Assistant Dean of Residential Life

Sewanee: The University of the South
Sewanee, TN, TN

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Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution

Job Details

Position Overview

Primary Function:
The Assistant Dean of Residential Life is a key position within the Division of Student Life, is a leader and a problem solver. The successful candidate will provide strategic leadership, direction, and vision while overseeing the daily operations of the Office of Residential Life. The Assistant Dean will lead a team of residential life professionals to enhance the residential undergraduate student experience. Undergraduate student housing at the University includes traditional residence halls as well as theme and Greek housing. The Assistant Dean is responsible for the management of the residential life program, including the hiring, training, and supervision of all professional and student staff. Thoughtful and strategic, the Assistant Dean is responsible for resolving high-level, serious, or sensitive student issues that relate to housing in partnership with other Student Life and campus leaders. The successful candidate will act in a leadership capacity within Student Life, nurture the development and oversight of healthy, resilient residential communities; selection, training, and supervision of staff; critical incident response; low-level student conduct occurring in the residence halls, and collaboration with key partners across the university and beyond to help develop students.

This position works with considerable independence and self-direction. Only the general direction and scope of the work to be accomplished are discussed with the supervisor. The staff member is expected to independently carry out position duties and understand what is expected and how to do it.

Career Band: 3B

Position Description

Typical Duties & Responsibilities:

Develop a comprehensive strategic plan to deliver residential and student life programming that promotes personal and social growth, creates community, and promotes affinity and connections among students.

Create an environment where student learning and skill development are facilitated through best practice models for housing and residence life.

Develop and implement policy, procedure, and practice to improve organizational effectiveness and establish high standards for student behavior in the community and stewardship of residential facilities.

Prepare and develop departmental operating plans for a budget of approximately $8 million with significant revenue generation for the institution and contracted expenses for residence hall amenities with the Dean of Students.

Orchestrate all operational processes for undergraduate student housing including, but not limited to: housing assignments, room inspections, move-in & closing, and applying room, board, vandalism, and damage charges.

Responsible for departmental personnel decisions, including the hiring, training, supervision, and evaluation of Residential Life professional staff, including the Assistant Directors of Residential Life, Area Coordinators, and Head Proctors. Indirectly responsible for the hiring, training, supervision, and evaluation of all student staff.

Plan and implement training programs for staff (professional and student); coordinate frequent in-service training/professional development opportunities; conduct annual performance evaluations for all direct reports.

Direct the development of social and educational programs in collaboration with Student Involvement, which are consistent with fostering the ongoing development of each individual and social capacity within the residential communities.

Maintain regular contact with student staff; provide mentorship to developing student leaders within the department.

Conduct weekly staff meetings, including regular one-on-one supervision meetings with residential life professional staff.

Manage complex and sensitive student and family concerns in a professional and timely manner.

Direct the creation of regular reports regarding undergraduate student housing (occupancy, status, opportunities, and challenges).

Develop long and short-term residential facility maintenance plans in coordination with the Dean of Students and AVP of Facilities Management.

Oversee the development of written resources regarding policies, procedures, and information pertaining to Residential Life using a variety of media, including print, web, and intranet platforms.

Maintain proficient knowledge of programs required to execute job tasks including, but not limited to Banner, GoogleDocs, The Housing Director, KeyScan, and Maxient.

Work collaboratively with Student Accessibility Services to oversee all elements of disability accommodations for enrolled undergraduate students in residence halls.

Act in a leadership capacity within the division and as an engaged team member with the division of Student Life to facilitate student co-curricular engagement, build community, assist in crisis situations, including the senior level of on-call duty rotation, and connect students to campus resources when appropriate.

Assist division colleagues with the planning, implementation, and assessment of New Student Orientation.

Work collaboratively with key campus partners, especially the Sewanee Police Department, Sewanee Dining, Facilities Management, and the Office of Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability.

Judgment Required:
Performance of the essential duties of this position is dependent upon independent ingenuity and developmental efforts.

Machines & Equipment Used:
Typical office equipment: computer, copier, etc.

Budgetary Responsibility :
Analyzes budgetary data and develops budget proposals.

Personal Interaction/Communication:
  • Student Contact: Yes, daily
  • Internal: Key working relationships include Facilities Management, Dining, and Finance/Accounting. Works with other departments in Student Life and across the University.
  • External: Works regularly with parents, vendors, visitors, government agencies (Census Bureau), suppliers, and as needed, construction and repair companies.
  • Attributes of a Successful Candidate


  • Graduate degree required (Masters in Education Administration, Leadership Studies, or related area);
  • Terminal degree preferred (Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D.)

  • Experience:
    • Minimum 5 years of full-time progressively responsible experience in residential life or housing.

    • Supervisory experience is required.

    • Experience working with college students, responding to crises, and serving on-call.

    • Additional years of related experience in other areas of higher education are an asset.

    Job-Related Skills:Knowledge and ability to train, motivate, schedule, coordinate, and monitor Residence Life professional and student staff

    Contemporary knowledge of effective supervision principles and the ability to apply them in a professional team environment

    Ability to make independent judgments, work autonomously, and demonstrate initiative

    Ability to work in a professional environment, develop, and nurture relationships across all demographics on campus

    Availability to work evening and weekend hours as needed

    Ability to maintain confidentiality and discretion

    Ability to think critically, make good decisions, and defend decision-making in a reasonable, effective manner

    Knowledge and skills to operate a wide variety of standard office equipment and programs (computers, printers, telephone, fax, copy machines, Outlook, Excel, Word, etc.)

    Understanding of database software

    Knowledge and experience of other cultures and customs

    Comprehensive knowledge of available college and community resources

    Knowledge of relevant college policies, procedures, and practices with the ability to answer questions and/or interpret in order to apply these policies and procedures correctly in various situations

    Knowledge of effective customer service techniques with the ability to present one's self and the college in a positive and professional manner

    The ability to create and implement programmatic strategic operational plans enhancing and providing services in alignment with the Division of Student Life and the University’s mission, vision, and values

    Ability to respond calmly and professionally in emergency or high-conflict situations.

    Ability to appropriately manage access to confidential information requiring considerable judgment and discretion

    Knowledge and ability to supervise employees including time clock approvals, completing necessary forms, completing performance feedback, providing development opportunities, and collaborating with HR on disciplinary action when necessary

    The ability to build strong campus relationships with the community and partnerships

    The ability to work collaboratively with other campus departments in order to provide comprehensive services and programs

    The ability to receive constructive feedback and make improvements to work practices and programs based on the feedback

    Licenses & Certifications: NoneSupplemental Information

    Confidential Information:
    Deals with significant confidential information on a daily basis.

    Working Environment:

  • Primarily typical office environment.
  • Also spends time in residence facilities.

  • Physical Requirements:
  • Must be able to stand for extended periods of time,
  • Must be able to walk for extended periods of time,
  • Must be able to climb (many stairs, ladders),
  • Must be able to push and/or pull objects,
  • Must be able to use hands for repetitive tasks,
  • Must be able to lift up to 10 pounds (Sedentary work)

  • Any additional requirements specific to this position:

    The University of the South, commonly known as Sewanee, comprises a nationally ranked residential College of Arts and Sciences and a School of Theology. The University is strongly committed to the values of intellectual inquiry, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and living and serving in community. Situated on 13,000 acres atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Sewanee is known for its stunning natural beauty while providing easy access to Chattanooga, Nashville, and Huntsville. The University is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and seeks to help employees of all backgrounds and identities flourish.

    DEI Institutional Statement:

    At the University of the South, our commitment to inclusion and belonging is grounded in our core values of community, courage, flourishing, and inquiry. We seek to build a community enriched by our diversity and centered on equity, justice, mutual respect, and shared responsibility.

    Equal Employment Opportunity:

    The University of the South is an equal-opportunity educational institution that is committed to creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus environment.


    Working at Sewanee: The University of the South

    Known familiarly as “Sewanee” by its students, faculty, staff and friends, The University of the South offers an unmatched educational experience. The university remains purposefully small and dedicated to building a sense of community. All classes are taught by professors, not graduate teaching assistants, and close faculty-student interaction ensures that each student enjoys a rich and personal educational experience. It is not unusual for students and faculty members to work shoulder to shoulder on research projects and journal articles, to meet for coffee at a local eatery, or to serve together as members of the university orchestra, volunteer fire department, and other civic groups.

    The result of such individualized education is clear in the academic success of Sewanee students and alumni. The university has had 26 Rhodes Scholars—a number that puts Sewanee in the top four nationally among American liberal arts colleges—as well as 27 NCAA Postgraduate Fellows, 43 Watson Fellows, and dozens of Fulbright Scholars, and has an acceptance rate to graduate and professional schools that far outpaces its peers. The School of Theology has added to its alumni ranks countless bishops, including three of the last four presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church.

    Sewanee offers 36 majors, 32 minors, and 15 special programs, along with pre-medicine, pre-nursing, pre-law, and pre-business. More than 40 percent of students participate in study-abroad programs, and a comprehensive endowed program that provides financial support for summer internships has greatly strengthened career development for undergraduates. See more about Sewanee in the "Sewanee Snapshot" here.

    In an era of specialization, Sewanee upholds the broad-based ideals of liberal education as a surer means to success. At the University of the South, the adherence to outstanding liberal arts education and enduring traditions of honor, community, and respect have transformed many generations of students, and have earned the abiding loyalty and support of alumni who are enjoying lives of integrity, leadership, and service.

    The University is located atop the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sewanee’s physical environment, which includes the 13,000–acre Domain (as the campus and surrounding area is known), provides a remarkable academic and recreational resource, and an unparalleled place in which to study and reflect. It invites students to engage in both a multitude of outdoor activities and careful study of the natural environment.

    As the University celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding in 2007–2008, it looked back on a rich history and forward to new opportunities for the next generations. “The essence of Sewanee is consistent from generation to generation,” said Vice Chancellor emeritus Joel Cunningham. “We are a university dedicated to liberal education, to time-honored traditions, and to our commitment to serve our students and this nation. We have been successful in advancing our mission, and I believe we have the resources and the will to ensure that Sewanee’s best years are still to come.”

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