Director of Residential Life

Job description

Full-time, year round full-time position, salary commensurate with experience.

Reporting to the Senior Associate Dean of Students, the Director of Residential Life is responsible for creating and supporting a vibrant community of students in residence at Amherst College.

The Director has primary responsibility for effectively creating coordinating, assessing, and maintaining a comprehensive residential life program at Amherst College. Leadership in residential life at Amherst includes accountability for programs and services, including room assignments; selecting, training, and supporting 70 Resident Counselors (RCs) distributed across 37 residence halls; developing and supporting a variety of living/learning communities and theme houses; and working with students, Resident Counselors, and Assistant Directors to ensure that residential life at Amherst advances academic priorities, encourages community-building, prioritizes and emphasizes interdependence and adherence to community standards, and supports students' well-being and safety. The Director will supervise six Assistant Directors.

The Director must have a strong, collaborative vision and be motivated by the idea of working in close partnership with other student life professionals, faculty, and students to take full advantage of Amherst's distinctive assets and opportunities—notably extraordinary student diversity, with nearly 98% of students living on campus—in creating a dynamic, vibrant living and learning community. The Director partners with the Director of Student Activities to integrate student activities and residential living in a holistic and inclusive model of campus life.

The Director will work closely with a variety of campus partners under the leadership of the Chief Student Affairs Officer, Dean of Students, and the Senior Associate Dean of Students to assist in designing and implementing living and learning initiatives, identifying intended student learning outcomes linked to academic and College priorities; coordinating a broad spectrum of living and learning communities and theme housing programs; ensuring that the management and operations of residence life, including the continued development of the on-line room assignment process, are conducted with consistent high quality and effectiveness in both implementation and communication; coordinating and implementing evidence-based assessment, planning, and resource allocation; and maintaining strong liaison relationships with Facilities, Campus Police, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other offices both within Student Affairs and throughout the College community to promote safety, mediate conflicts, and manage crises.

The Director must understand and respond to the needs of an expanding diversity of students and be effective in developing residential life models and programs that sustain an inclusive and healthy campus community.

The College is in the second phase of a process of renewal and reinvestment in student life; a reconsideration of the organizational, programmatic, operational, and curricular models of on-campus living and student activities is a core element of that process. The incoming Director of Residential Life will work closely with the Chief Student Affairs Officer, Dean of Students, Senior Associate Dean of Students, Director for Student Activities, Class Deans, and other Student Affairs colleagues to create and bring to life an exciting new vision for on-campus learning and living at Amherst.

This is not a live-in position, but it does require that the Director be available to support live-in professional and student staff and to assist in managing emergencies and crises that occur after normal business hours.

Residential Life at Amherst

Ninety-eight percent of Amherst College students live on-campus. The College has 37 student residence halls; seven of these buildings host first-year students; the remainder host sophomores, juniors, and seniors in various room configurations. The occupancy of these halls ranges from 10 to approximately 125. Ten of the buildings are currently theme houses. Construction of the Greenway Residence Halls - four new residence halls creating a new residential quad - was completed in August 2016.

Residential Life staffing at Amherst includes, in addition to the Director and the Assignments Coordinator, five residential area-coordinating Assistant Directors (master degree-level professional positions), an Assistant Director for Housing Assignments and Operations, and 70 student Resident Counselor positions.

Key Responsibilities

Residence Life Leadership

  • Work in close partnership with the Chief Student Affairs Officer, Dean of Students, Senior Associate Dean of Students, and Director for Student Activities, and colleagues in the faculty and Student Affairs to develop and implement a unique, distinctive and comprehensive residentially-based living/learning experience for all Amherst students that supports and advances the College's academic mission.
  • Supervise the Assistant Directors (ADs) and Resident Counselors (RCs); oversee the recruitment, hiring, training, supervision, leadership development, and evaluation of all professional, student, and support staff.
  • Coordinate and administer operations in on-campus housing, including supervision of the process of room assignments and related activities.
  • Coordinate professional and student-staff training and in-service sessions throughout the year, including a comprehensive program of summer staff preparation and training.
  • Work with ADs and RCs to assess student needs and interests and collaborate with the Director for Student Activities to promote programs that support the vision, values, and standards of the residential community.
  • The development of thorough documentation, implementation, and consistent application of protocols and procedures to assure legal compliance (including FERPA, Clery, Title IX, DFSCA), ethical standards, and best practices.
  • The expertise to review, formulate, assess, and continually revise College policies governing residential life.
  • Collaborate with other offices on campus, in the development and implementation of educational, social and educational programs within the campus living and learning community.
  • Stay abreast of research regarding best practices for the development, assessment, and institutionalization of successful living and learning programs to serve a diverse student population.
  • Use relevant student development theory and evidence-based best practices to assist the Senior Associate Dean of Students and the Dean of Students in developing and institutionalizing living and learning initiatives that support student needs and create engaging learning environments.
  • Work with professional and student staff, and more broadly with the student community, to create, articulate, and ensure accountability for community standards.
  • Provide support and intervention as needed to assist professional and student staff to mediate, manage and resolve crisis and conflicts within the living and learning community. Provide referral assistance as needed.
  • Respond to critical incidents and emergencies occurring on campus and in the living and learning community, and work collaboratively with Campus Police and other campus departments to assure that crisis and emergency response matters are managed effectively.
  • Be consistently and predictably available and serve as an “on call” administrator to respond to urgent questions and concerns related to on-campus issues.

Campus Partnerships

  • Participate in the building of partnerships that support student, staff, and faculty engagement in living and learning initiatives in the areas of intercultural learning, diversity, inclusion, and conflict resolution.



  • Master's degree in higher education administration, educational leadership, student development, counseling, or a related field.
  • Five years of pertinent experience in residential life programs in higher education, including progressively greater levels of responsibility and accountability.
  • Experience leading and supervising professional staff and demonstrated commitment to the professional development of those members.
  • Experience supervising a diverse student staff.
  • Knowledge of college student development theory and practice.
  • Knowledge of residence life and housing operations, principles, and models in higher education.
  • Demonstrated commitment to on-campus living and learning community development and programming.
  • Robust understanding of academic priorities and ways in which on-campus living and learning communities and functions can promote student engagement, advance student learning, and contribute to achieving desired learning goals.
  • Demonstrated effective administrative, supervisory, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
  • Strong skills in written, verbal, and electronic communication, including the effective use of social media.
  • Evidence-based commitment to supporting a diverse student community.
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively with other Student Affairs departments and members of the faculty in the College community.
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment, exhibit resiliency under pressure, set priorities, and achieve goals.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and the names and contact information (e-mail and/or telephone number) for three professional references. Applications will be reviewed until position is filled.

Amherst College is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women, persons of color, and persons with disabilities to apply. The College is committed to enriching its educational experience and its culture through the diversity of its faculty, administration, and staff.

Amherst College, one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the nation, is located in Amherst, Massachusetts, a town of approximately 35,000 residents in the western part of the state. The college's community is composed of about1,800 students from 49 states, plus D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and 54 countries around the world, and about 1,000 staff and faculty. The college's scenic 1,000-acre campus includes a 500-acre wildlife sanctuary and the Book & Plow Farm; three museums: Emily Dickinson Museum, Beneski Museum of Natural History and Mead Art Museum; and multiple educational and cultural venues and resources through the Five College Consortium. The town of Amherst offers an amazing variety of coffee shops, restaurants and entertainment, and a very active outdoor life. Our vibrant campus, diverse community and beautiful surrounding, makes Amherst College and the Town of Amherst a great place to work, learn and live!





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Job No:
Posted: 3/11/2017
Application Due: 5/10/2017
Work Type: