The Opportunity

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pitt-Bradford) invites applications, nominations, and expressions of interest for the position of Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs.

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 1,300 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. Working closely with the institutional leadership, divisional staff, and colleagues across campus, the successful candidate will lead the institution’s Division of Student Affairs in providing an outstanding student experience.


The Position

Role of the Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford

Reporting to Pitt-Bradford’s President and serving on the President’s Cabinet, the Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs (VPDSA) provides strategic leadership and vision for programs, services, and opportunities that enable students to succeed in a diverse and global society; fosters a vibrant, engaging, and inclusive campus environment; and effectively manages all departments in the division. The Division of Student Affairs comprises the following units: career services, community service, counseling services, disability services, Greek life, new student orientation, residence life and housing, student care and conduct, student engagement, student health services, and student leadership programs. The VPDSA advises the President on matters pertaining to non-academic student life and actively participates in all official Pitt-Bradford functions, including, but not limited to, university commencement, family weekend, and new student orientation programs. The VPDSA effectively manages the division’s budget, including allocation of activities fees; represents the division and the Pitt-Bradford campus in major recruitment events sponsored by admissions and major alumni events for philanthropic and alumni engagement; responds promptly to campus emergencies, providing support to students and staff; co-advises the Student Government Association and the Students of Concern committee; represents the institution on student-related matters to the Bradford community; and collaborates with the President and other senior staff in planning and policy development for the university. The VPDSA manages a dynamic team of 17, including seven direct reports, administers an operating budget of approximately $1.5 million, and oversees $8.5 million in residence life and housing revenues.

History of the Position

When the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford was established in 1963, it had a Dean of Men and a Dean of Women. The Dean of Students Affairs position was created in the early 1970s when Pitt-Bradford was transitioning from a smattering of buildings in downtown Bradford to its campus on 78 acres of land donated by a local corporation.

The Dean of Student Affairs position and the Office of Student Affairs were molded and shaped by Dr. K. James Evans, Pitt-Bradford’s second Dean of Students Affairs, who remained in the role for 42 years.

Dr. Evans assumed the role in 1976 and, under his leadership, built the Office of Student Affairs into its current configuration, adding Counseling Services, Career Services, and Residential Life and Housing and increasing the staffing in Health Services.

In 1994, the position was elevated to Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs.

Since Dr. Evans retired in 2018, two others have served as Vice President and Dean of Students Affairs. Spelman Johnson has now been retained to assist in filling this vital role.

Opportunities and Challenges of the Role

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

It is crucial to identify a competent and dedicated individual who can promote and develop the student affairs staff/team, set departmental priorities, and work proactively in tandem with the President, the divisional leadership team, colleagues across all levels of the university, the student body, the surrounding community, and the other staff in the various departments throughout the division to progressively, innovatively, and comprehensively move the program forward. The following were identified as priorities, opportunities, and challenges that will face the new Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Pitt-Bradford.

  • The ability to grow, develop, and mentor a high-functioning professional staff while building a strong and dedicated team will be critical for success. The staff in each of the units within student affairs at Pitt-Bradford comprises staunchly committed professionals who are wholly devoted to the students at Pitt-Bradford, so the VPDSA 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 VPDSA, and they should be prepared to function with empathy, emotional intelligence, and a mentoring mindset. To do so, the VPDSA should prioritize quickly getting to know the divisional leadership and other departmental staff as individuals, learn their particular needs, develop trust and confidence across the division, ascertain and understand the various responsibilities they perform and roles they play, be available at all times, provide comprehensive professional development opportunities and support for all staff, and oversee the ongoing promotion of a strong, cohesive team. These efforts should encompass a continuing emphasis on increasing staff knowledge and skills in current best practices in student affairs and an evolving higher education landscape, improving morale, promoting confidence, and building trust across the division. Additionally, the VPDSA 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.


  • There is an excellent opportunity for a dynamic professional to put their professional mark on the student affairs program and build it to a higher level based on their experience, their innovative abilities, and national best practices. There is tremendous support and high expectations for the Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs from the administration, with a supportive Interim President who will empower this individual to enact change; consequently, the opportunity exists to bring an exciting new direction across the student affairs environment that can impact students positively for many years to come.


  • Pitt-Bradford is in the early stages of a study on developing and building a multicultural center, which will fall under the purview of the VPDSA. NASPA will be conducting a site visit and campus study in the winter of 2022 to offer recommendations on this future project, so the new VPDSA will have the advantage of utilizing the results of this study, along with their own experiences and knowledge, to further develop this project and see it through to conclusion.


  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and anti-racism are foundational parts of the Pitt-Bradford value system. The new VPDSA should be a proactive leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts in all aspects of the job. While the surrounding Bradford community is less diverse than Pitt-Bradford, there are a significant number of underrepresented populations within the campus population (even more so than the flagship University of Pittsburgh), and student affairs needs to be a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased, supportive environment at all times.


  • Pitt-Bradford is committed to building strong, healthy, and mutually supportive relationships as a foundation of the campus culture, and strong collaboration across the university is an absolute necessity to ensure success. It will be crucial that the new VPDSA quickly reach out across each area 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 student affairs is known for its student-centered approach at all times. Upon arrival, the VPDSA should prioritize a great deal of time conducting a “listening tour” across campus to maintain and strengthen current relationships while also establishing new partnerships at the same time.


  • The Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs position is considered a “working vice presidency,” meaning that the expectation is that the individual in this role will be accessible, approachable, and willing to work with the staff in each student 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 VPDSA, a top-level administrator, is willing to advocate on their behalf no matter the situation or circumstance. The VPDSA will be expected to be very visible and, in essence, serve as the “face” of student affairs. The VPDSA should prioritize getting out of the office and being seen, attending student events, participating in Pitt-Bradford activities, collaborating across academic and student life, and spending quality time within the campus community. To accomplish this, the VPDSA should have excellent communication skills and articulate the position in innovative ways such that the “story” of student affairs is relayed across the university, to the administration, and beyond.


  • Innovation will be a focal point to continually improve the student experience at Pitt-Bradford. There will be a great deal of support for working together to implement new ideas, cutting-edge technology, and national best practices. While funding is not unlimited and not all new proposals can be undertaken, the VPDSA will find that well-researched ideas accompanied by comprehensive data analysis will be considered and given thorough vetting. The VPDSA should seek out successful programs and services at other institutions, determine available professional benchmarking opportunities, and be involved in NASPA, ACPA, or other national or regional associations to remain current on trending issues.


  • This is an exciting time to join Pitt-Bradford, an outstanding opportunity for the successful candidate to put their professional mark on student affairs, and a great occasion to strategically build a contemporary, 21st century, student-focused Division of Student Affairs. There is tremendous support from the Interim President, the Provost, peers/colleagues, and other campus leaders to develop and manage a dynamic, innovative, and forward-thinking student affairs program, so the new VPDSA can look forward to visioning and strategizing with these campus partners to move the division forward over time. As priorities are developed and plans are initiated, the VPDSA should be prepared to identify programs and services that are working effectively, as well as those areas that are not as efficient or successful, and be willing to add, enhance, and sunset programs as necessary. Upon arrival, the VPDSA should expect a swift pace and a vibrant environment in which to work.


  • Stakeholders unanimously agreed that Bradford and the surrounding area are ideal for the outdoor enthusiast, with hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, camping, and skiing opportunities, to name just 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.

Measures of Success

At an appropriate interval after joining Pitt-Bradford, the items listed below will initially define success for the new VPDSA.

  • The staff in the division are working collaboratively as a team, morale and retention within student affairs is high, professional and career development opportunities are abundant, staff members feel respected and supported, and the division has an atmosphere of energy, excitement, fun, and innovation.
  • Based on surveys and other assessment tools, student satisfaction with their experience at Pitt-Bradford is on the rise, and, as a result, retention rates are also rising.
  • Strategic and operational plans are being formulated to map out the short- and long-term success of the Division of Student Affairs.
  • The VPDSA is recognized on campus as the “face” of student affairs, has a reputation for being approachable and available, attends campus events and programs regularly, and spends a great deal of time engaged with the student body.
  • The Division of Student Affairs is recognized as student-centered and student-supportive, and its “story” and value are being effectively marketed at all levels of the institution.
  • Relationships with other upper-level administrators and academics are formed, and the VPDSA has created collaborative partnerships across campus.
  • The VPDSA has conducted a comprehensive listening tour within student affairs and across campus, assessed the state of the departments within the division, and has begun working with these departments to determine actual needs and future changes.



Qualifications and Characteristics

A master’s degree (doctorate preferred) in higher education/student affairs or a related field is required. The successful candidate will have demonstrated progressively responsible leadership, supervisory, or management roles at a residential campus in college or university student affairs. The VPDSA will be expected to be a visionary leader who can address and advocate for student needs across campus and will have a demonstrated commitment to advancing goals that support student success, wellness, and retention, as well as an unwavering commitment to diversity in all its forms, ensuring that all students feel welcome, and their concerns are addressed equally and fairly. The VPDSA should possess current knowledge of best practices, innovative trends, and pertinent issues in student affairs and will be expected to provide unwavering support and professional development opportunities for the staff within the division.

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 the following:

  • progressive background in a broad array of programmatic areas that comprise student affairs, with a demonstrated depth of experience in at least one specific field in the VPDSA’s portfolio (housing and residence life, counseling, career services, etc.);
  • strong leadership and organizational development abilities that recruit, retain, and develop a diverse, cohesive, and inspired staff, while providing professional and personal development opportunities and promoting unity, teamwork, accountability, and retention throughout the organization;
  • demonstrated skills as an advocate and champion for diversity, equity, inclusivity, accessibility, and social justice, as well as a particular understanding of cultural competency issues related to marginalized or underrepresented populations and communities of color;
  • commitment to student development theory and practice, ensuring that it is at the heart of the Division of Student Affairs as professional staff advise, counsel, and work with students in reaching their maximum potential;
  • energy and enthusiasm for the role and the university, passion for the work, a positive attitude, a personable and approachable demeanor, charisma, and the ability to have fun on the job, even in the face of adversity;
  • a mentoring philosophy that entails emotional intelligence, relatability, self-awareness, and empathy toward students and staff;
  • an understanding of the intricacies and implications of shared governance, ensuring that all voices are heard;
  • an excellent and transparent communicator who possesses comprehensive public relations expertise, interpersonal skills, and the ability to effectively reach all levels of the university, including students, faculty, and other senior leaders;
  • demonstrated collaboration and relationship-building skills with students, faculty, internal departments, and external colleagues, with the ability to understand the importance of interconnectedness, empathy, and partnerships;
  • the ability to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn the culture of the university and the division, accept input from others, respect differing opinions, constantly assess, have hard conversations when necessary, and then make well-informed and sometimes difficult decisions that are best for the department and the Pitt-Bradford community;
  • the ability to adapt to significant changes on the spur of the moment without being reactive, to function effectively in crisis conditions, and to remain “cool under pressure” no matter the situation;
  • an understanding of current trends affecting students and the student experience, including, but not limited to, trauma-informed care, mental health concerns, gender identity, suicide ideation, intervention, and sexual assault;
  • the ability to multitask with multiple stakeholders who have diverse needs, adapt rapidly to changing situations, and be solutions-oriented with a “can do” attitude at all times;
  • strategic thinker who can develop both short- and long-term plans around the needs of the Pitt-Bradford community.
  • an understanding of the connection between student affairs and academics, particularly related to housing and residence life, and the ability to bridge the two areas as necessary;
  • an innovator with a futuristic orientation possessing technological and social media savvy, problem-solving skills, and a willingness to try new opportunities, to remain informed on recent trends and best practices, to look beyond the status quo, and to lead significant change processes;
  • politically savvy, with the ability to effectively work within a small but complex university environment that is a regional campus of a flagship institution;
  • character, integrity, ethics, empathy, humility, and a consistent intent to “do the right thing” at all times;
  • a vision for emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, with strategies to engage students and staff after long months of being isolated;
  • creative budgeting skills, with experience developing new sources of revenue;
  • involvement with a regional or national professional student affairs organization, including leadership opportunities, is highly desirable.

Institution & Location

Overview of the Student Affairs Division

The Division of Student Affairs places students at the center of its work, helping students be successful during their time on campus and beyond. Student affairs is committed to providing an extraordinary Pitt-Bradford experience that complements learning in and out of the classroom.

Student affairs prides itself on providing a culture of care on campus, where students will find collaborative, holistic, and inclusive experiences within an array of professional development, wellness, leadership and service, and student engagement activities.

The division is responsible for overseeing many of the critical services that support students in achieving their personal, educational, and professional goals. Regardless of how students interact with student affairs, its primary goal is to assist students in being successful.

For more information on the various departments within the Division of Student Affairs, please click HERE.


Institutional Overview

Pitt-Bradford was established in 1963 because there were no colleges or universities in the north central region of Pennsylvania. In the early years, most of its students came from the local area. Since then, the campus has grown significantly.

The Pitt-Bradford students come from nearly every county in Pennsylvania, more than 20 states – as far away as Alaska and California – and many countries, including China, India, Nepal, Philippines, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, and Pakistan.

The 470-acre campus has developed into a vibrant learning community where students are challenged to discover more than they imagined; nurtured to help them grow into happy, healthy people; and encouraged to go beyond their comfort zones and achieve more than they thought possible.

View the most recent Pitt-Bradford admissions video to see the vitality of the community.




The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is an inclusive, student-focused community with outstanding faculty and staff who equip graduates to be engaged citizens who value and embrace diverse perspectives in a globally connected and sustainable world. Pitt-Bradford creates opportunities for innovation and transformation regionally, nationally, and globally through collaborations with key stakeholders and diverse communities.







Pitt-Bradford will be a campus of choice, equipping students, faculty, and staff for success in their field and as strong community advocates and committed global citizens striving to solve the world’s challenges.


  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Innovation
  • Service
  • Sustainability

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 and help chart its course for the future, assisting the institution in reaching new heights on campus, in the local community, and in the region and beyond.

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


  • Academic and Global Careers – We aspire to prepare students to live and work in a globally interconnected world.
  • Whole-Person Learning – We aspire to be a university that fosters holistic student growth through equitable opportunities that address students’ intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
  • Inclusion, Equity, Justice, and Access – We aspire to be a university community that embodies access, inclusion, equity, and justice.
  • Community Impact and Beyond – We aspire to be a university that respectfully, inclusively, and collaboratively engages with our communities to strengthen our region, nation, and the world.
  • Building Foundational Strength – We aspire to be a university that supports success through a healthy foundation of strong creative entrepreneurial culture, a robust capacity to partner, and an outstanding infrastructure that complements our natural environment and effective operations.

To read more about the Plan for Pitt-Bradford:


Rick Esch, Interim President, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford & Titusville

Interim President Rick Esch is a proud Pitt-Bradford and Pitt graduate who has deep roots both in the university community and the surrounding community.

He began his career at his alma mater in 1994 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.

He was named Interim President on July 1, 2021.

Last year, Interim President Esch 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 and continues to represent Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville on the Chancellor’s Resilience Steering Committee and has worked closely with Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office. He also has collaborated with local, regional, and state agencies, including the McKean County and Crawford County Emergency Management agencies, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Bradford Regional Medical Center.

He also assembled and continues to lead a COVID-19 Mitigation Response Team, which includes 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.

Interim President Esch is very active in the Bradford community. He is a board member and immediate past chairman of Journey Health System, President and a 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 Corps. He also is a member of the McKean County Advisory Board at Northwest Bank, a founding board member and Treasurer of the McKean County Community Foundation, and a board member of the Community Foundation of the Upper Alleghenies.

Interim President Esch previously served as Board Chairman of Journey Health System from 2009-16; was active in the Rotary Club, serving as Past President, past Youth Exchange Officer, and a Paul Harris Fellow; was a member of the Steering Committee for Impact Bradford I and II; and was a member of the Steering Committee for Building a Better Bradford Economic Development Master Plan.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Pitt-Bradford is a safe, friendly institution for students who want to earn a world-renowned degree in a personalized environment.

Pitt-Bradford offers more than 40 majors and more than 50 minors, concentrations, and pre-professional programs in areas ranging from accounting and nursing to broadcast communications and computer information systems and technology. Students can have real-world experiences through internships, undergraduate research, and study-abroad opportunities.

Student Enrollment: 1,250

Total employees: 436

  • Full-time faculty: 76
  • Part-time faculty: 32
  • Full-time staff: 103
  • Part-time staff: 11
  • Other employees: 214

Student/Teacher Ratio: 17:1

Typical Class Size: 19 students

Number of Majors Leading to Baccalaureate Degree

  • 41: B.A., B.S., B.S.N.
  • 19: pre-professional programs

Number of Majors Leading to Associate Degree: 5 (A.S., A.A.)

Number of Graduate Programs: 4

  • Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Social Work are offered on campus by the graduate school at Pitt-Oakland.
  • Master of Education and Master of Science for Clinical Nurse Leader are offered online from Pitt-Oakland.

Bradford, PA

Settled in the 1840s and incorporated in 1879, Bradford was one of the boomtowns of the western Pennsylvania oil rush of the late 19th century. The city’s population is about 8,600; the greater Bradford area is about 18,000. With an approximately five percent underrepresented population, the city is less diverse than other regions in the state.

Described as “a cool town with a warm heart,” Bradford recently completed a $3 million revitalization effort and secured several million dollars more for streetscape improvements to the historic downtown. It has also successfully recruited new industries and services to the community and is interested in partnering with Pitt-Bradford in innovative campus-community development projects. In 2017, Pitt-Bradford opened its Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center on the Bradford town square, providing exciting new academic programming and event space. Horne, a world-renowned opera singer and a native of Bradford, has supported a variety of programs that benefit both the community of Bradford and Pitt-Bradford students.

Major employers in the Bradford region include the American Refining Group, Zippo Manufacturing Company, W.R Case & Sons Cutlery Company, and the Bradford Regional Medical Center. Many outdoor recreational opportunities surround the campus, including the 42-mile Tuna Valley Trail system – part of which runs through campus – boating and kayaking, camping, skiing, and snowmobile and ATV trails. Pitt-Bradford is located within the Pennsylvania Wilds and moments away from the 517,000-acre Allegheny National Forest, the largest national forest east of the Mississippi River, and the 65,000-acre Allegany State Park, which is the largest state park in New York state. 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 low cost of living, a comprehensive high school, and access to quality health care.

Benefits Overview

Benefits Overview

  • Education
  • Health & Wellness
  • Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
  • Leaves of Absence
  • Notices
  • Retirement Savings Plan
  • Time Off

For more information:

Application & Nomination

Application and Nomination

Review of applications will begin January 31, 2022, 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 Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Visit the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford website at

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.

Spelman Johnson has prepared this document based on personal interviews and information copied, compiled, or quoted in part from source documents obtained from our client, and as such, the contents of this document are believed to be reliable. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the original source documents and factual situations govern, and the limited material presented here should be relied upon for informational purposes only.