Director of Native Serving Institutions Initiative

Boulder, Colorado
Dec 10, 2018
Jobs Outside Higher Education
Non-Profit Organizations & Associations
Institution Type
Other Organizations

An Excellent Career Opportunity to Promote Native Student Achievement in Higher Education
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education seeks to hire an experienced professional to direct a multistate grant-funded initiative designed to increase the postsecondary attainment rates of American Indian and Alaska Native students enrolled at 22 public colleges and universities with the federal designation of Native American Serving, Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTIs – also referred to as Native Serving Institutions (NSIs). Preference will be given to candidates with successful experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native students and communities.


The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education – WICHE – is a regional nonprofit organization established in the 1950s through an interstate compact and is based in Boulder, Colo. WICHE was created to promote and facilitate resource sharing, collaboration, and cooperative planning among Western states, their colleges and universities, and their systems of higher education. By constructing cooperative arrangements and developing and sharing information and programs, WICHE strives to help states and their residents benefit from an educated workforce. Member states and territories are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely-Associated States.


The Project Director serves as the co-principal investigator for a Lumina Foundation funded initiative, supported by a three-year grant of $990,000 extending to Nov. 30, 2020, titled Reducing the Postsecondary Attainment Gap for American Indians and Alaska Natives: Linking Policy and Practice. The initiative is focused on identifying and supporting the academic and student support needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students enrolled at Native Serving Institutions (NSIs) to improve their educational success and postsecondary attainment levels. The Director manages and/or performs a variety of tasks requiring excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as the ability to efficiently handle multiple priorities and tasks. The Director reports to the Vice President of Programs and Services.

Duties, Roles, and Responsibilities:

Overall Management of the Initiative

  • Develops an annual workplan for the initiative that focuses on engaging Native Serving Institution presidents, senior academic and student services administrators, faculty, tribal leaders and others in individual and collective efforts to reduce American Indian and Alaska Native student attainment gaps. Regularly monitors the task timeline to ensure grant objectives and deliverable deadlines are met.
  • Provides direction to project staff, including an .50 FTE administrative coordinator, .25 FTE Data, Policy and Evaluation Coordinator, and .25 FTE Research Analyst. • Develops the agendas and participates in all NSI staff team meetings, conference calls, and special meetings as needed to collaborate on the design and implementation of program activities supporting the achievement of goals and objectives.
  • Plans the agenda for regular phone briefings with Lumina program officer(s) and provides relevant materials in advance. Responds to requests from all program officers in a timely manner.
  • Provides oversight to the administrative coordinator on the maintenance and expansion of initiative contact lists to ensure they are enrolled in the project listserv and kept informed of project activities.
  • Develops annual grant progress reports and financial reports that are submitted to Lumina Foundation. Also seeks additional grants from foundations and federal agencies, and corporate sponsors to support the initiative’s ongoing operations and future expansion.
  • Manages the project budget in compliance with WICHE accounting/auditing requirements and Lumina Foundation specifications.
  • Maintains frequent contact with the project’s external evaluator to ensure she has the information required to produce a comprehensive evaluation that complies with Lumina Foundation evaluation guidelines.

Annual NSI Summits, Planning Grants and Associated Activities

  • Oversees the planning of annual Native Serving Institution Summits, including drafting agendas, inviting speakers, and developing collateral materials. The Summits convene 85 – 100 institutional presidents and chancellors, administrators and faculty from 22 NSIs and others to share high impact academic and student success strategies and initiatives to increase American Indian and Alaska Native students’ postsecondary attainment rates. The Summits also inform participants of relevant state and federal policy developments that benefit this population of students and institutions. The Director coordinates the meeting logistics and participant travel arrangements with Lumina Foundation’s Convenings Group staff and program officers.
  • Motivates and provides direction to the Summit participants and others involved in the initiative to create a formal network of Native Serving Institutions to enhance their visibility in higher education and public policy arenas. Leads or facilitates meetings (face-to-face and virtual) of faculty and higher education administrators of institutions/systems, state agencies, and regional and national organizations as they explore joining the network.
  • Works with project staff to create comprehensive metrics on American Indian and Alaska Native student educational attainment; oversees the gathering of baseline data from relevant sources and the participating Native Serving Institutions.
  • Monitors and reports on the progress of 11 Native Serving Institutions that received planning grants during the first year of the initiative aimed at fostering Native student retention and completion. Engages the institutional teams in disseminating information on high impact practices that are proving effective in reducing attainment gaps.
  • Directs the provision of technical assistance to the participating NSIs that have not received planning grants to foster improved student success and linkages to Native tribal leaders and constituencies. Identifies consultants to work with the campuses, as needed, and provides oversight to ensure the assistance is meeting campus needs. Prepares and monitors consulting agreements and payments. Travels to some of the NSI campuses to assist, as needed, and attends state-level or sub-regional convenings of NSIs.
  • Seeks the participation of regional and national postsecondary education organizations (such as Achieving the Dream, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Association of Community Colleges, American Council on Education, American Indian College Fund, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Complete College America, National Student Clearinghouse, State Higher Education Executive Officers organization, and others) in the initiative and encourages their contribution of staff expertise and other resources.

Communications and Outreach

  • Maintains communication with and periodically meets with state and federal policymakers and their staffs, U.S. Department of Education administrators, higher education association and tribal community leaders throughout the U.S.
  • Authors status reports for WICHE’s electronic newsletter NewsCap and associated organizations’ newsletters and blogs, prepares website and listserv postings, and project updates for the semi-annual WICHE Commission agenda books.
  • Makes periodic presentations to the WICHE Commission and/or its committees.

Position Specifications:


  1. Master’s degree with at least seven years of recent experience in academic administration in higher education, such as serving as an academic vice president, graduate dean, or an academic dean; or in an academic affairs position in a state governing or coordinating board, or a system-wide academic administrative capacity; or in a senior-level position in a higher education association or organization.
  2. At least seven years of experience working with college/university senior level administrators and faculty.
  3. Successful experience working with students and faculty from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups and knowledge of high impact academic and student support practices that will reduce postsecondary attainment gaps for students of color.
  4. Successful experience in conceptualizing, organizing, and conducting programs involving several colleges and universities in multiple states.
  5. Successful experience working in collaborative arrangements or relationships with other regional and national postsecondary education organizations.
  6. Strong management and analytical skills and an ability to think creatively.
  7. Successful experience soliciting large grants from foundations and federal agencies and maintaining effective relationships with staff of the funding organizations.
  8. Demonstrated experience in developing and monitoring budgets and supervising staff and consultants.
  9. Successful experience in planning aand conducting conferences, webcasts and teleconferences.
  10. Ability to recruit and engage representatives from higher education institutions, system offices, and state agencies to participate in WICHE initiatives.
  11. Excellent communication skills, oral and written.


  1. Successful experience working with American Indian and Alaska Native students and communities.
  2. Familiarity with higher education in the 16-state/territory WICHE region.
  3. A successful track record of securing multiple foundation and federal agency grants.
  4. Published research or other professional writing related to higher education practice and/or policy related to American Indian and/or Alaska Native students.
  5. Earned doctorate degree.

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