The Position


As the senior student affairs officer at St. Lawrence University, the vice president for student life (VPSL) plays a central role in defining a culture and sense of community on campus that promotes students’ intellectual growth, identity exploration, reflective leadership, and responsible citizenship. Reporting to President Kathryn Morris, the vice president is responsible for the overall vision and effectiveness of a comprehensive range of programs, policies, procedures, and services that foster student success and a commitment to inclusiveness and support for the university’s diverse student body.

The vice president provides leadership for a staff of 27 across the following departments: Diana B. Torrey Health and Counseling Center; diversity and inclusion (shared report); residence life; campus life; wellness and student activities; Title IX coordination; student judicial affairs; international student services; and the university chaplain’s office. The annual budget for the division of student life is $4,570,000.

There are five direct reports to the vice president:

  • Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Associate Dean of Community Standards
  • Associate Dean of Campus Activities and Residential Engagement
  • Director of Health and Counseling Services
  • Chaplain

The vice president is a member of the president’s senior staff and is involved in formulating

university policy. Additionally, the VPSL serves as staff support to the trustee committee on Laurentian Mission, working closely with the trustee chair and vice-chair to facilitate appropriate trustee oversight and engagement with the student life program.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Enact strategic priorities across a division that is responsible for providing a broad range of programs and services, including managing the needs of a diverse student body.
  • Enhance the holistic education offered to St. Lawrence students through effective living/learning, co-curricular, and out-of-classroom social and cultural experiences.
  • Support and enhance the university’s significant investments in wellness, including the creation of the office of wellness education and student engagement and work as a Jed Foundation campus partner.
  • Demonstrate commitment through both word and deed to wellness promotion, student mental health, and effective prevention and response. Support the unique needs of students whose college experiences have been shaped by the pandemic.
  • Encourage and facilitate community and global engagement, service learning, and service to the university.
  • Lead the division in the development of practices and policies that address the changing needs of students.
  • Support Title IX and non-discrimination efforts through effective work with the Title IX coordinator, associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and other relevant partners.
  • Oversee first-generation efforts on campus, including the requirements necessary for designation as a First Gen Forward institution.
  • Offer strategies to create more systematic ways to assess, improve, and review programming.
  • Take the lead role in any crisis management scenario involving students.
  • Provide leadership and mentoring to direct reports and others in the student life division.
  • Provide leadership regarding the student life budget, especially regarding institutional efforts to contain costs and balance budgets.
  • Be an active, engaged, and effective partner for senior staff colleagues. Work toward shared university goals.
  • Assess strengths and areas for improvement within the student life division, with recommendations for professional development as needed.
  • Foster well-being, engagement, leadership development, and retention among direct reports and others in the student life division.
  • Partner with athletic leadership to continue supporting student-athletes’ health and well-being.
  • Demonstrate a deep commitment to collaboration between student life and academic affairs and develop best practices for future collaborations.
  • Serve as one of the administrative liaisons to the institutional mission committee of the board of trustees.


The next VPSL must be both a strategic thinker and a consistent, hands-on, collaborative administrator. As a key member of the senior management team, the vice president must have the capacity and vision to contribute to decisions affecting the university as a whole.

The vice president will possess a track record of successful and progressively responsible leadership in student affairs/life. Candidates should have a strong belief in St. Lawrence’s educational values and goals. A master’s degree is required. A doctorate is preferred.

The ideal candidate will possess the following characteristics:

  • A strong professional background in student affairs with knowledge of student development, best practices, policies, and legal issues.
  • The ability to formulate, articulate, and implement a strategic direction for student affairs at St. Lawrence.
  • Senior-level management experience in higher education, including responsibility for personnel and budgets.
  • The ability to inspire trust, create relationships across all sectors of the institution, cultivate a sense of community and shared vision, and lead multi-unit work groups to address complex campus issues.
  • A working knowledge of the various areas under the purview of the vice president.
  • A commitment to the mission and values of the university, including sustainability, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Past experience and/or knowledge of a small, residential liberal arts and sciences university.
  • Proven crisis management capabilities.
  • A high degree of accessibility and openness to students and commitment to participating fully in the life of the campus community.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills.
  • A principled but flexible approach to developing and implementing policies and procedures.

In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following capabilities and attributes of a successful candidate:

  • Exhibit exceptional personal and professional integrity and a commitment to the highest ethical standards for programs and personnel.
  • Able to analyze complex problems, interpret operational needs, and develop integrated, creative solutions.
  • Demonstrate ability to lead others through change and develop teams with positive, action-oriented, and possibility-focused mindsets.
  • Develop effective partnerships and collaborations with others to design learning experiences and support structures.
  • Proven ability to recruit, retain, and motivate high-performing team members with a demonstrated commitment to supporting the professional development of staff members, setting clear performance expectations, providing constructive feedback, and making timely, transparent decisions.
  • Value and cultivate a commitment to shared governance, transparency, and inclusive decision-making.
  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of contemporary student issues and values and the ability to develop a natural rapport with students and student leaders.
  • Possess the ability to build a community that facilitates student learning in many formal and informal contexts, and serve as a role model for civility, flexibility, and ethical decision-making.


The vice president must provide visible, strategic direction for the division of student life and the university. St. Lawrence needs strong, collaborative, and creative leadership in student life. The university will look to the next VPSL to articulate a clear vision and direction for the work of the division. The next vice president will be expected to bring knowledge and new ideas to St. Lawrence and will have the opportunity to work in partnership with the president, board of trustees, and other senior leaders of the university. The VPSL will also be expected to engage creatively with a broad range of stakeholders, build collaborative relationships within and beyond the division, cultivate support for new initiatives, and advocate persuasively for them in budget-setting contexts.

The VPSL will provide leadership within the context of St. Lawrence’s distinctive student and academic culture. St. Lawrence provides its students with an intensive academic and cocurricular experience. St. Lawrence students take full advantage of all the university has to offer and bring with them a spirit of achievement as well as a desire to make the world a better place.

Students at St. Lawrence describe a strong sense of identity based on a number of characteristics: areas of study, athletic affiliation, student activities in which they engage, and demographic background; there are active LGBTQ+ and international communities as well. The vice president will be expected to help build an inclusive sense of community that transcends some of these more immediate affiliations—linking students, faculty, and staff together—and creating opportunities for students to learn from unexpected relationships and connections. The university aspires to offer all its students a stimulating, supportive environment and expects the VPSL to lead improvements in this regard.

The vice president is expected to bring a comprehensive and integrated understanding of student health and well-being, and provide leadership to strengthen institutional support and campus-wide capacity to support holistic student development. The university is working through the Jed Foundation (JED) and its Campus Fundamentals program to assess the community’s needs, develop a customized strategic plan to build on existing strengths, and implement tools, strategies, and techniques that lead to measurable improvements in student mental health and a more connected community.

In transitioning to St. Lawrence, the VPSL will encounter the following additional opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:

  • Work toward more transparency regarding behavioral expectations and equitable applications of restorative justice or sanctions, as appropriate.
  • Prioritize assessment efforts within the division, benchmarking against best practices, and analyzing collected data to make informed and strategic decisions.
  • Support students from traditionally under-represented backgrounds
  • Bring innovative thinking and creative solutions at a challenging time for private higher education. The next vice president will continue to evaluate the current offerings of student services, initiatives, and activities and make recommendations for enrichment or improvement.
  • Build trust and deeply collegial relationships with the president and members of her senior leadership team by exemplifying high levels of integrity and emotional intelligence.
  • Work with relevant senior staff members to enact a transparent and equitable process to address the emergent financial needs of students.


The items listed below will define the vice president’s success throughout the first year of employment:

  • The VPSL 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.
  • It will be important for the VPSL 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 will maintain a proactive, highly visible, well-respected, and established leadership presence on and off campus that is engaging, collegial, and highly effective.
  • The student life division 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.

Institution & Location


Located in Canton, N.Y., St. Lawrence University is a coeducational, private, independent liberal arts institution of about 2,150 students. The student body comes from 39 states and territories as well as 78 countries, with international students and U.S. ethnic/racial minorities representing approximately 23% of the student population. Nineteen percent are first-generation college students. The student experience is defined by a highly active and engaged residential student body. Ninety-eight percent of St. Lawrence students reside on campus, and 82% of students participate in community service and 170 distinct student organizations. The University offers 35 intercollegiate athletic teams for men and women with 37% of all undergraduate students involved, and its philosophy includes a shared understanding that sports support the institution’s learning goals for its students.

Mission and History

Diversity Statement

St. Lawrence University has a goal to build a community that celebrates and respects diversity in all forms. St. Lawrence engages a multitude of voices and intentionally develops spaces where everyone can teach and learn from one another in order to create a culture where all ideas are welcomed, valued, considered, and respected.

Institutional Leadership

Kathryn A. Morris, President

On July 1, 2021, Kathryn A. Morris became the 19th president of St. Lawrence University. President Morris has dedicated her life to higher education and chose to become a professor because she understood the impact of teaching and mentoring on students’ lives. She arrived at St. Lawrence following a distinguished career at Butler University, where she had most recently served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for nine years.

In her first year at St. Lawrence, President Morris developed a bold and dynamic strategic framework to guide the institution into the future. The plan supports the institutional mission through a series of initiatives to foster a strong institutional foundation as well as three strategic priorities for focused attention: Laurentian impact, community well-being, and launching an environmental center. The framework has resonated with donors, resulting in significant support in the past year.

President Morris earned both her master‘s and PhD degrees in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gettysburg College. She has served as a member of the board of trustees at her undergraduate alma mater since 2015.

Senior Staff


The Student Body (Fall 2022 data)

Total enrollment: 2,175

Graduate: 30

Undergraduate: 2,145

Asian: 2%

Black: 2.6%

Hispanic/Latino: 6.1%

Multiracial/other: 2.1%

Native American/American Indian: 0.3%

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: <0.1%

Non-resident: 9.9%

Race unknown: 1%

White: 75.8%


St Lawrence University offers a variety of benefits for their employees including medical, dental, retirement, and more.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin October 18, 2023 and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Mark Hall at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

The anticipated hiring range is $185,000-$200,000 annually, commensurate with education and experience. A house adjacent to the campus is provided for the vice president.

Visit the St. Lawrence University website at

St. Lawrence University has a goal to build a community that celebrates and respects diversity in all forms. St. Lawrence engages a multitude of voices and intentionally develops spaces where everyone can teach and learn from one another in order to create a culture where all ideas are welcomed, valued, considered, and respected.