Cornell University is pleased to announce a national search for the position of Director of Counseling and Psychological Services. Keeling & Associates will partner with the University and conduct this search process with a focus on identifying an excellent clinical and administrative colleague who will contribute high-quality insights and vision as a member of the Cornell Health leadership team. The director will embrace a commitment to diversity and inclusion and provide outstanding mentorship, supervision, and oversight to a dedicated team of professionals. Serving as a colleague and strong collaborator within Cornell Health and throughout the University community, the director will have the opportunity to build upon existing success and enhance the services, programs, and responsiveness to students.

In the setting of unprecedented demand for college mental health services across the country, the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will join Cornell Health at a time of great excitement, opportunity, and challenge as the team implements an integrated mental health model designed to best meet the needs of students today and tomorrow. With an emphasis on access, meeting students where they are, and collaborative care to supplement traditional services, the Director of CAPS will lead a large, multi-disciplinary and dedicated team through this advancement, contributing to the vision, and providing strong leadership.

Reporting to the Assistant Vice President of Student & Campus Life for Health and Wellbeing, the Director of CAPS will provide strategic leadership and operational oversight for comprehensive mental health services for Cornell students and clinical supervision for the University’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) in support of employee wellbeing.

The Director of CAPS is a member of the Cornell Health senior leadership team and works collaboratively with peers in Medical Services, the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, Occupational Medicine, and Student Disability Services in support of holistic health and wellbeing of Cornell students. Essential to the new mental health model, the Director of CAPS will rely on a deep clinical background in their extensive collaboration with the Director of Medical Services in the provision of a Behavioral Health Consultant program and integrated model of psychotropic medication prescribing with an overall objective of both quality of service and patient safety. 

The Director of CAPS will provide direct leadership and programmatic oversight for all administration, budgets, services, and staff within CAPS. The Director will manage a budget of $7.3M and will oversee a staff of over 50 including full-time and part-time staff and clinical trainees. Those directly supervised by the Director include an Associate Director, three Assistant Directors of CAPs, an Associate Director of FSAP, as well as the members of the psychiatry team. The Director recognizes the importance of a collaborative and compassionate leadership style, and embraces the strengths and skills of the team as they work through challenges.

The Director of CAPS must have an acute awareness of the importance of culture, race, gender identity, religion, and disability status and how they and other dimensions of diversity intersect to impact mental health. They will rely on their own cultural humility and work closely with the CAPS staff to ensure support for an increasingly diverse student population. 

The position is expected to play a key role in strengthening linkages between CAPS, other departments in Student & Campus Life, and the larger campus community through the coordination of services and activities in support of holistic mental health of Cornell students. The Director of CAPS interfaces with senior administration and faculty, and collaborates and liaises with other internal and external partners including students, student groups, parents, university departments, and community agencies as a way to bridge the various dimensions of mental health inside and outside of the classroom. Key internal relationships include the Office of the Dean of Students, Athletics & Physical Education, Housing & Residential Life, and student service representatives of the undergraduate colleges, and graduate and professional schools.

The Director of CAPS also plays a pivotal role in ensuring critical incident follow-up for students and parents. Through a mature and supportive approach, the individual engenders trust, fosters a collegial environment, and brings out the best in students and colleagues.


Position Requirements

  • An advanced degree in a mental health discipline (psychology, social work, or counseling)
  • A minimum of ten years professional experience and at least four years of multifaceted supervisory experience
  • Licensed in NY State or eligibility for NY State clinical license within six months of hire
  • Deep clinical skills and an expert level understanding of college mental health
  • Knowledge of national and international issues, trends, and best practice standards
  • The ability to monitor the rapidly evolving characteristics and needs of new generations of college students
  • Demonstrated thought leader with eagerness to explore evolving methods in mental health support while considering and building upon the expertise of others
  • Demonstrated ability to understand and respond to the distinctive climate/culture of a university campus
  • A record of strong partnership and influence with constituents to advance mental health campus wide

Candidates will demonstrate experience supporting the following expectations:

  • Ability to positively shape mental health for the university.  Demonstrated success in managing outwardly in multiple directions. Excellent communication skills with ability to interface with a broad group of stakeholders (e.g., students, staff, faculty, administrators, parents) and media. The director will write and speak frequently in varied styles to convey messages in a persuasive, efficient, and inspiring manner.
  • Experience working with, and relating to, students and a deep dedication to improving the mental health of this specific population. A desire for sincere engagement with students, the campus and the community; demonstrated capacity to communicate broadly across a complex and decentralized organization, cultivate and sustain collegial relationships, and build unity around difficult issues; an active listener, facilitator, convener and mediator; the flexibility, resiliency, and creativity to thrive in a lean environment. Understanding and appreciation for the benefits and limitations of living and working within a small college-town community.
  • Proven record of success and of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Solid understanding of difference and the impacts of dimensions of diversity and intersectionality on mental health and support. Experience developing cultural competence within mental health professionals.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and positively with others. Collaborative, influence-based leadership style that promotes constructive relationships, partnerships, conflict resolution, and cross-functional cooperation.
  • Proven skills as a decisive leader and effective manager. Demonstrated ability to mentor, develop, and support staff in an environment where the work is demanding and pressure is high. Experience leading through large scale change and provide successful motivation of the staff and oversight of the budget and space. Mindful of the need for compassion, fairness, consistency, and the potential impact of each decision on individuals and the broader community.
  • Ability to mitigate risk through the adherence to university policies and procedures, laws, and guidelines applicable to the provision of mental health services and clinical practice, including those pertaining to accreditation and staff licensure.
  • Ability to think critically and use a data-driven approach to evaluate information and implement timely decisions/recommendations that anticipate the cost/benefits, risks, and organizational impact of decisions. The ideal candidate will have experience with outcomes-based assessment and budget development and fiscal management.


Mental Health Strategic Leadership
– 35%

Utilizing a strong clinical background and in partnership with the AVP, the Director oversees the development and implementation of short- and long-range plans and provides an organizational framework that supports a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach to mental health support on campus. The Director will be responsible for effectively communicating a shared vision, priorities, goals, and objectives for student mental health; strengthening the existing model and providing skilled leadership and planning for complementary on-campus programming including programs specific for new and continuing students; ensuring that ongoing assessment and evaluations are executed; and identifying organizational and cultural changes needed to adapt strategically to changing cultural, generational, and environmental demands.

The Director will serve as a key thought partner for the Assistant Vice President of Student & Campus Life for Health and Wellbeing and will work collaboratively and effectively with members of the Cornell Health senior leadership team. The Director will possess shared Student & Campus Life values, a strong sense of self, and the capacity to lead with soft power and use persuasive authority to achieve the vision and goals of the Division.

With recent changes to student support models within Cornell Health, the Director will need to lead and adeptly guide the staff within CAPS relying on experienced change management skills. The Director will build, develop, train, lead and evaluate a strong team committed to innovative practices, collaboration, quality services, community support, and diversity and inclusivity.


Administration and Supervision
– 30%

The Director leads, develops, and promotes a highly-qualified, talented, professional, and well-trained staff to adequately support the departmental and division mission, scope of services provided, and volume and diversity of students served; and ensures compliance with all policies, regulations, accreditation standards, and laws.

In collaboration with CAPS administrative and Cornell Health finance team, the Director will submit and monitor annual operating budget of CAPS. The Director will be responsible for selection, evaluation, development, and change of status of all mental health professional and support staff; and will maintain compliance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations concerning CAPS clinical functions.

The Director will provide oversight and leadership for CAPS Assistant Directors in their administrative roles; provide oversight for the Faculty Staff Assistance Program by offering administrative direction and clinical support; oversee clinical supervision of clinicians on staff; provide administrative guidance and direction regarding clinical situations; develop plans for ongoing training of clinical staff; and provide leadership and direction for training programs for post-doctoral residents and interns as applicable. In collaboration with other Cornell Health departments, the Director will provide an integrated after-hours service for the entire university community.

The Director will organize and oversee a quality assurance program to meet the standards of outside health accreditation groups such as AAAHC; oversee documentation of clinical services and collateral contacts for CAPS; serve as liaison with Cornell Health administration on the management of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) as it relates to CAPS needs; and develop policies regarding the use of the EHR, which includes overseeing regular template development and revision. In addition, the Director will oversee operational efficiency through management reporting (i.e. productivity reports, resource distribution), and the collection and use of data to improve the quality of care.


Campus Public Health/ Outreach
– 15%

The Director will participate in divisional and university committees and projects is expected, including close collaboration in strategic planning and implementation of university-wide (all Cornell campuses) and Ithaca-based campus-wide mental health initiatives. Committee responsibilities may include the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), the Divisional Leadership Team, and the Coalition on Sexual Violence Prevention, collaboration with the directors of the police department and counsel’s office in threat assessment. This role is engaged in University-level case and crisis management including direct communication with students and parents. There will be expectations of off-hours responsibilities, especially related to crisis management.

The Director will represent CAPS and Cornell Health at the University level, as assigned by the AVP. This includes but is not limited to the Coalition on Mental Health, the Behavioral Health Committee, crisis managers meetings, Alert team, and others, as assigned.

The Director will develop short and long-range community-based services and education plans for different facets of university community; collaborate with the Director of The Skorton Center for Health Initiatives and AVP for Community Relations to develop effective and consistent messaging around mental health; and oversee periodic needs assessment, program development, and program evaluation to ensure that programs and services are responsive to student and community needs.

The Director will act as leader on task forces chartered by the Assistant Vice President of Student & Campus Life for Health and Wellbeing to identify and address critical student health issues and needs.


Direct Clinical Services
– 10%

The Director will maintain a 10% clinical caseload with a general range of clinical activities including evaluation, crisis intervention, brief psychotherapy of a wide range of patients (individuals, couples, and groups) presenting to the clinic. The Director will also provide consultation to other clinical staff as needed; Facilitate involuntary hospitalizations when needed; and provide back up on-call responsibilities for a variety of urgent and emergency situations including nights, weekends and holidays.


Hospital, community and agency network liaison
– 10%

The Director will oversee aspects of delivery of CAPS services including contracting, credentialing, and compliance with documentation requirements.

The Director will serve as primary liaison for mental health with area hospital and community agencies and providers to ensure that students and other patients receive optimal and coordinated care.


About Cornell University

Cornell is a private, Ivy League university and the land-grant university for New York state. Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community. Cornell also aims, through public service, to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of New York and others around the world.

Cornell is situated in picturesque Ithaca, New York, the heart of the Finger Lakes. Ithaca is home to two academic institutions, state parks, waterfalls, gorges, and a wide range of art galleries, theaters, eateries, wineries, and breweries. Ithaca has something to suit all ages and interests!


Application Process and Timeline

The University has partnered with Keeling & Associates, LLC, in this search process. Application materials should include a resume/curriculum vitae and a letter of interest and must be sent to recruiting@keelingassociates.com. The subject line of the email should read “Cornell – Director, CAPS.”  A confidential review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the appointment is made. All materials submitted by January 29, 2020, will be given full consideration.

Nominations, expressions of interest, and requests for confidential conversations about the position prior to application are welcome and should be directed to the K&A senior consultant leading this search, Dr. Jan Walbert, at jwalbert@KeelingAssociates.com.


EEO Statement

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

To download the position profile, click here.