Dean of Students

Job description

Amherst brings together the most promising students, whatever their financial need, in order to promote diversity of experience and ideas within a purposefully small residential community.

--from the Amherst College mission statement

Amherst College, one of the nation's leading highly selective liberal arts colleges, seeks a strategic and seasoned Dean of Students (Dean) to partner with the Chief Student Affairs Officer to lead the College's efforts to provide an exemplary student experience. Reporting to the Chief Student Affairs Officer, and serving as the deputy in matters related to student engagement and development, the Dean will serve as a compelling campus leader, a builder of both a strong student services organization and campus community, and a talented administrator of broad reach and high visibility. The Dean oversees a robust portfolio and has direct responsibility for a number of key functional areas within the division, including: residential life, case management, new student programs, student activities, community standards, and religious and spiritual life. The Dean also serves as the chair of the community standards hearing board and leads the sexual misconduct adjudication process. The Dean has a significant role in the experience of all Amherst students and is charged with enhancing the quality of life in the Amherst community at a time when the social and academic needs of college students is evolving quickly.

This is a distinctive opportunity for an accomplished and strategic student affairs professional to elevate the breadth and depth of resources available to Amherst students. It is a time of exciting transition at Amherst's student affairs division, with Hikaru “Karu” Kozuma's appointment as Chief Student Affairs Officer in July 2018. The College is deeply committed to the student affairs division and fully supports its ambitious plans to propel the College into the next phase of its evolution. The energy on campus is palpable, and important new initiatives are well underway. The Dean will join Amherst at a propitious moment and have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the student experience for years to come by developing new programs and establishing processes that directly affect students. The position demands creative leadership, results orientation, and a thorough understanding of the best practices in student affairs. Success will require understanding and optimizing the interdependence of the curricular and co- curricular aspects of the students' education.

Founded in 1821, Amherst College has a long tradition of academic excellence. Today, it is one of the most selective and diverse liberal arts colleges in the nation. It has a distinguished faculty of 200 teacher-scholars educating a student population of nearly 1,850 students. Its exceptional students are drawn by the open curriculum, the intimacy of instruction, the diversity of the student body, and the College's reputation for excellence.

To identify a new Dean, a nine-member search committee composed of faculty, students, and staff has been formed. The committee will be co-chaired by Chief Student Affairs Officer Kozuma and Martha Umphrey, Bertrand H. Snell 1894 Professor in American Government. The committee will be assisted by the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. Inquiries, nominations, and applications, which will remain confidential, should be directed to the search firm as indicated at the end of this document.


Amherst College, long considered a strong and distinguished institution, has begun to make even larger strides in recent years. As the College has become more inclusive, it has preserved what has made an Amherst education great while adapting to meet the needs of new generations of students and changing circumstances. It attends more systematically to the central tasks of advising and teaching than it did a generation ago, and it continues to seek new and more effective ways to integrate the liberal arts and deep inquiry with the skills and habits of mind that students and their parents expect. It is a liberal arts college that prioritizes research where faculty break important new ground in their fields without sacrificing their commitment to the bedrock endeavor: the teaching of students, mostly in small groups, but sometimes one-on- one, and always with an emphasis on personal attention. In its financial-aid policies, commitment to diversity and inclusion, emphasis on social engagement, and aggressive outreach to international students, the College has become a national leader. It has also become a leader in the national conversation about the importance of liberal arts education in the face of critics who question its value even as the need for it grows.

Renowned for its talented students, committed faculty, and rigorous academic life, Amherst offers degrees in 40 fields of study. With a student-faculty ratio of eight to one, Amherst's classes are characterized by close colloquy among students and acclaimed faculty. Students participate in sophisticated research, and Amherst's open curriculum allows each student—with the help of faculty advisers—to chart an individual path through the more than 800 courses offered at the College. Honors work is encouraged, and in recent years, has been undertaken by nearly half of the graduating class.

Amherst is a member of the Five College Consortium with nearby Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Students may take courses at any of the member institutions, and the schools' proximity to each other adds to Amherst's rich social and extracurricular life.

Diversity, defined in its broadest sense, is fundamental to Amherst's mission. The College enrolls students from nearly every state and from more than 50 countries, and for the past several years, more than 40 percent of Amherst's students have self-identified as students of color. Since its founding, Amherst has remained one of the few truly need-blind colleges in the nation; students are admitted without regard to financial aid, and each admitted student, including international students, is guaranteed aid equal to their demonstrated financial need. The College's financial aid packages are often the most generous in the nation, and among its peer institutions, Amherst has the most economic diversity. By any measure of accessibility and quality, Amherst is consistently ranked among the top schools in the country. Its outstanding resources, dedicated faculty, and rigorous academic life allow the College to enroll students with an extraordinary range of talents, interests, and passions.


Amherst students bring a richness of experience to campus, and they are all united in academic strength and passion for exploration and engagement. By any measure, the approximately 1,850 students are outstanding: the Class of 2022, for example, has mean SAT scores of 720 in critical reading, 721 in math, and 714 in writing, and a mean ACT score of 32. Virtually every student graduates within five years, and many go on to distinguished careers throughout society.

The diversity of student experiences and backgrounds is central to the College's mission and has increased dramatically over the past decade. Of the students enrolled in the Class of 2022, some 48 percent identify as students of color, and seven percent are international students. Sixty-two percent receive scholarship aid from the College, and 29 percent are from families eligible to receive federal Pell grants.


Biddy Martin was elected the nineteenth president of Amherst College in June 2011. Prior to her arrival at Amherst, she served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as Cornell University's provost. President Martin is a national leader on issues of access in higher education and is committed to deep engagement with students, faculty, alumni, and the entire Amherst community. She has chosen to address the challenges facing liberal arts education directly by developing a strategic plan focused on preserving what has made an Amherst education great, while adapting it to the challenges of the twenty first century.

With a student-centric and approachable leadership style, President Martin has led the College in its quest to become not only a more diverse, but also a more inclusive community. An important part of this effort has been the recruitment of two senior administrative positions devoted to the cause, the Chief Student Affairs Officer and the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Hikaru “Karu” Kozuma became Chief Student Affairs Officer in July 2018. Previously Karu served as Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). At Penn, Karu led aspects of undergraduate, graduate, and professional student affairs, activities, and programming for the institution. As a member of the division's senior staff, he also oversaw strategic planning, budgeting, and management. Karu repositioned the Office of Student Affairs as the central student organizational advising office, created a new department for sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and education, expanded educational and prevention programs for addressing alcohol and other drug use, and increased the organization's crisis and emergency response initiatives, among other accomplishments. As part of the Amherst community, Karu is an integral member of President Martin's senior staff, responsible for developing programmatic innovations and leading institutional change. He also provides operational leadership for the Office of Student Affairs, with a portfolio including the class deans, the counseling center, student health services, accessibility services, and health education.


The College is making significant changes to the vision and organization of the Office of Student Affairs. The President, administration, and faculty consider the transformation of student life at Amherst to be one of their highest priorities. The College has two key goals in mind: to ensure that students have the support they need to succeed academically, and to build a community that allows every student to take advantage of the talent and diversity of the student body as a whole.

As the number two position in the division, the Dean directly reports to and closely collaborates with the Chief Student Affairs Officer. The Dean has five direct reports, including the Senior Associate Dean of Students, and oversight for the following departments: case management, community standards, new student programs, religious and spiritual life, residential life, and student activities.

The Dean is charged with maintaining a high level of direct and visible involvement with students, earning their trust and respect, and providing a model of engagement with students for other administrators and faculty. The Dean is responsible for overseeing an array of academic and personal support services and programs designed to ensure students' academic success as well as their intellectual and personal growth. This individual works closely with faculty to achieve those goals, designing and implementing programs that provide students with the competencies required to build community in a diverse environment, and advocating for students and student interests. The Dean will continue the evolution of the office of residential life, developing an engagement and program model that aligns with and supports Amherst's vibrant culture.


The new Dean will enter Amherst at an exciting time of significant change in the division. Along with the Chief Student Affairs Officer, the next Dean will help guide this transition by developing and articulating a compelling and coherent vision for student affairs at Amherst that conveys an appreciation of and respect for the academic and intellectual culture of the institution.

Amherst's commitment to the student experience has never been stronger. The Dean is a critical hire for the College and a tremendous opportunity for a student affairs leader to join Amherst at this important moment, to serve its students as an inspiring and respected advocate, and to contribute to the College's efforts to provide the very best experience for each student in its diverse community.

The primary opportunities and challenges for the Dean include the following:

Promote a fully integrated campus experience that empowers students as true partners

The next Dean will promote the vision of a fully integrated student experience, combining all of the dimensions of student life with a keen appreciation that fulfillment of its academic mission is the College's paramount obligation. The Dean will help students strike the right balance between the rigor of the classroom and the challenges outside, inspiring students and providing opportunities for them to be responsible young adults and active citizens within and beyond the College community.

The Dean will forge strong connections with the faculty, earning their respect and trust as an advocate for and connection to the division of student life. The Dean is responsible for supporting continued collaboration between the faculty and staff in the College and the Office of Student Affairs to maintain and enhance a premier residential college experience for students. This individual will seek opportunities to meaningfully engage faculty in student affairs efforts and will work with the campus leadership teams to ensure all students have access to the resources and services they need to be successful in the classroom.

The new Dean will collaborate closely with the Chief Student Affairs Officer and the Association of Amherst Students (student government) to add more communal space for students to connect various communities across campus. The Dean will also be charged with streamlining existing policies and processes, including the College's party policy and the new student orientation process. Many of these efforts will require the engagement of other partners across campus, including the College Police Department. As social media and technology change the way students interact with one another and the world, the Dean must understand these changes and use these tools effectively to engage students in meaningful conversations around these important topics.

Advance Amherst's commitment to community and diversity in all its forms

Broadly defined, diversity is one of Amherst's core values. Students come to Amherst from more than 50 countries, and the campus community is home to students of diverse ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds; religious beliefs; and views that span the political spectrum. The new Dean must be fluent in diversity and inclusion, and will have the opportunity to use the College's diversity to expand and enrich the educational environment, not simply by adding more programming, but by embedding diversity and inclusion throughout the campus, ensuring that all students benefit from studying and living in a diverse community.

The Dean will work with the Chief Student Affairs Officer and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to envision new ways to encourage better alignment between student life and Amherst's values and aspirations. The Dean will lead the effort to unite students from varying backgrounds to enliven campus life and broaden social opportunities. The Dean will work to encourage, organize, and help lead campus-wide efforts to build an even more inclusive and welcoming campus community, including supporting alternative outlets to alcohol as a basis for social life and promoting the values of diversity and sexual respect.

Enhance direct and visible engagement with students

The College has a tradition of deeply committed student life leaders who have sustained a high level of involvement with students. Direct interaction with students is a critical component of this position; the Dean will closely engage with students, earn their trust and respect, and provide a model of engagement with students for other administrators and faculty. The next Dean must engage with students both one-on-one as well as at campus events and within the community. The Dean will serve as a role model for the student body, personifying the character and moral and ethical standards that are an integral part of Amherst's culture and tradition.

While the Dean needs to be able to effectively extinguish immediate fires in moments of crisis, this individual must also bring a strategic eye to the role, directly addressing the most pressing issues facing the student body, including alcohol use and mental health. On average, students are coming to campus with better academic preparation than ever before, but many students today are less resilient than those of previous generations. The Dean must promote social connectedness and resiliency by fostering a healthy educational environment for all students across campus. At the same time, the Dean must ensure that the needs of distinct student populations are met, including first generation students, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, international students, student-athletes, veterans, and others.

Manage and develop a strong team into a collaborative organization

An experienced manager, the Dean will bring strong organizational development skills and a track record of building and managing high-performing teams. Amherst has a talented and committed student affairs staff, including a number of recent additions to the team. The Dean will lead and develop this group of experienced student affairs professionals, maintaining high standards of performance and supporting collaboration among the units in the office and with colleagues across the College.

Working closely with the Chief Student Affairs Officer, the Dean will lead and skillfully guide the staff within the Office of Student Affairs through important organizational changes that will centralize some of its subdivisions—both physically and organizationally—and break down silos across the team. The Dean will need to work closely with the Chief of Campus Operations, the Department of Facilities Operations, and the Department of Auxiliary Services to achieve many of these goals. Ultimately, this shift will result in staff being better equipped to support students and provide access to the resources necessary for them to be successful.

Provide strategic and decisive leadership and management

The Dean will serve as a key thought partner for the Chief Student Affairs Officer and should be able to seamlessly function in his absence. The successful candidate will possess a strong sense of values and a sense of self in addition to the capacity to lead with soft power and use persuasive authority to achieve the vision and goals of the division. The Dean is expected to be a leader not only within the Office of Student Affairs but also within the College community.

The Dean must also possess the capacity to develop effective systems that will streamline office functions and increase productivity. With the recent appointment of the Director of New Student Programs, the Office of Student Affairs is centralizing the orientation function, and it is in the process of further refining the organizational structure of the Office of Residential Life. The College includes 34 student residence halls and houses, seven of which comprise the first-year quad. Twenty-seven halls and houses, existing in various room configurations, are dedicated to returning students. One important task for the Dean is to create and design an engaging residential and co-curricular life to provide students with the competencies and experiences required to build a rich learning environment.

The Successful Candidate

This is an opportunity for an accomplished and creative student life leader to join the student affairs team at Amherst, to serve its students as an inspiring and respected ally, and to lead Amherst's efforts to provide the very best student experience. The successful candidate will have a proven record of creating new opportunities for student success and developing strong and deep relationships with students, faculty, and staff. The Dean will be excited by the prospect of devoting the majority of his/her time to developing students and helping them navigate the resources available to them on and off campus. The Dean should be an energetic and resilient person, ready to handle day-to-day operational issues and needs while also providing strategic thinking and innovative leadership now and for the future.

The successful candidate will bring many of the following professional qualifications, skills, experience, and personal qualities to the position:

  • A passion for providing support and opportunities for Amherst's students, an authentic appreciation for the College's history and traditions as well as a vision of its potential, and a talent for working across boundaries to develop a more fully integrated living and learning experience;
  • A liveliness of intellect and a commitment to engage collaboratively with faculty, responding effectively to their needs and concerns, a record of partnering with faculty to advance integration of living and learning, and rigorous habits of mind that will be at home in an intensely intellectual culture;
  • A deep understanding of the educational value of a diverse community, a demonstrated track record of advancing diversity and enhancing inclusiveness, and an ability to bring groups and individuals to common ground across lines of difference, including race, class, and socioeconomic status;
  • Wisdom and superb judgment and the capacity to make and stand by difficult decisions, always mindful of the need for fairness, consistency, and the potential impact of each decision on individuals and the broader community;
  • Sincere engagement with students and the campus community and a strong, visible presence and active participation in a range of student interests and activities;
  • Demonstrated capacity to communicate broadly across the College, cultivate and sustain collegial relationships, and build unity around difficult issues by being an active listener, facilitator, convener, and mediator;
  • Proven skills as a manager, demonstrated ability to mentor and support staff and provide successful oversight of people, budget, and space;
  • A track record of inspiring colleagues with energy and a dedication to their professional development, as well as a commitment to clear communication and accountability;
  • Sophisticated interpersonal skills with a firm, but fair, approach to the resolution of conflict, a commitment to consult extensively balanced by a willingness to act decisively when consensus is elusive, and energy, agility, sense of humor, and flexibility to work side-by-side with a dynamic Chief Student Affairs Officer;
  • Proven ability to manage through crises with equanimity, discretion, and a sense of responsibility and respect for students, families, and the institution;
  • Devotion to the highest ethical standards; personal and professional integrity above

Amherst College has retained the services of Isaacson, Miller to assist with this search. Review of applications, nominations, and expressions of interest will begin immediately and continue on a confidential basis until an appointment is made. Nominations, applications, and inquiries should be sent in confidence to:

Jeff Kessner, Managing Associate Sherlene Parsons, Associate Isaacson, Miller

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.





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Job No:
Posted: 11/1/2018
Application Due: 12/31/2018
Work Type: