Project Description

Visible and Engaged Student-Centered Leader

The Division of Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh aims to provide Pitt students with the best collegiate experience in the world by actively contributing to the education of the whole student and providing experiences and opportunities to prepare students for success in the global community. In pursuit of this mission, the University is seeking a Dean of Students (Dean) to 1) provide strategic and innovative leadership to key departments and staff, and 2) serve as an accessible and visible advocate for and with students while cultivating a campus environment that is challenging, nurturing, inclusive, and focused on the well-being and success of students. The Dean will report to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Dr. Kenyon Bonner, who will be assuming an expanded role in University leadership. The new Dean will be responsible for a portion of Dr. Bonner’s current portfolio. 

The Dean of Students role is an exciting opportunity for a highly experienced and strong leader and manager who values direct, regular, and genuine engagement with students. It is imperative that the individual selected for this position have high emotional intelligence, as well as a deep understanding of and a demonstrated commitment to addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The division is focused on student wellness, development, and engagement and on facilitating and supporting a sense of belonging and community among all students. The Dean of Students catalyzes these efforts personally and through inspiring, empowering, and leading Student Affairs staff.

The ideal candidate will be experienced, student-centered, creative, compassionate, and a strong communicator and proven leader who has solid operational knowledge of, and success in, leading and managing one or more of the elements of the Dean’s portfolio. Highly desirable qualities include knowledge of and dedication to best practices; clear compassion and care for others, including a strong commitment to the personal and professional well-being of Student Affairs staff; and the demonstrated ability to work effectively with a diverse range of students, professional staff, faculty, senior administrative colleagues, other campus constituents, parents, and local organizations and neighbors.


Position Summary

Reporting to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, the Dean of Students is a visible and engaged advocate with and for all students on the Pittsburgh campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The Dean of Students assists the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in the leadership and administration of the Division of Student Affairs. The Dean provides leadership for innovative co-curricular programs, activities, and services that promote student well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, diverse learning experiences, and prepare students for success at Pitt and in the global community. The Dean of Students is responsible for the strategic direction and management of the Office of the Dean of Students, Student Care and Outreach, and the Offices of Residence Life, Student Life, New Student Programs, PittServes, and Cross Cultural and Leadership Development, which includes Fraternity and Sorority Life.

The Dean of Students plays a key role in visioning, supporting, and advancing the mission and priorities of the Division of Student Affairs and the University’s strategic plan, and advocates for a student-centered institutional focus. The Dean of Students works with and assists undergraduate and graduate/professional students and student leaders by listening and responding to student issues and concerns; maintaining a visible presence on campus; and serving as a liaison between students and the larger institution. The Dean manages budgets, personnel, and other resources; guides, supports, and evaluates department managers and office staff; and develops collaborative partnerships with campus stakeholders in support of student development, engagement, and well-being. 


Key Responsibilities

  • Engages with and advocates for students and their concerns to support their individual and collective success; ensures visibility, accessibility, and approachability with students.
  • Provides vision, leadership, and supervision to offices within the portfolio to promote a high quality of student life and development; manages personnel, budgets, and other resources.
  • Understands and actively supports a community that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion and expects the same of the Dean’s staff.
  • Collaborates with members of the campus community to advance programs, initiatives, and policies.
  • Represents the division in a variety of capacities, including serving on assigned committees.
  • Advises the Vice Provost on student, staff, and community issues, such as: policies and procedures; equity, diversity, and inclusion; co-curricular program development; campus climate; town-gown relations; campus religious and spiritual life; and student behavior.
  • Works closely with colleagues across schools and campuses to address the needs of all students (undergraduate and graduate/professional). 
  • Educates the campus community regarding mental health issues, resources, and appropriate responses and continually improves mental health services available to students based on best practices and standards.
  • Provides leadership and guidance in response to crises—in concert with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and other appropriate staff—and supports students, staff, and families in these situations.
  • Serves as deputy to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and represents the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in the Vice Provost’s absence, as requested.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in college student personnel, educational leadership, counseling, or a related field.
  • Eight or more years of experience in roles demonstrating increasing levels of leadership and supervisory responsibility in complex, demanding, and fast-paced higher education environments.
  • Effective leadership and crisis management skills.
  • Knowledge of and/or experience with student conduct policies, Title IX regulations, FERPA, and residential campus environments.
  • Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to the importance of inclusive excellence as a cornerstone of a just, equitable, and diverse community.


Preferred Qualification

  • An earned doctorate in college student personnel, higher education management, counseling, psychology, or a related field.


Desired Characteristics

  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, or with minimal supervision, and to make transparent, responsible, informed, data-driven decisions.
  • Superior interpersonal skills and a commitment to building trust and fostering genuine, positive relationships with undergraduate and graduate/professional students, staff, faculty, alumni, and other constituents.
  • Ability to be agile and respond appropriately in exceptionally challenging times and in ambiguous situations. 
  • Knowledge of current and emerging issues and best practices in higher education and interest in driving innovation in student affairs. 
  • Shared commitment to the University’s values of equity, diversity, inclusion, and respect for all, and an understanding of the needs of a highly diverse and rapidly changing student body at both the undergraduate and graduate/professional levels.
  • Strong grasp of diversity, equity, and inclusion competencies.
  • Outstanding listening and written and verbal communication skills.
  • Exceptional judgment and the ability to make informed decisions and recommendations with the highest levels of integrity, fairness, and ethical standards.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others and to find common ground.
  • Capacity to envision new possibilities for Student Affairs in a post-pandemic environment.


About the University of Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh

Founded in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh is one of the largest and oldest institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania and is a member of the Association of American Universities. With an enrollment of more than 28,000 students on its main campus, Pitt is internationally respected as a center for learning and research that is consistently ranked by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings as the top public university in the Northeast. More than 13,600 faculty, research associates, and staff members are employed on the Pittsburgh campus, and another 800 work at the University’s four regional campuses across Western Pennsylvania. Pitt offers generous benefits and values work-life balance. 

The 132-acre main campus, in the vibrant and beautiful Oakland neighborhood, is co-located with the University’s health sciences schools and multiple hospitals. Pitt has served as an integral partner and key player in driving the growth of the education and health services super sector in the Pittsburgh metropolitan region. The University ranks in the top five in funded projects from the National Institutes of Health and in the top two in funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. 

The University views the city as an extension of its campus. Pittsburgh is in the midst of a remarkable transformation from an industrial capital to a center of education, research, and innovation. Pitt actively engages with the surrounding community through its Community Engagement Centers, community-driven partnerships, and volunteer service. Since March 2020, more than 600 faculty, staff, and students have joined community efforts serving Pittsburgh area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The University was recently awarded the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement in recognition of its institutional commitment to community engagement. 

The city of Pittsburgh hosts a high concentration of diverse and influential nonprofits and, as an international center of emerging information technology, is home to companies such as Duolingo, one of Google’s national offices, a Facebook Reality Lab, and multiple autonomous vehicle development efforts. The city also has a long history in banking and manufacturing and is becoming a leader in advanced manufacturing technologies and nanotechnology.

While still a work in progress, the city’s reinvention since its days as a smoky steel town has received national acclaim. LinkedIn named Pittsburgh a top city to launch a career, and U.S. News & World Report lists it as a top place to retire. With an extensive network of urban parks, as well as world-class arts and cultural intuitions, in 2019 The Economist named Pittsburgh the third “most livable city” in the United States. Pittsburgh has all of the advantages of a large city in combination with the friendliness of the Midwest and the cultural sophistication of the East Coast. 


Application Procedure and Timeline

The University has partnered with Keeling & Associates, LLC, in this search process. Application materials should include a resume and a letter of interest and must be sent to recruiting@keelingassociates.com. The subject line of the email should read “Pitt–Dean.” All materials submitted by April 23, 2021, 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 Jeff Ewing (JFEwing@KeelingAssociates.com), the Keeling & Associates senior consultant leading this search. 

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity and diversity. EOE, including disability/vets.

Download a copy of the position profile, click here.