The Opportunity

Susquehanna University seeks a strategic, collaborative, and entrepreneurial leader to serve as its next vice president for student life and dean of students (VPSL/DOS). This is an exceptional opportunity for a high-performing and student-centered leader to join a university community fully committed to holistically reimaging the student experience through integrated, personalized, and efficient student experiences. In doing so, the next VPSL/DOS will strengthen Susquehanna’s student life division and enhance the visibility and capabilities of a premier institution.

Susquehanna University is a national liberal arts college committed to excellence in educating students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world. Susquehanna University ranks among the Top 10% of universities in the U.S. for career-long earnings, according to a recent report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Susquehanna ranks at No. 35 for social mobility among 218 liberal arts universities nationwide, according to the most recent Washington Monthly college guide.

The University offers over 100 majors and minors in arts, business, communication, education, humanities, pre-engineering, and sciences. Its more than 2,300 undergraduates come from 35 states and 22 countries, and all students study away through Susquehanna’s unique Global Opportunities program. Susquehanna’s 325-acre campus, noted for its beauty, is located in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, 50 miles north of Harrisburg in the scenic Susquehanna River Valley, about a three-hour drive from Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The Position

Role of the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students for Susquehanna University

Reporting to the president and serving as a member of the senior leadership team, the vice president for student life and dean of students (VPSL/DOS) provides vision and leadership for the student life division and programs that aim to create transformative learning experiences that inspire students to become their best selves. As the senior advocate for students the VPSL/DOS is expected to create and maintain a student-centered outcomes-oriented environment in Student Life and across campus while ensuring an equitable and inclusive community among all students and staff. The VPSL/DOS is a critical champion for partnership and collaboration across the University. As a visible and accessible advocate for the student experience, the next VPSL/DOS will bring strong skills in data-driven decision-making and a culture of continual improvement.

The VPSL/DOS will provide leadership and mentorship for athletics and recreation (NCAA Division III); new student and parent/family orientation; first-year and sophomore experience; student life programming/communication including SGA, Greek life, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreation, and residence life; university student conduct; Title IX; grant-funded violence intervention and prevention center; counseling center; health center; care team; and provide dotted-line supervision of campus safety.

The VPSL/DOS will demonstrate a commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; manage personnel and budgets effectively; have the ability to mentor and inspire the professional development of staff; and provide leadership and guidance in response to crises. The vice president will have oversight of more than 100 full-time professional staff and manage an annual budget of approximately $2.2 million.

Additional specific responsibilities of the vice president for student life and dean of students include:

  • create a clear vision for the Student Life division and ensure that the community knows and understands the vision and how it will be achieved;
  • lead and inspire the Student Life staff which includes direct and indirect oversight and management of, and ultimate responsibility for, the staff and their individual units;
  • actively participate as a member of the President’s Senior Leadership Team and keep senior leadership informed of issues related to the student experience; collaborate effectively with senior leadership to achieve institutional goals;
  • intentionally engage with students and maintain a visible presence on campus; expect the same of staff and support them in their efforts to do so;
  • align co-curricular learning, leadership, engagement, and retention initiatives and foster a collaborative environment related to these efforts;
  • demonstrate an understanding and commitment to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • understand and uphold the policies and values of NCAA Division III athletics, as well as those of the Landmark and Centennial conferences;
  • provide leadership and guidance in response to crises, and support students, families, and staff in these situations;
  • manage personnel and budgets effectively and use sound reasoning to determine priorities;
  • inspire and energize staff to build upon current programs and processes with a keen eye toward meeting the reasonable expectations of other members of the community;
  • strengthen the infrastructure to provide optimum support for student success;
  • cultivate collaborative relationships with faculty and staff in partnership for student success inside and outside the classroom;
  • be a lead in parent/family relations in collaboration with the Advancement Division and the Office of University Marketing and Communications.
  • advocate for student-centered approaches in institutional policy and strategic planning;
  • promote a culture of continual improvement using assessment and other relevant data to guide the work of the division; and
  • serve on and collaborate with the Learning Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Priorities, Opportunities, and Challenges of the Role

Over the past few years, the Susquehanna community has actively engaged in reflection and visioning with an eye towards reaching strategic planning goals. In 2020, the CenSUs: Everyone Counts Taskforce was formed to actively create a supportive, anti-racist community in which all members are safe, valued, and provided with opportunities to thrive and flourish. That work, along with the disruption of the pandemic, forced Susquehanna to review and revise many campus practices. It has affirmed the necessity of institutional transformation to meet the needs of today’s students. SU 2.0 challenges Susquehanna to provide a more integrated, personalized, and efficient student experience. As the senior student life advocate and leader of the division of student life, SU 2.0 provides the next VPSL/DOS an opportunity to listen openly, think creatively, and work cohesively with campus partners to provide the student-centered experience built on institutional strengths that allows for a barrier-free navigation of the college experience.

In transitioning to Susquehanna, the vice president for student life and dean of students will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges as shared by university stakeholders in meetings with Spelman Johnson.

  • It will be important for the next VPSL/DOS to bring innovative thinking and creative solutions at a challenging time for private higher education. The next VPSL/DOS will continue to evaluate the current mix of student services, initiatives, and activities, and make recommendations for enrichment or improvement.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will actively engage students in a holistic manner, be highly visible throughout the campus, and be regarded as a role model and trusted advocate for students, exemplifying what it means to be fully engaged with a passionate, engaged student population.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will initiate and support institutional goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion by actively leading divisional conversations for staff and students, promoting training and staff development, and cultivating an equity-minded campus culture.
  • Over the last number of years, the division of student life has experienced staff turnover and some restructure of the departmental portfolio. In this exciting time of renewal, the next VPSL/DOS will have an opportunity to rebuild a staff and create a team that is nimble and responsive to the SU 2.0 reimagined student experience.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will develop a strong sense of team among staff and build working relationships that emphasize collaboration, consistency, and equity. Staff should feel encouraged, challenged, supported, and confident about how they contribute to the divisional and institutional vision.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will create a strong and vibrant data-driven, outcomes focused, decision-making culture within the division. The division of Student Life should be able to speak eloquently and confidently about contributions made to, and the assessment of, student persistence/retention goals.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will exhibit strong communication skills through personal interactions, public presentations, and curation of a thoughtful online presence.
  • As a selective, residential, national liberal arts college, it is imperative that the residential experience is operationally sound, accessible, and responsive to the needs of students. The next VPSL/DOS will be expected to bring a sense of trust and transparency to Residence Life and reinforce an interconnectedness that positions the department as a “true partner” to curricular experiences.
  • SU 2.0 asks the campus to examine the processes, communication, and ultimate accessibility of campus services. The next VPSL/DOS will bring strong operational orientation and leadership skills.
  • Student Life should be considered a valued and integral partner to the academic enterprise. The next VPSL/DOS will be expected to bring a highly relational spirit to cross-campus collaborations and role-model those expectations to the division.
  • The next VPSL/DOS will be expected to center students and their experience and utilize best practices in the pursuit of community well-being.

Measures of Success

At an appropriate interval after joining Susquehanna University, a number of accomplishments will initially define success for the new vice president for student life and dean of students.

  • The VPSL/DOS will engage ongoing dialogue and assessment of the SU 2.0 working groups, will have reviewed organizational strengths and weaknesses, and will have outlined the strategic direction and long-term plan for the division of student life consistent with the University’s mission and goals.
  • The division will embrace a continuous improvement and data-informed culture.
  • Students will see the VPSL/DOS as visible, engaging, and accessible.
  • Communication and collaboration are enhanced; and innovation is encouraged.
  • It will be important for the VPSL/DOS 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 VPSL/DOS will maintain a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on and off campus that is credible, collegial, and highly effective.
  • The student life division will be defined as a strong, trusted, 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.

Qualifications and Characteristics

A master’s degree and a minimum of 10 years of progressive senior level leadership in higher education administration and a commitment to residential liberal arts education is required. A doctoral or terminal degree is preferred. The ideal candidate will possess an excellent track record of leadership and accountability in student affairs work, including in-depth familiarity in one or more areas within the student life portfolio and significant supervisory experience. In addition, candidates should have experience with change management; collaborative management approach; superior communication and relationship-building skills; strong team development, strategic planning, and fiscal competencies; excellent problem-solving abilities; and demonstrated respect for diversity of identities and experiences, an orientation toward equity and inclusion, and cultural competency in all aspects of campus life. The successful candidate will also possess experience and engagement with intercollegiate athletics and experience in data-driven assessment and outcomes measurements, with demonstrated knowledge of student learning outcomes in student affairs programs.

Additionally, stakeholders identified a number of characteristics as important attributes of the vice president for student life and dean of students:

  • a creative, progressive, energized leader with a strong student-oriented focus;
  • demonstrated affinity and advocacy for the residential liberal arts university experience;
  • proven ability to recruit, retain, and motivate high-performing team members with a demonstrated commitment to support the professional development of staff members, set clear performance expectations, provide constructive feedback, and make timely, transparent decisions;
  • experience and engagement with intercollegiate athletics, with Division III level experience strongly preferred;
  • outstanding interpersonal, communication, and conflict resolution skills, with the ability to successfully navigate a variety of constituent relationships;
  • ensure the offices in the portfolio of this position provides a vibrant living-learning community program for students in residence, faculty, and the campus as a whole;
  • evidence of success in facilitating efforts promoting student success and retention;
  • ability to build and maintain productive relationships with the president’s cabinetsenior academic leaders, faculty, students, parents/families, alumni, board of trustees, and other constituents important to the success of the University;
  • value and cultivate a commitment to shared governance, transparency, and inclusive decision making;
  • strong understanding of contemporary student issues and values, and the ability to develop a natural rapport with students and student leaders;
  • demonstrated ability to facilitate partnerships among academic programs and other divisions of the University;
  • strong problem-solving skills with an inclusive and collaborative approach to managing change;
  • ability to remain calm in crisis situations, to act decisively, and to apply sound judgment in determining appropriate action regarding interventions, assistance, and the referral of students to other university staff members;
  • professional demeanor, empathy, compassion, good sense of humor, highly organized, responsive, and disciplined, and the ability to relate easily to a wide range of groups;
  • good listener who can synthesize information, get others on board, and articulately explain divisional goals and initiatives to individuals outside of the division and institution; and
  • leadership, flexibility, efficiency, attention to detail, and the ability to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines for a wide variety of assignments.

Overview of the Division of Student Life

Vision

“Creating transformative learning experiences that inspire students to become their best selves.”

Mission

“The Division of Student Life is dedicated to developing compassionate, confident, and respectful community members. Through carefully planned programs, services, and individual interactions, the Division of Student Life prepares students for success in a diverse, global society.

“Integrating academic learning and student development, the Division of Student Life challenges students to acquire an awareness of creative and cultural forces that shape the world, an integrated set of intellectual skills, a mature understanding of self, and an understanding of personal ethical responsibility.”

“Walking beside each student, the Division of Student Life guides and supports students throughout challenging situations, assisting students in developing resilience and independent problem-solving skills. Working carefully with individuals and student groups, the division is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community as well as a safe and healthy campus culture.”

Values

“Students and their development are the purpose, incentive, and motivation for our work. As we fulfill our individual responsibilities, we collectively embrace our aspirational core values:

  • purposeful communication, regularly practicing purposeful face-to-face connections with others;
  • collaboration, strengthening our efforts by crossing boundaries and creating partnerships;
  • creativity, valuing creativity in leadership and problem solving;
  • work-life integration, consistently practicing self-care and demonstrating the value of wellness;
  • diversity and inclusion, knowing that a diverse living-and-learning community improves the educational experience for all and actively seeking colleagues from underrepresented populations;
  • student development and learning, serving as advocates for students while empowering them to assume responsibility for their experiences.”

Organizational Chart for the Division of Student Life

Institution & Location

Institutional Overview

The University opened on Sept. 1, 1858, as The Missionary Institute of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, officially becoming Susquehanna University in 1895.

During the 20th century, Susquehanna transformed into a four-year university offering a range of bachelor’s degrees for students. In 1903, the school adopted the colors orange and maroon. Throughout the years, the University has developed a variety of traditions.

Selinsgrove, PA

Founded in 1787 by Captain Anthony Selin, who fought with Washington in the Revolutionary War, Selinsgrove features a delightful blend of small-town friendliness and scenic countryside.

Quaint shops, restaurants, and businesses with an abundance of colonial and early American architecture set this town apart. Stroll the brick-paved sidewalks and tree-lined downtown where an array of specialty shops, restaurants, and professionals offer quality goods and services with personalized attention. Shopping, or simply browsing, you’ll find an unhurried, relaxed pace.

Selinsgrove is also home to Susquehanna University, which is consistently recognized as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the Northeast by a number of college guidebooks.

Its quiet streets, historic homes, and easy access to shopping centers and schools make Selinsgrove an ideal place for families. Situated on the shores of the Susquehanna River, there are many opportunities for boating and swimming in the summer, and ice fishing and skating in the winter.

Regardless of the season, Selinsgrove offers year-round enjoyment and security as an ideal place to work, live, and play.

Mission and Learning Goals

Mission

Susquehanna University educates students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world.

Guiding Values

Susquehanna University is:

  • a selective, residential, national liberal arts college focused on an undergraduate education integrating the liberal arts and preparation for professions and careers;
  • a learning community that values diversity; intellectual collaboration among faculty and students; scholarship, research, and creative activity; health in mind, body, and spirit; and learning in and out of the classroom;
  • an enduring community that inspires and empowers alumni to be perpetual stewards of their alma mater and to strengthen the core educational experience of students;
  • a working community that recognizes its faculty and staff as its greatest resource, values cooperation, and expects ethical behavior and mutual respect from all its members;
  • a responsible community committed to financial and environmental sustainability and a pragmatic and ambitious approach to its work;
  • a valuable resource serving the local community and region, while engaging in the larger world through strong national and international connections;
  • a physically attractive setting for reflection and learning; and
  • a community that expresses its Lutheran heritage through the free and open exploration of ideas, commitment to service, development of individual talents, and the welcoming of individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Learning Goals

Susquehanna University’s learning goals articulate a vision of students as competent, liberally educated people who develop the skills they need to succeed in the job market post-graduation and to pursue advanced degrees.

Susquehanna University’s students engage in an ongoing process of cross- and multi-disciplinary education to develop depth of knowledge; examine ideas within the context of their academic major and from the perspectives of other disciplines; and synthesize all facets of their educational experience to frame a way of thinking about their major area(s) of study, their potential career path, and their lives as a means to achieve, lead, and serve in their communities and around the world.

Susquehanna University wants graduates to possess:

  • an awareness of creative, natural, societal, and cultural forces that shape the world;
  • an integrated set of intellectual skills;
  • a mature understanding of self-mind, body, and spirit; and
  • an understanding of personal ethical responsibility

Strategic Plan

Susquehanna University educates students for productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world.

Academic excellence is the lifeblood of Susquehanna University and the driving force that leads to life-changing experiences for students. Students benefit from a global education, student-faculty research, internships and practicums, creative work, service learning, and volunteer work. A Susquehanna education comprises the experiences students need to determine the lives they wish to lead, and the knowledge, skills, values, and networks to achieve their full potential.

Faculty members are dedicated scholars and teachers who make close connections with students as they inspire them intellectually and creatively, expanding their knowledge, skills, and understanding of their place in the world. Staff members serve as caring mentors whose work bolsters the academic mission. These collective experiences help students to thrive personally and professionally.

This strategic plan reaffirms the core academic principles, ethics, commitment to each other, and the importance of engaging all voices in pursuit of new, and equitable ways to creatively solve the challenges of our world.

Leadership

Dr. Jonathan D. Green, President and Chief Executive Officer

Jonathan D. Green became president of Susquehanna University in 2017. Since arriving at SU, he has worked to strengthen the University’s regional business and cultural impact through collaborations with the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce and the launch of the University’s Downtown Center. Susquehanna has taken a leadership role in regional and national diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in partnership with the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way and as a founding member of the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance.

Prior to being named President at Susquehanna, Green served as provost and dean of the faculty at Illinois Wesleyan University prior to that he served as Dean of the College and VPAA at Sweet Briar College. At Sweet Briar, he received the Excellence in Teaching award, and at Illinois Wesleyan he was named the first recipient of the Outstanding Advisor Award.

Green is an award-winning composer of over 160 musical works and the author of eight music reference books.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Learning Goals

“Our learning goals articulate a vision of our students as competent, liberally-educated people who develop the skills they need to succeed in the job market post-graduation and to pursue advanced degrees.”

“We want our graduates to possess: an awareness of creative, natural, societal, and cultural forces that shape the world; an integrated set of intellectual skills; a mature understanding of self-mind, body, and spirit; and an understanding of personal ethical responsibility.”

Majors and Degrees

Students can choose from more than 100 hundred majors and minors, as well as pre-professional programs and an interdisciplinary honors program. The School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business offer bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees.

The University uses a semester system, has an average student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, with an average class size of 19, and 151 full-time faculty. Ninety-six percent of faculty have a terminal degree.

Students can choose from majors, minors, and interdisciplinary programs in one of two schools—the School of Arts and Sciences and the Sigmund Weis School of Business.

School of Arts and Sciences

With a major or minor in the School of Arts and Sciences, students learn to communicate, think critically, and gain real-world skills outside the classroom to apply to a broad range of careers. Students can reach beyond their comfort zone with dozens of majors and minors, spanning traditional liberal arts and professional programs.

Sigmund Weis School of Business

The Sigmund Weis School of Business is a place where students are mentored and leaders are cultivated. Here, collaboration, achievement, and hard work are rewarded. Success comes from a dynamic business curriculum that is built on a solid liberal arts foundation.

The program is not easy, but it is highly valued. Students learn to think clearly and communicate effectively, to embrace other cultures through study abroad experiences, and to adapt to a rapidly changing global economy.

Susquehanna has faculty members representing 100+ majors and minors. Click the department or program to see a list of faculty members in that area.

Central Curriculum

The innovative Central Curriculum is at the heart of a Susquehanna education.

Far more than general education requirements, the courses in the Central Curriculum invite students to open their minds and think differently about themselves and the world around them.

This core curriculum, including the award-winning GO program, will help students be more aware of the creative, natural, societal, and cultural forces that shape the world around them. And arm them with critical skills that will make them a valuable employee in today’s marketplace.

Courses

Courses in the Central Curriculum make up 40 percent of the graduation requirements, and they easily fit with all of the 100+ majors and minors.

The Central Curriculum contains five complementary sections.

  • Richness of Thought
  • Natural World
  • Human Interactions
  • Intellectual Skills
  • Connections

The range of courses is quite diverse, so students have plenty of options to expand their knowledge and gain new perspectives.

Students may pursue an interest or enhance their major studies with an interdisciplinary minor. These minors combine courses from multiple departments to help students gain a better understanding of important topics in today’s world.

It’s easy to fit these flexible minors in with other studies and our Central Curriculum requirements:

  • Actuarial Science
  • Africana Studies
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Arts Administration
  • Asian Studies
  • Data Science/Analytics
  • Diversity Studies
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Film Studies
  • Health Care Studies
  • International Studies
  • Jewish and Israel Studies
  • Leadership
  • Legal Studies
  • Military Science
  • Museum Studies
  • Public Policy
  • Strategic Studies
  • Women’s Studies

Student Body

Susquehanna has 2,300 students and 160 student organizations. Dedicated student volunteers, including the Greek organizations, contribute more than 32,000 service hours to the community each year.

Fall 2020 Enrollment
Total enrollment 2,325
·         Women 56%
·         Men 40%
Out-of-state enrollment 36.37%
States represented 29
Countries represented 25
·         International 2.00%
·         Black/Non-Hispanic 5.90%
·         Hispanic 7.30%
·         Native American 0.10%
·         Asian or Pacific Islander 1.80%
·         White 76.60%
·         Other 6.40%
Academics
Majors 50
Academic calendar Semester
Student/faculty ratio 13 to 1
Average class size 19
Full-time faculty 138
Full-time faculty with terminal degree 93%
Students studying away fall 2019 117

Benefits Overview

  • Health Insurance Plans
  • Dental Insurance Plan
  • Vision Plan
  • Flexible Spending Plan
  • Life Insurance
  • Long-term Disability Plan
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Tuition/Education Benefits
  • Retirement Plan
  • Paid holidays, vacation, personal, sick and winter break
  • Wellness program

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. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Anne-Marie Kenney at amk@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Susquehanna University website at https://www.susqu.edu/

As a living, learning and working community, Susquehanna University affirms its commitment to being an engaged, culturally inclusive campus. As we seek to embody the rich diversity of the human community, we commit ourselves to the full participation of persons who represent the breadth of human difference. The university encourages candidates from historically underrepresented groups to apply. Susquehanna University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.