Founded in 1859, Valparaiso University (“Valpo”) is a selective, independent Lutheran institution in the vibrant city of Valparaiso, Indiana, an hour’s drive from Chicago. Serving 3,800 students, Valpo offers a thorough grounding in the liberal arts as well as professional training and graduate study, helping students find their own paths to lifelong personal, spiritual, and professional growth. Consistently achieving national recognition for best teaching and value and as one of the best universities in the Midwest, Valpo prepares students for lives of leadership and service in a global society. Together, we seek truth, serve generously, and cultivate hope.
Responsibilities of the Position
Reporting to the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) serves as the senior university officer providing leadership and management for co-curricular student life programs, including the Career Center; Dean of Students Office (Residential Life, Student Conduct, Fraternity/Sorority Life, First-Year and Commuter Student Programming, New Student Orientation, Leadership Programs, and Volunteer Programs); Harre Union and Student Activities (Camps, Conferences and Events Management); Office of Multicultural Programs; Student Counseling Services (Counseling Center, Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, Sexual Assault Awareness and Facilitative Education Office); and Student Health Center. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to strategically review the current organizational structure, staff functions, and staffing levels for efficiency and effectiveness. The VPSA will advance and enhance a robust student life experience with programs, services, activities, and facilities to maximize student engagement, participation, community development, and leadership opportunities. Serving as an advocate for students, the VPSA collaborates across departments and divisions to promote a fully-integrated student experience as outlined by the holistic education initiatives contained in the current University Strategic Plan and University Student Learning Outcomes; provides visionary student affairs leadership; promotes, supports, and strengthens the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts; and engages with current students. In addition, the VPSA will contribute to sustaining successful university retention and graduation rates through use of data, research, programs, and special interventions. As a strategic leader, the VPSA serves as an active and valued member of the University’s leadership team, with appointments on both President’s Council and Provost’s Council. The VPSA will manage an operating budget of $5.5 million.
Characteristics of the Successful Candidate
Candidates must possess an earned doctorate with substantive, progressively responsible leadership experience in student affairs. Proven effectiveness at a Dean or Assistant/Associate Vice President level in student affairs or student success areas is desirable. Candidates must also possess deep experience and knowledge of current trends in student affairs management and implementation of best practices. The successful candidate should also have a successful history of supervising and mentoring staff, enhancing student life on a residential campus, and working effectively across the campus community. In addition, the VPSA must have experience providing responsive assistance to students and the university in crisis situations and a proven ability to create and maintain a culture responsive to student concerns. Essential qualities for the VPSA include leadership experience in student development and learning, university-wide strategic planning experience, extensive risk management experience with a working understanding of applicable higher education law, and knowledge of metrics to assess student-learning outcomes. The ideal candidate will possess strong organizational, presentation, and interpersonal communication skills, and must demonstrate effective leadership, writing, and intercultural skills. The successful candidate will demonstrate openness to and support of the Lutheran identity of the university, and be sensitive to issues of spiritual formation among students.
Additionally, various stakeholders identified a number of characteristics as important attributes of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
- A creative, progressive, energized leader with a strong student-oriented focus.
- Strong understanding of contemporary student issues and values, and the ability to develop a natural rapport with students and student leaders.
- While exceptional administrative skills are essential, the successful candidate will also possess an educator’s passion and a determination to contribute to the lifelong success of each student.
- Demonstrated ability to facilitate partnerships among academic programs and other divisions of the university.
- Professional demeanor, good sense of humor, highly organized and disciplined, and the ability to relate easily to a wide range of groups.
- A good listener who can synthesize information, get others on board, and articulately explain divisional goals and initiatives to institutional stakeholders.
- An advocate for positive, progressive change and the skill to manage change through collaborative partnerships.
- Someone who is mission-driven and brings passion, high energy, and enthusiasm for moving the institution forward.
- An understanding of tools and approaches to increase student retention.
- Outstanding ability to motivate and empower staff to get results.
- The desire and ability to lead veteran staff, act as a visionary, and to help staff actualize those visions.
- Someone who is professionally active, and encourages professional development in her/his staff.
- Experience with residential campuses and an understanding of how to develop and support them.
- An ability to engage diverse groups (students, staff, faculty, and alumni) in order to support an enriched, inclusive campus community.
- Demonstrate openness to and support of the Lutheran identity of the university, and sensitive to issues of spiritual formation among students.
History of the Position
After leading the Division of Student Affairs for 24 years at Valparaiso University, the current person in the position will retire, concluding her tenure as Vice President of Student Affairs in June 2019. It is anticipated the new Vice President for Student Affairs will begin July 1, 2019.
Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position
In transitioning to Valparaiso University, the Vice President for Student Affairs will encounter a number of opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by University stakeholders.
- University stakeholders repeatedly noted that Valpo has an institutional culture that emphasizes a strong sense of team and inclusion, mutual support, accessibility, approachability, and a highly collaborative approach to work. There is a strong work ethic and positive energy—in large part due to a shared commitment to student success. The Vice President for Student Affairs will find a peer group and colleagues that are welcoming, promote open communication, emphasize an orientation toward service, and share a desire for a progressive and forward-thinking professional.
- Create a culture throughout the Division where placing students first is an absolute priority.
- As the VPSA sits on both the President’s Council and Provost’s Council, this structure creates a dynamic connection between student affairs and academic affairs for day-to-day operations and long-term planning, while also ensuring the student affairs’ voice at the executive leadership level.
- Facilitate student relations, as appropriate, with senior leadership and involve the President of the University effectively in student life.
- Multiple stakeholders noted that the new VPSA needs to do a thorough review of human and fiscal resources. While the institution is generally in good shape, appropriated funds continue to be tight and some areas within the division are under-resourced, thus underscoring the need to be both judicious as well as innovative with divisional finances.
- Stakeholders emphasized the new VPSA must be viewed as a highly-regarded expert on issues of student development, evolving trends impacting student life, and the programs and services designed to support student success.
- Serve as a champion for the Division, delivering a clear message that reinforces the value of Student Affairs staff and the contributions they make each day to support student success and the mission of the institution.
- Building on previous successes in the division, the successful candidate will also evaluate the current mix of student services, initiatives, and activities, and make recommendations for enrichment or improvement.
- Must actively engage students in a holistic manner, be highly visible throughout the campus, and be regarded as a role model for students, exemplifying what it means to be a fully-engaged member of the campus community.
Measures of Success for the Position
At an appropriate interval after joining Valparaiso University, a number of accomplishments will initially define success for the new Vice President for Student Affairs.
- The Vice President for Student Affairs will be responsible for the development of a more cohesive and coordinated approach to holistic education for Valpo students. While the VPSA cannot force such an outcome, such an outcome cannot be achieved without key leadership from the VPSA. This is a situation in which a leader must lead by convincing stakeholders to voluntarily follow.
- The VPSA will have reviewed organizational strengths and weaknesses and will have outlined the strategic direction and long-term plan for the Division of Student Affairs consistent with the University’s Strategic Plan, mission and goals.
- It will be important for the VPSA to assess the skills and knowledge of the staff, develop a strong sense of teamwork among staff, and build working relationships that emphasize an engaging and collaborative work environment.
- The VPSA will maintain a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on and off campus that is credible, collegial, and highly effective.
- The Division of Student Affairs will be defined as a strong, highly functioning, well-regarded, and resilient team that works with synergy and shared purpose, readily collaborating across departmental and division lines with a demonstrated commitment to student success.
- A welcoming tone has been established by the VPSA that invites collaboration and encourages students and others throughout the campus community to share in the responsibility for creating a vibrant campus community and seamless learning environment.
- Students have responded favorably to the new VPSA and report a high level of satisfaction with their co-curricular experience as reported on institutional survey instruments.
An Overview of the Division
The Division of Student Affairs oversees a number of services that help students learn and develop in everyday life. The Student Affairs staff works closely with student leaders and organizations to encourage co-curricular and extracurricular activities.
In its 150-year history, Valparaiso University has passed through three distinct phases. Founded by Methodists in 1859 as an institution pioneering co-education, the Valparaiso Male and Female College was forced by the reverses of the Civil War to close its doors in 1871.
Revival as “Poor Man’s Harvard”
It was revived in 1873 by an enterprising educator, Henry Baker Brown, as the Northern Indiana Normal School, renamed Valparaiso College in 1900, and re-chartered in 1906 as Valparaiso University. During the next 20 years it established business and law schools and won national recognition as a low-cost, no frills institution of higher learning; many alumni of this period achieved distinction in their fields as governors, legislators, scientists, business leaders, and other professionals.
Lutheran University Association to the Rescue
Despite its decades of success, the University again experienced financial hardship as the United States entered World War I. The Lutheran University Association, a group of clergy and church laity who saw a bright future for the University, purchased it in 1925, ushering in the modern era of Valpo’s history.
Distinguished by its Lutheran heritage of scholarship, freedom, and faith, Valparaiso University continues to fulfill the dreams of these modern founders.
During this period, Valpo has established itself as a premier Midwestern university that combines a thorough grounding in the liberal arts with solid professional training. In the 1940s, the University, spurred by student action, established a school of engineering and adopted a student-administered honor system. The Christ College honors program and a school of nursing further enriched the University’s offerings.
In 1956, Valpo’s chapel-auditorium was destroyed by fire. In 1959, it was replaced by the majestic Chapel of the Resurrection, a fitting symbol of the University’s commitment to its Lutheran ideals—and of the thriving community’s renewed growth.
Valparaiso, Indiana, the home of Valparaiso University, is a city of about 32,000, attractively situated in a rural setting at the edge of the busy industrial district of Northwest Indiana. Its most celebrated event is the annual Popcorn Festival, honoring the heritage of the famous agronomist and businessman Orville Redenbacher, who made Valparaiso his home. A number of community organizations in Valparaiso have mutually beneficial relationships with the University, offering sites for service learning and community service.
Nearby Merrillville, Ind., is the site of the Westfield Southlake Shopping Center, a large complex of retail, dining, and cinema establishments.
Cultural Treasures: The City of Chicago
Just an hour’s drive from campus is the city of Chicago, offering almost limitless resources for culture and entertainment. Chicago is easily accessible by bus or train, and the University often charters buses so that students and faculty can take advantage of the theatres, museums, and other educational benefits of this great city.
Natural Resources: The Indiana Dunes
Fifteen miles to the north, on the shore of Lake Michigan, are the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, important recreational and scientific resources that offer a combined 17,000 acres of varied natural landscape.
Mission and Vision
Valparaiso University, a community of learning dedicated to excellence and grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith, prepares students to lead and serve in both church and society.
Valparaiso University will be renowned worldwide for preparing women and men who are highly sought for their knowledge, character, integrity, and wisdom.
In 2017, Valparaiso University’s Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan, developed through extensive consultation with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. This plan charts the University’s course for the future, ensuring that the University continues to prepare graduates to lead and serve.
Each year the University assesses its progress, and sets new goals for accomplishing its mission in the world. To attend to this mission and to advance our vision, we focus on the following four priorities,
- Model high-quality holistic education
- Be welcoming and inclusive
- Provide outstanding experiences for our students
- Achieve long-term institutional sustainability
Scholarship, freedom, faith, and service: It is this tradition that Valparaiso University builds upon and continues to strengthen in order to ensure the sustainability of a vibrant University community.
Mark Heckler, President
Mark Heckler is in his 11th year of service as the 18th president of Valparaiso University. A dedicated educator with nearly 40 years of experience as a professor and administrator, President Heckler has led comprehensive strategic and master planning efforts resulting in significant campus program expansion and construction.
In addition to new academic programs including physician’s assistant studies, bioengineering, business analytics, cyber security, music therapy, and data science, the University has refocused and revitalized the University’s mission and ministry programs and renovated and expanded the campus’ signature Chapel of the Resurrection. During President Heckler’s tenure, the University also created its renowned Institute for Leadership and Service, placing the work of mission and ministry at its core.
President Heckler has championed the unique capability of Valparaiso University to gather people of different backgrounds and beliefs in dialogue with one another and in the common pursuit of truth. President Heckler participates actively on numerous national and regional higher education boards and commissions, including stints as chair of the board of the Independent Colleges of Indiana, Indiana Campus Compact, the New American Colleges and Universities, and One Region of Northwest Indiana. In addition to these boards, President Heckler is also currently a member of the board of the national Council of Independent Colleges, the NCAA Division I Missouri Valley Athletic Conference, the Pioneer Football League, and the national Private College 529 Plan.
President Heckler earned his PhD in educational leadership and innovation from the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado. He completed his MFA with an emphasis in directing at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and earned his BA in communications summa cum laude at Elizabethtown College (PA). President Heckler and his wife, Veronica, grew up together in Windber, Pennsylvania. The Hecklers are parents of four children and the grandparents of nine grandchildren.
Mark L. Biermann, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Mark L. Biermann began his tenure as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Valparaiso University July 1, 2014. As the University’s chief academic officer, he provides leadership for Valpo’s academic programs as well as student affairs, campus ministries, international programs, and diversity initiatives.
Provost Biermann’s primary responsibility is to uphold the high quality of Valpo’s academics and to provide vision and guidance in all aspects of educational programs, research endeavors, and community and international outreach and service programs. He led the successful reaffirmation of accreditation process with the Higher Learning Commission that concluded in 2018.
A dedicated educator with more than 25 years of experience in higher education, Provost Biermann has an extensive background in teaching, research, and public engagement. He also loves to learn, especially at the confluence of the liberal arts and professional and pre-professional studies.
previously, Provost Biermann was the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, serving on the president’s cabinet as the chief academic officer. He was also dean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, where he was responsible for realizing the vision of the newly developed school and working closely with administrators, faculty, and staff to define budgets, set policies, and clarify roles in order to position the school for a vibrant and accomplished future.
Provost Biermann’s research has appeared in publications such as the Journal of Applied Physics, the American Institute of Physics’ Applied Physics Letters, and the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology. In addition, he has contributed chapters regarding the broadening of participation in undergraduate research and quantum-well laser array packaging. More recently, he contributed a chapter exploring the balancing of teaching, research, service, and personal time in one’s life for a book focused on STEM undergraduate research initiatives. Provost Biermann holds a PhD, as well as an MS and BS, in Optics from the University of Rochester.
The Student Body and Faculty
588 post-baccalaureate graduate students
Undergraduate Student Demographics:
- From most U.S. states and 38 countries
- 29 percent multicultural students
- 20 percent Lutheran
- 29 percent Roman Catholic
- 36 percent other Christian faiths
- 15 percent other faiths
310 full-time faculty
88 percent hold PhD or terminal degree in their field
11:1 student-faculty ratio
20 average class size
100 percent of courses are taught by professors
The Academic Program
Valparaiso University offers more than 70 undergraduate degree programs and interdisciplinary options throughout our five undergraduate colleges as well as programs through our Graduate School and Law School. Students take classes in the humanities, arts, sciences, and social sciences along with courses required for the major. Each step of the way, professors and academic advisors guide our students as they discover how to turn their passion into a rewarding career.
College of Arts & Sciences
Home to 23 academic departments, the College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most diverse of the colleges. It provides the Valpo Core, an interdisciplinary experience that builds the foundation for a student’s general education for all programs, and it is where 48 percent of Valpo students are enrolled.
College of Business
Programs in the College of Business are marked by a hands-on approach, evident in everything from project-oriented assignments to their required internship program. An innovative Assessment Center offers an exceptional opportunity to participate in simulated business situations with feedback from seasoned professionals.
College of Engineering
The College of Engineering provides a state-of-the art engineering education in a liberal-arts setting. Unique features include small classes, close faculty-student collaboration, undergraduate research, international study, and hands-on service projects.
College of Nursing and Health Professions
The College of Nursing and Health Professions graduates nurses with strong clinical and critical thinking skills. A cutting-edge curriculum and mentoring from the College’s distinguished professors prepare their students for leadership in health care fields.
Christ College – The Honors College
Modeled after universities in England and unlike any in the United States, Christ College inspires students to look beyond the obvious to discover new ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Christ College students benefit from extensive undergraduate research opportunities and mentoring relationships with professors.
Valpo offers a variety of postgraduate options through the Graduate School and Continuing Education, with flexible schedules and affordable tuition.
- Medical Insurance
- Dental Benefits
- Vision Plan
- Life Insurance Plans
- Long Term Disability Insurance
- Short Term Disability
- Retirement Plans
- Tuition Remission and Exchange
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 Quincy Martin III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.
Visit the Valparaiso University website at https://www.valpo.edu/
Valparaiso University does not unlawfully discriminate and aims to employ persons of various backgrounds and experiences to help constitute a diverse community.