The Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Utah is the Senior Student Affairs Officer, providing visionary leadership and modeling outstanding partnerships throughout the University, Salt Lake City and the state of Utah. Reporting to the President, and representing the Division of Student Affairs as a member of the Cabinet, the Vice President leads initiatives to provide the highest quality programs and services for student success and wellbeing.

The University of Utah, the state’s flagship campus, serves more than 32,000 students and the Vice President must have outstanding knowledge and expertise aligned with the broad and demanding Student Affairs portfolio. Visible leadership experience in an environment with a highly competitive student body, the ability to build extensive relationships on and off campus, and an outstanding foundation in Student Affairs and higher education are necessary for successful applicants. Appreciation of past successes of the Division combined with excellent imagination about the future needs and expectations of a growing student body is required. Strong expertise, creativity, and a willingness to foster and support innovation will position the new Vice President to meet the changing needs at the University while building upon and creating a dynamic experience for students at all levels.

Leading a staff of 30 departments and more than 300 professional staff, the Vice President’s commitment to excellence and diversity is an essential hallmark for Student Affairs. The Vice President provides student advocacy, demonstrates a commitment to inclusion and equity, and develops strong alliances with other divisions and departments at the University. The University’s goals and aspirations are lived through the leadership team, students, faculty, and staff at all levels. The Vice President will be expected to embrace change and continued institutional excellence.

University of Utah

The University of Utah is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as one of 81 public Research 1 (Highest Research) universities. The University is the oldest university and largest public university in the state, enrolling graduate and undergraduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The University has the only School of Medicine in the state and its University Hospital is the finest medical-care facility in the Intermountain West.  With revenues in excess of $4.4 billion (FY18), the University is one of Utah’s primary economic engines. The academic program offers a broad range of study through its 18 colleges, many of which are nationally recognized for leadership in their fields.

The University is located on a beautiful campus of 1,500 acres in Salt Lake City, a cosmopolitan city where there is true balance of life, including access to the finest outdoor recreational activities and cultural pursuits.

The University of Utah fosters student success by preparing students from diverse backgrounds for lives of impact as leaders and citizens. We generate and share new knowledge, discoveries and innovations, and we engage local and global communities to promote education, health and quality of life. These contributions, in addition to responsible stewardship of our intellectual, physical and financial resources, ensure the long-term success and viability of the institution. 

President Ruth V. Watkins became the 16th President of the University of Utah in April 2018. She had served as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Utah since August 2013. She has been an advocate for advancing the success and impact of the U as a top-tier research university, including enhancing student success through degree completion and expanding research and creative activity. The University of Utah is governed by a Board of Trustees who determine the University’s general policies, including the establishment of new schools and colleges; makes laws for its government; manages its investments; and directs the expenditure of its funds.   

The University of Utah is now in its eighth year as a member of the Pac-12 athletic conference. The move has been met with great enthusiasm from students, alumni, and fans everywhere. Beyond strengthening Utah’s athletic programs and profile, joining the Pac-12 has aligned the U with an academically powerful collection of institutions.

A distinctive aspect of the University of Utah has been its commitment to supporting the needs of its neighbors and surrounding communities. Two key initiatives enable this outreach. University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) links seven ethnically and culturally rich Salt Lake City neighborhoods with the University of Utah to create pathways to higher education. The partnerships address issues of race, ethnicity, religion, political views, and geography that are important to understand on the journey to higher education. Additionally, the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center fosters lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the University with the greater community in action, change, and learning. Each year more than 8,600 U students, staff, faculty, and alumni provide nearly 179,000 hours of service with community and nonprofit organizations through direct volunteer work and service-learning opportunities.

Salt Lake City and Utah

At an elevation of 4,330 feet above sea level, the University is set on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley. To the west stretches the entire valley, to the east the towering mountains of the Wasatch Range. The University is located in incorporated Salt Lake City, which has a population of 193,744 people; the city sits at the north end of Salt Lake Valley, which has a population of 1,153,340. Beyond that, the entire Wasatch Front, from Provo north to Ogden (with Salt Lake in the middle) encompasses well over 2.3 million people. 

Frequently listed by national magazines and websites among the “best places to live” due to a variety of factors including recreational options, the business environment, climate, and a low crime rate, Salt Lake City is the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the United States. With 4.7 percent of Salt Lake City’s adult population identifying as LGBT, the state capital now rates as one of the top 10 places where LGBT people live in the United States. Ranking between the Los Angeles and Boston metro areas, Salt Lake City comes in at No. 7 in population percentage on a list of top 50 U.S. metro areas for the LGBT community, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. San Francisco and Portland secured the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively.

Utahns spend much of their time outdoors. In 2018, Utah became the first state to earn three stars in the iconic Michelin guide for being an exceptional destination.  From campus, seven world-renowned ski resorts are just 30 minutes away. Five National Parks are within a five-hour drive. Forty golf courses are strategically located throughout the valley and nearby mountains. Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails can be accessed just to the east of campus. For a quick getaway, the historic mining town of Park City, home to the Sundance Film Festival, is just a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake. 

Beyond the state, Los Angeles is a 10-hour drive to the southwest, Las Vegas five and half hours due south. Boise is four and a half hours to the north, and Denver is eight hours to the east.

Position Summary

The Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) is a vital part of the University of Utah’s leadership team and reports directly to President Ruth Watkins. The VPSA is responsible for supporting students from the U.S. and around the world by championing the University’s mission, vision, and values in higher education. The successful candidate will work closely with campus leaders to develop and sustain an integrated and robust program and portfolio of services with the goal of positioning the University and its students for future success. It is critical for the University to attract and retain a talented and diverse student body to support its strategic and long-term goal of providing students with both an exceptional undergraduate academic experience and a rich student life that promotes their individual personal growth and prepares them to be responsible and productive members of society.

The VPSA provides leadership and advice in all matters related to student affairs and student life. The VPSA works closely with the Cabinet, campus leaders, faculty and across all areas of the campus to develop and implement strategies that relate to student affairs at a large public research institution in an urban campus. The offices and functions that currently report to the VPSA include, but are not limited to, the Office of the Dean of Students (and affiliated responsibilities such as Conduct and the Behavioral Intervention Team), Campus Recreation Services, the University Union, Child Care & Family Resources, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Student Leadership & Involvement, Housing & Residential Education, Dining Services, Personal Money Management Center, University Guesthouse & Conference Center, Bennion Community Center, University Counseling Center, Career & Professional Development Center, Center for Disability & Access, LGBT Resource Center, Student Health Center, Center for Student Wellness, TRIO, Veteran Support Center, Women’s Resource Center, Office of Inclusive Excellence, Undergraduate Advancement, and Student Affairs Assessment Evaluation & Research. The VPSA also provides supervision of the Dean of Students at the University of Utah’s campus in South Korea. The VPSA plays a critical role in the advancement and development of the University of Utah and the exceptional student experiences on the campus. 

Areas under Enrollment Management (Admissions, Scholarships & Financial Aid, Orientation, and Registrar) report directly to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs with a dotted line to the VPSA.

Essential Functions and Duties

  1. Provide leadership, supervision, support and guidance to the staff and directors of all areas that report to the position.
  2. Articulate the vision and values of the Student Affairs network.
  3. Differentiate roles and coordinate functions within Student Affairs.
  4. Provide budgetary oversight for all offices in Student Affairs and allocate resources appropriately.
  5. Analyze and evaluate annual strategic goals and programs related to student affairs and provide oversight for the implementation of the short range and long-range plan for Student Affairs.
  6. Demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills, capable of competently presenting the University’s mission and vision to potential students and supporters of the University.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to interact with and relate to students of varying ages, backgrounds and education levels.
  8. Provide advocacy for students across campus, within Student Affairs and within the President’s Cabinet.
  9. Support and encourage an inclusive campus community that responds to the diversity of the student population.
  10. Utilize data and analytics to help lead and guide the Student Affairs efforts.
  11. Establish, implement and monitor program evaluation systems for all programs and services within the area of responsibility.
  12. Support and build relationships with other campus leaders and find solutions to concerns across administrative lines.
  13. Collaborate with key stakeholders on fundraising and development efforts.
  14. Work closely with the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs in the coordination of student academic issues.
  15. Work closely with the Chief Financial Officer in the coordination of student financial issues and budgetary issues.
  16. Participate as a member of the President’s Cabinet.
  17. Perform other appropriate duties as assigned by the President.


  • A Master’s or other advanced degree is required; a Doctorate strongly preferred.
  • The position requires a visionary leader with a strategic and innovative focus for campus student affairs and services.
  • The selected individual should have a proven record of at least 10 years of administrative experience in higher education with extensive, demonstrated examples of exemplary leadership of student affairs and services and increased responsibility.
  • The Vice President should demonstrate a commitment to and experience with initiatives addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The Vice President must possess a collaborative approach to working with other administrators and campus leaders to address student and institutional needs.
  • Applicants should also be committed to sustaining a close relationship with Academic Affairs and the Office of Enrollment Management.
  • Experience working at a mid to large public institution is desired.

Application Process

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, preferably as PDFs, to The subject line of the email should read “University of Utah — VPSA.”  

A confidential review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the appointment is made. All materials submitted by February 22, 2019 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 Dr. Jan Walbert (, the K&A senior consultant leading this search.

The University of Utah is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and is committed to diversity in its workforce. In compliance with applicable federal and state laws, University of Utah policy of equal employment opportunity prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran’s status, status as a qualified person with a disability, or genetic information. Individuals from historically underrepresented groups, such as minorities, women, qualified persons with disabilities, and protected veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. Veterans’ preference is extended to qualified applicants, upon request and consistent with University policy and Utah state law.

Reasonable accommodations in the application process will be provided to qualified individuals with disabilities. To request an accommodation or for further information about University AA/EO policies, please contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 201 S. Presidents Cr., Rm 135, (801) 581 – 8365 (V/ TDD ), email:

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