Visionary, Experienced, and Inspiring Leader for Student Life

St. Olaf College announces a national search for a Vice President for Student Life who will provide energy, vision, and leadership to enhance campus wide efforts to engage students in the life of the College in ways that support their learning, well-being, and success. Working closely with all members of the campus community, the Vice President will apply best practices to support and supplement existing programs in order to ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to pursue their academic interests in a welcoming, safe, and intellectually challenging environment that lives the College’s mission.

“St. Olaf College challenges students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition.”

The new Vice President for Student Life will possess the experience, education, and passion necessary to address the needs of students at a small, residential liberal arts college. The successful candidate will join and lead a team of dedicated professionals in their efforts to develop meaningful relationships and innovative programs that will make a positive difference in the lives of students and the College by promoting well-being, open dialogue with kindness and grace, and a safe community in which all can learn and grow.

The College

St. Olaf College, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, offers a distinctive education grounded in a rigorous academic program, a vital residential community of learners, a commitment to global engagement that fosters broadened worldviews, and a vibrant faith tradition that encourages reflection and honors different perspectives. St. Olaf graduates are fully prepared to make a meaningful difference in a changing world.

St. Olaf’s beautiful 300-acre campus is home to 3,000 students from nearly every state and more than 80 countries. St. Olaf offers over 85 majors, concentrations, and academic programs. Students participate in large numbers in the nation’s leading study abroad program, engage in more than 200 student organizations and Division III athletic programs, and network with alumni to create internship, service, and research opportunities.

The Northfield Community

St. Olaf College is located in Northfield, Minnesota, approximately 40 miles south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The College shares Northfield with Carleton College, which provides opportunities for both collaboration and athletic rivalry. The combined student populations create a vibrant community that allows for greater growth and learning.

Downtown Northfield has been restored to its nineteenth-century appearance, with coffeehouses, restaurants, and art galleries, and has been identified as one of the “50 Most Beautiful Small Towns” by Country Living magazine. The area is the home of the 850-acre Cannon River Wilderness Area, with hiking trails and campsites. The Northfield Lines Metro Express provides transportation between St. Olaf, Carleton and multiple Twin Cities stops, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


The Vice President for Student Life (VPSL) provides: strategic oversight for all staff and programs within Student Life; advice and counsel to the President and other members of the President’s Leadership Team; visible and engaged support to students, individually and collectively; and clear and confident direction for the community as it addresses issues of inclusion, equity, and student success. The VPSL is expected to engage in collaborative planning processes, incorporating best practices in the field, with the intent of developing new or refining current programs and processes that enhance the student experience and support student retention and graduation.

The VPSL reports directly to the President and serves as a member of the President’s Leadership Team. As the senior student affairs officer for the College, the VPSL oversees, directly or indirectly through the Dean of Students, the following areas: Counseling Center, Posse Program, Public Safety, Residence Life, Student Activities, Student Health Services, and the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE). CMIE provides advocacy, support, and programmatic engagement for the College’s domestically diverse and international student populations and includes the Gender and Sexuality Office, which provides support and programs for the College’s LGBTQ population. The shift of CMIE to the Vice President’s portfolio emphasizes the intent to infuse issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout campus life through both direct supervision and partnerships with other senior College leaders.

The primary responsibilities and expectations of the Vice President for Student Life are listed below.

  • Create and implement a vision and strategy toward the goal of enhancing student learning and well-being through effectiveness, sustainability and accountability across all areas of Student Life. 
  • Apply best practices in all areas of Student Life while seeking innovative approaches to responding to and supporting student engagement, learning, success, and well-being.
  • Provide collaborative leadership in efforts to increase student success, including creating strategies to increase retention and graduation rates and developing processes to predict and improve outcomes.   
  • Collaborate closely with faculty and staff to achieve the College’s shared goals for students’ academic and residential thriving at the college.
  • Support and encourage a campus community that is inclusive and equitable, and one in which students can share their voice in ways consistent with the College’s mission and values.
  • Engage regularly with students and be visible on campus; actively participate in campus life including developing collaborative relationships with faculty and others.
  • Facilitate and/or assist with College-wide responses to crises and provide support to students and families in emergency situations.
  • Lead and manage, directly and indirectly, the staff and programs within Student Life.
  • Serve as an advisor and partner to the President and other senior institutional leaders, especially on issues related to student life.
  • Serve as the senior student affairs officer for the College with full responsibility for the personnel, budgets, and programs in Student Life.
  • Advocate for student-centered approaches in institutional policies and strategic planning.
  • Provide leadership and insight in support of student conduct priorities and as appropriate in Title IX responsibilities for the College.


To be successful, the next Vice President for Student Life at St. Olaf College will need to be a true partner to all members of the community in its efforts to live the mission and values of the College. A strong and demonstrated commitment to best practices, collaboration, fostering an inclusive community, strategy, vision, staff development, and, most importantly, students and their success will be traits required in the candidate selected for this role. The VPSL must understand the dual roles of senior administrator engaged as a part of the team setting the direction for the College and being a visible and accessible student resource and advocate.

  • Advanced degree, preferably a doctorate, in Student Affairs, higher education administration, or other relevant field.
  • Substantial and progressively more responsible and accountable leadership and administrative experience in Student Affairs or direct or related experience working closely with students over a period of at least 5, preferably 10, years.
    • Experience in one or more of the functional areas within the portfolio preferred.
    • Significant experience supervising professional staff.
    • Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
    • Proven track record of fostering and managing change, including process improvement, and developing and implementing effective and efficient policies and processes.
    • Demonstrated ability to create opportunities for partnership and collaboration between Student Life and other campus constituencies in the interest of enhancing student success.
    • Strong communication (written and oral) skills that provide clear messages and facilitate effective conflict resolution and mediation, and the ability to build and sustain strong professional relationships across campus.
    • Experience with and understanding of relevant policies and processes related to student conduct and Title IX.
    • Understanding of and appreciation for a residential liberal arts college environment.
    • Ability to understand and work within an inclusive academic community that values its history and faith while encouraging students from all backgrounds to discover what is meaningful and worthwhile to them.

Application Procedure and Timeline

St. Olaf College has partnered with Keeling & Associates, LLC, for this search. Application materials should include a resume and a letter of interest and must be sent to The subject line of the email should read “St. Olaf College.” A confidential review of applications will begin on June 8, 2018 and all materials submitted by that date will receive full consideration.

Confidential nominations, expressions of interest, and requests for conversations about the position prior to application are welcome and should be directed to Dr. Jan Walbert, Vice President and Senior Consultant for Executive Search, at

St. Olaf College is an equal employment opportunity and voluntary affirmative action employer.  The College is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our community.  With regard to its hiring and employment practices, the College prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment based upon an individual’s legally protected status including race, color, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, or status with regard to public assistance.

To download the position profile, Click here.