Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU) is a thriving, growing comprehensive, liberal arts-based institution with approximately 2,000 traditional, adult and graduate students. Its academic programs are rooted in an enduring commitment to excellence, a belief in the power of personal attention, teaching and learning, and a strong tradition of shared governance. Students choose from over 130 majors, minors and pre-professional programs. The general education Archway Curriculum ensures that every student has an experience-rich education through internships, research projects, service learning or study abroad. Nebraska Wesleyan has received favorable recognition in U.S. News & World Report, which has placed NWU in the Regional Universities-Midwest category since 2016, following its recent growth as a comprehensive university. NWU is in the top 15 percent of colleges and universities named to this category, ranking 24th among 157 institutions. Nebraska Wesleyan’s Prairie Wolves athletic program has a rich tradition of excellence. NWU competes in 21 varsity sports (11 for men, 10 for women) in the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference.Role of the Vice President for Student Life for Nebraska Wesleyan University
Reporting to the president and serving on the president’s cabinet, the vice president for student life provides strategic leadership and vision for transformative experiences that lead to student success beyond the classroom and is responsible for matters related to retention, persistence and engagement that foster excellence among the student body. The vice president will be charged with implementing and supporting the goals outlined in the university’s new strategic plan as they relate to resources, programming and spaces that create a nurturing community that fosters personal connections. The vice president provides leadership for athletics, career center, center for student involvement (including Greek life and student programming), conduct system, counseling services, retention and persistence (including office of diversity and inclusion), residential education and student health services. The position partners with the Title IX office and other campus departments on threat assessment and student safety issues. The vice president oversees 42 full-time employees and numerous part-time employees, has nine direct reports, and administers an annual budget of approximately $4.6 million.Overview of the Division of Student Life
Nebraska Wesleyan’s office of student life cares about the entire life of an NWU student. They care about safety, shelter, health and nutrition. They care about emotional well-being, engagement on campus and connections with classmates. And they care about the direction student’s working life is headed.
- Residential Education
- Student Involvement
- Intercollegiate Athletics
- Campus Recreation
- Career Center
- Counseling Services
- Student Health Center
The vice president for student life is a position of broad and strategic leadership on the NWU campus. The vice president serves as the point person for student life and oversees the many offices and services that support the education, needs, and aspirations beyond the classroom of all students. President Good values senior leaders who foster collegiality, trust and respect. As a member of the president’s cabinet, the vice president for student life is expected to contribute to strategic discussions that impact all areas of the university and bring expertise on student issues to the leadership team.
The VPSL should focus on relationships, infusing new energy and innovative ideas, and providing a vision and sense of clear direction for the division, coupled with a genuine regard for each individual and their history within the division. As with most institutions at this point in the pandemic, the vice president will need a keen awareness that the staff members within the student life division are somewhat exhausted by the preparations and ongoing COVID-19 challenges they have faced for the past two years.
The vice president will also focus on getting to know each staff member, as well as on the promotion of professional growth for each individual within the division to enhance broader leadership skills and to promote dialogue regarding goals within the division, as well as current trends and best practice within their respective areas. The VPSL will work to build 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 VPSL is expected to work with senior academic and administrative leaders to establish systems of shared accountability for the retention of students, their out-of-class experiences, and overall well-being. Progress should be demonstrated by using data-informed metrics and assessments to measure success and disseminate information to appropriate parties. The division will share outcomes with stakeholders and use them to support future planning.
The VPSL will also encounter the following opportunities, priorities and challenges, as shared by university stakeholders.
Measures of Success
- Stay attuned to evolving student needs and interests and support the division’s ability to be innovative and creative in its programming, services and support to students and student organizations.
- Ensure ongoing efforts directed at creating an inclusive, friendly and supportive environment for all students as the university becomes increasingly diverse with regard to socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that diversity and inclusion are reflected in the division’s structure and initiatives.
- Serve as a champion and advocate for the division, delivering a clear message that reinforces the value of student life staff and the contributions they make each day to support student success and the mission of the institution.
- Building on previous successes in the division, the successful candidate will also evaluate the current mix of student services, initiatives and activities, and make recommendations for enrichment or improvement.
- Actively engage students in a holistic manner, be highly visible throughout the campus, and be regarded as a role model for students, exemplifying what it means to be fully engaged with a passionate student population.
- Develop and support strong town/gown relationships through active participation in the community to build positive lines of communication, shared objectives and efforts to enhance student success.
At an appropriate interval after joining Nebraska Wesleyan University, a number of accomplishments will initially define success for the new vice president for student life.
- 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.
A master’s degree and significant leadership experience in higher education administration, including management and supervision in multiple student-facing areas, are required. An earned doctorate is preferred. The ideal candidate will possess experience in strategic planning, financial management and staff supervision; knowledge of, and active engagement with, current and emerging best practices and issues in higher education and student development; a proven track record of strong leadership in response to student and parent issues, concerns, and crisis matters; and a demonstrated commitment to – and experience with – matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The successful candidate will also possess a deep understanding of college student development theory and best practices in student affairs; 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:
- Outstanding interpersonal, communication and conflict resolution skills, with the ability to successfully navigate a variety of constituent relationships;
- Demonstrated affinity and advocacy for the residential independent college experience;
- Evidence of success in facilitating efforts promoting student success and retention;
- Ability to build and maintain productive relationships with the president’s cabinet, senior academic leaders, faculty, students, parents, alumni, board of governors and other constituents important to the success of the university;
- A creative, progressive, energized leader with a strong student-oriented focus;
- 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;
- The 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;
- A professional demeanor, good sense of humor, highly organized and disciplined, and the ability to relate easily to a wide range of groups;
- A 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;
- A flexible and efficient leader with attention to detail and the ability to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines for a wide variety of assignments;
- 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.
Commitment to Diversity
Diversity is a core value of Nebraska Wesleyan University’s mission and we embrace it as a source of strength. Applicants are encouraged to
demonstrate how they enhance and embrace this University core value in a diversity statement submitted as part of their application materials.
Nebraska Wesleyan University provides equal educational and employment opportunities to qualified persons in all areas of university operation without regard to religion or creed, age, genetic information, gender identity and expression, disability, marital status, race, or national or ethnic origin, in compliance with state and federal laws, including but not limited to Title XII, Title IX, and the ADA. E-Verify, EOE.
How to Apply
Review of applications will begin April 5, 2022 and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please visit: http://bit.ly/35ppuO2