately 1,200 students. Pitt-Bradford offers high-quality teaching, supported by the resources of a world-class research university, in a supportive, friendly, inclusive, and student-focused academic environment that is ideal for students who want to earn a world-renowned degree in a personalized atmosphere. Pitt-Titusville is a two-year regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh that includes an Education and Training Hub. Pitt-Bradford offers more than forty majors, which lead to bachelor’s and associate degrees, in addition to a wide range of minors and pre-professional programs. Pitt-Titusville offers an associate degree program in nursing.

The Position

ROLE OF THE POSITION

Reporting to the President and functioning as a key member of the Cabinet, the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs (VP/Dean) serves as the chief academic officer for the Bradford and Titusville campuses, providing intellectual leadership for all academic programs and student learning through the university’s curriculum, instruction, scholarship, and public service. The VP/Dean develops and oversees policies, academic advising, and budgets; advocates for and promotes quality instruction, student success, integrated planning, and the expansion of student learning outcomes to meet the educational needs of students in a multicultural environment; offers guidance to, and receives recommendations from, the Faculty Senate regarding the planning, implementation, and review of academic programs, services, activities, and related matters; and provides innovative and successful leadership and vision in instruction, pedagogy, and program development. Working in close collaboration with the President and Cabinet, the VP/Dean aligns academic priorities with the university’s strategic plan and serves as the chair of the Planning and Budget Committee for the Bradford campus. Additionally, the VP/Dean coordinates the work of the division chairs and all teaching faculty, including the oversight of academic committee meetings; supports faculty in academic excellence and continual professional development, including advancement in rank; evaluates faculty and programs by developing a comprehensive system for assessment and development through peer reviews and annual evaluations; and actively participates in internal governance by serving on university and campus committees.

The Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs is ultimately responsible for 110 faculty and administrative staff, including nine direct reports, and oversees division budgets totaling $10.5 million.

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

The successful candidate will possess a doctoral degree from an accredited institution, a record of successful teaching, and outstanding scholarship commensurate with tenure as a full professor. The successful candidate will possess a demonstrated history of administrative, programmatic, and supervisory experience in academic affairs that includes program development, planning and budgeting, and faculty evaluation. The successful candidate will demonstrate superior academic leadership ability, commitment to the highest standards of excellence and integrity, evidence of success in achieving goals, and strong interpersonal communication skills. Successful candidates should possess a high degree of knowledge of best practices in academic affairs and a proven record of and a commitment to supporting and developing excellence in instructional pedagogy. Experience working with a unionized faculty is preferred. The successful candidate will receive expedited tenure review for faculty status.

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 teaching, service, and research record that qualifies for an appointment at the rank of professor with tenure.
  • The ability to build collaborative partnerships in all facets of the role.
  • A commitment to promote and support the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at all times, as well as an interest in the specific needs of traditionally underserved student populations.
  • Strong and inspirational leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and a strategic vision, with the ability to build a coalition around a robust infrastructure and push an agenda forward.
  • Demonstrated ability to understand and connect with faculty.
  • An excellent communicator who can reach all levels of the university, especially in communicating the strengths of the Pitt-Bradford academic experience and articulating a compelling vision for the mix of liberal arts and professional programs it offers.
  • An ardent supporter of students who can relate to, engage, and connect on all levels and understand the changing needs of today’s post-COVID student body.
  • Knowledge of professional academic accreditation processes.
  • Astute and transparent budget and resource management skills.
  • Fundraising capacity and the willingness to include and mentor faculty in appropriate philanthropic activity.
  • A creative problem-solver and change agent who is also entrepreneurial, developing new programs to meet 21st-century challenges.
  • A willingness to serve as the “face” of Academic Affairs and consistently advocate for the needs of the staff and departments.
  • Knowledge of retention initiatives, demonstrating excellence in creating best practices around student retention.
  • Willingness to work collaboratively with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and the faculty to reorient existing or develop new academic programs in response to evolving student needs and interests.
  • Energy and passion for the job and the institution.
  • The ability to listen carefully and actively, ask knowledgeable questions, and learn the division and its intricacies.
  • A commitment to a transparent work model who seeks and accepts input from faculty and staff, and then makes well-informed decisions.
  • The ability to process and manage information effectively and follow up systematically.
  • A strategic and data-informed decision-maker with solid assessment skills who is also able to collect and analyze data and think fast on their feet when necessary.
  • 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.
  • The ability to review major processes, policies, and procedures to look for efficiencies and opportunities to combine, collaborate, share, develop, or discard antiquated functions and practices.
  • Approachability, relatability, patience, adaptability, and a positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic attitude.
  • Organizational development skills, with the ability to determine strengths and effectively delegate human resources.
  • An understanding of the University of Pittsburgh’s brand name and the access to resources that this relationship allows.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Dr. Steve Hardin, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, retired in 2020 after 16 years in the role, and his successor served for a short time before moving to another career opportunity. Currently, the position is being filled on an interim basis. Pitt-Bradford has retained Spelman Johnson to assist in this critical search.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

The new VP/Dean must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices and trending innovations concerning current and future academic affairs practices. The VP/Dean should be an experienced or aspiring leader who has had success building and advancing a progressive educational program at another institution, is capable of managing multiple priorities, and is equipped to contribute at both a strategic and tactical level to a vibrant and highly student-centered academic affairs division that is eager for growth and development.

It is crucial to identify a competent and visionary individual who recognizes the importance of this role and its centrality to the continued sustainability of the two campuses and the success of the students. The following were identified as possible opportunities, priorities, and challenges that will face the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs upon arrival.

  • The Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs position is considered a “working executive,” meaning that the expectation is that the individual in this role will be accessible, approachable, and willing to work with the faculty and staff in each academic affairs unit to ensure the best possible student experience. Working side-by-side with the team promotes unity, camaraderie, and a sense of community within the division. Also, it shows the students that the VP/Dean, a top-level administrator, is willing to work on their behalf, no matter the situation or circumstance. The VP/Dean will be expected to be very visible and, in essence, serve as the “face” of academic affairs. The VP/Dean should prioritize getting out of the office and being seen, attending student events, participating in Pitt-Bradford activities, collaborating across academic affairs and student life, and spending quality time within the campus community.
  • Outstanding listening and communication skills are essential for a compelling new academic leader. Academic affairs oversees and supports faculty, curriculum, educational support services, and students, so the new VP/Dean must be equally comfortable communicating and collaborating with faculty, staff, and students. Given the institution’s size, there are clear expectations that the VP/Dean plays a high-profile role in building and sustaining the campus community and fostering academic and inclusive excellence. Faculty and academic affairs staff seek a committed leader with a vision that will be developed and refined by learning what is already occurring and then collaborating with faculty and staff to make needed changes.
  • There are outstanding opportunities to build an inclusive culture of academic excellence that incorporates new faculty development initiatives and more significant support for an increasingly diverse faculty. After faculty hires are completed this year, nearly one-third of the tenure-track faculty will have worked three years or less at Pitt-Bradford.
  • The ability to grow, develop, and mentor a high-functioning professional staff while building a solid and dedicated faculty team will be critical for success. The staff in each of the units within academic affairs at Pitt-Bradford comprises staunchly committed professionals who are wholly devoted to the students at Pitt-Bradford, so the VP/Dean must be a strong motivator with advanced supervisory and staff development skills. Navigating through the needs of this multidimensional structure will be a crucial task for the VP/Dean, and they should be prepared to function with empathy, emotional intelligence, and a mentoring mindset. To do so, the VP/Dean should prioritize quickly getting to know the divisional leadership, deans, and other departmental staff as individuals, learn their particular needs, develop trust and confidence across the board, ascertain and understand the various responsibilities they perform and roles they play, be available at all times, provide comprehensive professional development opportunities and support, and oversee the ongoing promotion of strong, cohesive teams. These efforts should continue to increase faculty and staff knowledge and skills in current best practices in academic affairs and an evolving higher education landscape, improve morale, promote confidence, and build trust across the division. Additionally, the VP/Dean should bring a strong human relations philosophy to the position, focusing on effective hiring practices, retention techniques, and a positive work environment for the entire division.
  • Pitt-Bradford is committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of the campus culture. Strong collaboration across the university is an absolute necessity to ensure success. It will be crucial that the new VP/Dean quickly reach out across the institutional landscape to consistently build solid and mutually beneficial relationships that foster ongoing positive interactions. These connections are essential to assess the real needs of campus stakeholders, provide exceptional programs and services for the university community, and ensure that academic affairs is known for its student-centered approach that works collaboratively and effectively with student affairs. Upon arrival, the VP/Dean should prioritize a great deal of time conducting a “listening tour” internally with academic affairs and across campus to maintain and strengthen current relationships while simultaneously establishing new partnerships.
  • Experience and a commitment to the support and development of excellence in instructional pedagogy will be a focus of the VP/Dean, and the successful candidate should possess deep expertise in their discipline, pedagogy, student growth and success, teaching diverse learners, instructional technology, faculty and staff development, and innovation in higher education.
  • With an impressive new STEM building preparing to go online and new health care professions programs in development, there are opportunities to create a new organizational structure for science, engineering, and health care faculty to encourage collaboration, strengthen programs, and create new ones.
  • While there continues to be robust investment in Pitt-Bradford, and community members report a history of intelligent and strategic investment and budgeting decisions, the implementation of a new system-wide University of Pittsburgh budgeting approach, coupled with some enrollment loss during the COVID pandemic, calls for a new VP/Dean who manages resources effectively and transparently and can advocate for Pitt-Bradford’s academic initiatives and needs.
  • There is a clear commitment to the liberal arts and an openness to rethinking how the liberal arts might be articulated in connection with the growing professional and technical programs. Some faculty suggested they would like to see a VP/Dean who could lead the further development of experiential education at Pitt-Bradford as a connector between the liberal arts and professional education and as a key to student success. It would be valuable to have a VP/Dean who can lead discussions about the value and meaning of the liberal arts today to foster meaningful curricular change.
  • The faculty recently voted to be part of a University of Pittsburgh system faculty union, and collective bargaining is in process. A VP/Dean who can effectively manage change with a unionized faculty is highly desirable. Faculty-administration relations on campus are collegial, which is not expected to change. Since the collective bargaining process is at the system level, the VP/Dean will not be directly involved with negotiations but will need to work within the parameters of the final agreement once implemented.
  • Pitt-Bradford boasts one of the most diverse student enrollments in the University of Pittsburgh system and is committed to supporting its students. While current faculty recruiting efforts have been somewhat successful in diversifying the faculty, the staff makeup is not as diverse. Campus members recognize the need to continue to grow the program and develop additional support to ensure all campus community members flourish. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential parts of the Pitt-Bradford community, and the VP/Dean must be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts, particularly within the academic portfolio.
  • The VP/Dean will play a central role in a small but excellent and highly collegial President’s Cabinet. The VP/Dean will need to seek ways to advocate for the university at the system level and within the Bradford community.
  • Faculty and staff at Pitt-Bradford are highly dedicated to the students and their success and expect a VP/Dean who matches and supports this commitment.
  • Stakeholders unanimously agreed that the area around Bradford is ideal for the outdoor enthusiast, with hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, camping, and skiing opportunities, to name a few, within a short distance from campus. Buffalo, NY, and Erie, PA, are approximately 90 minutes from Bradford, and Pittsburgh, PA, and Toronto, CN, are within a three-hour drive, so there is relatively easy access to larger urban areas if needed. Pitt-Bradford and the City of Bradford have a positive and synergistic relationship, so there are opportunities for town-and-gown involvement. These same stakeholders also adamantly indicated how much they enjoy working at Pitt-Bradford, the collegiality that exists throughout the institution, and the support they all expect and receive from each other, particularly in times of need.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

At an appropriate interval after joining Pitt-Bradford, the items listed below will initially define success for the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.

  • The academic affairs team is working together productively; professional development is prevalent at all levels; the VP/Dean meets and interacts collaboratively with the administrative staff, deans, and faculty regularly; the vision for the division and its units is clear; retention and satisfaction levels are rising; vacant positions are being filled; and the faculty feel empowered and view the VP/Dean as a trusted leader and advocate.
  • The VP/Dean responds positively and effectively to faculty feedback.
  • An emphasis has been placed on maintaining educational quality, incorporating best practices in pedagogy, supporting faculty in delivering a fulfilling academic experience by offering additional training and resources, and improving student engagement.
  • The Pitt-Bradford stakeholders (faculty, staff, and students) recognize the VP/Dean as the “face” of academics at the institution, the VP/Dean is visible across campus attending student programs and official Pitt-Bradford events, student engagement opportunities are prevalent, and collaborative partnerships have been formed in support of student success initiatives.
  • Retention, persistence, and overall enrollment statistics are strong and rising.
  • Faculty are fully engaged in the mission and goals of academic affairs, strong partnerships are being facilitated across all division areas, and communication between the VP/Dean and faculty is open, transparent, and abundant.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are evident in all decisions, policies, and procedures emanating from academic affairs.
  • The VP/Dean is engaged and enthusiastic, their goals and objectives are clear and transparent, and new, innovative, cutting-edge academic programs are being developed and implemented.
  • Innovative ideas and new best practices are being suggested and implemented as much as possible, and the “needle” is being moved upward on student academic success in ways not previously attempted.
  • The President’s Cabinet is working cohesively as a team, and the VP/Dean is developing and implementing new strategic initiatives in support of the university’s mission.

Institution & Location

OVERVIEW OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

The office of academic affairs oversees the academic component of life at Pitt-Bradford, including course scheduling, curriculum review and planning, faculty hiring and development, educational student support services, and academic-related campus programming.

Academic affairs organizational chart

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

Pitt-Bradford

Pitt-Bradford provides the advantages of a small liberal arts college – a favorable student-to-faculty ratio, an intimate and attractive campus setting that is personal in scale, close and friendly interactions between students and staff, and well-rounded and varied co-curricular experiences.

Current student enrollment at Pitt-Bradford is nearly 1,100 students. Plans are to significantly expand enrollment during the next few years to reach 1,500 students. Of those currently enrolled, 71% are from 61 Pennsylvania counties, 15% from 35 New York counties, and 14% from 29 states and 24 countries. Seventy-nine percent of students live on campus. Though the Bradford region is not exceptionally diverse, 14% of Pitt-Bradford students are Black/African American, 5.5% are Hispanic, 6.0% are Asian, and 3.5% are multi-racial. Its 73 full-time and 17 part-time faculty create a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Sixty-three percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students; 88% have fewer than 30.

Pitt-Bradford’s 481-acre campus currently includes 24 academic and residential buildings. The city of Bradford, with a population of just over 8,200, is located in northwestern Pennsylvania, 160 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, 100 miles east of Erie, PA, and 80 miles south of Buffalo, NY. The campus is just a short drive away from many outdoor recreational opportunities, including a 42-mile trail system – part of which runs through campus – boating and kayaking, camping, skiing, snowmobile and ATV trails, a state park, and access to the Allegheny National Forest. The campus is less than a one-hour drive to Lake Chautauqua and an hour and a half to Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY. Bradford enjoys a relatively low cost of living.

Pitt-Titusville

The University of Pittsburgh at Titusville was established in 1963 to fill the postsecondary educational needs of the Oil Region. Creating the University of Pittsburgh’s fourth regional campus was bold but necessary. Since then, Titusville and the surrounding region have changed. Population decline and aging, as well as workforce shortages, required the University of Pittsburgh to again embark on a bold but necessary initiative for Titusville. The University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the creation of the Pitt-Titusville Education and Training Hub (Hub). The Hub provides Titusville and the residents and industries in Northwest Pennsylvania with opportunities for higher education and skills training to invigorate the workforce.

Current student enrollment at Titusville is nearly 50 students. This includes students enrolled in the Pitt-Bradford Nursing Program (offered on the Titusville campus) and those enrolled in the programs offered by the Hub partners.

MISSION, VISION, AND VALUES

Mission

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is a student-focused and inclusive educational community set in the heart of the scenic Alleghenies. Pitt-Bradford provides unique academic, cultural and recreational opportunities to our campus community, our region and beyond. Pitt-Bradford emphasizes whole-person development, student-faculty mentoring relationships, and innovative teaching-related research to prepare graduates to be responsible and productive citizens of a globally connected and sustainable world who value and embrace diverse perspectives.

Vision

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford will empower and inspire its students, faculty and staff to be innovative and enterprising to engage in a diverse world and enhance the quality of life in the region.

Values

Pitt-Bradford is committed to:

  • DEI: Equality of opportunity, human dignity and diversity.
  • Academics: Intellectual freedom and curiosity.
  • Accountability: Individual responsibility and mutual respect.
  • Sustainability: Environmental and economic sustainability.
  • Innovation: Imagine what is possible, foster creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, challenge constraints and drive progress.
  • Service: Leadership and service to our local, regional and global communities.

Strategic Plan

Pitt-Bradford has a long and successful history of strategic planning. “The Plan for Pitt-Bradford” will build upon the successes of its previous plans, help chart its course for the future, and help Pitt-Bradford reach new heights on the campus, in the local community, and in the region and beyond.

This planning process will be comprehensive and collaborative, involving the campus community members, the neighbors in the region, and beyond.

The comprehensive version of the new strategic plan will be posted soon.

LEADERSHIP

Rick Esch – President

President Rick Esch is a proud Pitt-Bradford and University of Pittsburgh graduate with deep roots both in the university community and the surrounding community. He began his career at his alma mater in 1995 as the Director of Auxiliary Services. In 1999, he was named Chief Business and Administrative Affairs Officer and was promoted to Vice President for Business Affairs in 2003. In 2012, he was named Vice President for Business Affairs at Pitt-Titusville.

After serving as Interim President for a year, he was appointed President on July 1, 2022.

In June 2021, he received Pitt-Bradford’s Staff Recognition Award for his leadership in helping the campus navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly 18 months, in addition to overseeing several campus departments, including Budget and Financial Reporting, Auxiliary Services, and Facilities Management, he represented Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville on the Chancellor’s Resilience Steering Committee and worked closely with Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office. He also collaborated with local, regional, and state agencies, including the McKean County and Crawford County Emergency Management agencies, UPMC, and Bradford Regional Medical Center.

He also assembled and led a COVID-19 Mitigation Response Team, which included representatives from most offices at Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville. Under his leadership, the team successfully implemented many changes on campus, including testing asymptomatic students weekly; isolating and quarantining symptomatic students; adapting the physical plant, including the dining hall and classrooms, to enable physical distancing; purchasing masks, signage, and other materials; and identifying vaccinations sites.

President Esch is very active in the Bradford community. He is a board member and immediate past chairman of Journey Health System, President and charter member of the Tuna Valley Trail Association, a board member and Managing Director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, and a board member and Vice Chairman of the Bradford Economic Development Corporation.

President Esch received his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business Executive MBA Program in 1998 and his Bachelor of Science, Environmental Science, from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in 1983.

To view the members of the President’s cabinet, visit https://www.upb.pitt.edu/about-us/office-president/presidents-cabinet.

DIVERSITY STATEMENT

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) was established in 2015 to help build the university into a world-class model of diversity and inclusion defined by inclusive excellence and an environment that allows everyone to thrive.
ODI is committed to maintaining an environment free from harassment and discrimination, fostering diversity and celebrating differences, educating the community on the benefits of diversity, promoting equity, eliminating discrimination, and advancing equal access to all opportunities at the university.
Given the size, complexity, and collegial nature of Pitt-Bradford, ODI does not do this alone. The campus community contributes to the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the work of faculty, staff, and students at all institution levels.

THE STUDENT BODY

Total Enrollment: 1,100

  • Men: 42%
  • Women: 58%
  • White: 67.3%
  • African American: 14%
  • Asian: 6%
  • Hispanic: 5.5%
  • Two or More Races: 3.5%
  • Race Unknown: 1.7%
  • Non-Resident: 1.5%
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander: .1%
  • First Generation: 41%
  • Pell eligible: 42%

Benefits Overview

  • Education
  • Health & Wellness
  • Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
  • Leaves of Absence
  • Retirement Savings Plan
  • Vacation/Personal Time Off
  • Defined Dollar Benefit

For more information: https://www.upb.pitt.edu/administrative-offices/human-resources

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. Inquiries and nominations are treated confidentially and can be sent to J. Scott Derrick, Managing Search Consultant, at jsd@spelmanandjohnson.com, Sharon Meagher, Search Consultant, at smm@spelmanandjohnson.com, or by calling Spelman and Johnson at 413-529-2895. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email info@spelmanjohnson.com.

Visit the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford website at https://www.upb.pitt.edu/ and the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville website at https://www.titusville.pitt.edu/.

 The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and diversity. EEO/AA/M/F/Vets/Disabled.