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Vice President of Student Affairs

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The Opportunity

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) seeks an experienced and innovative leader to serve as its Vice President for Student Affairs. The next VPSA will join NKU at a pivotal moment in its history. President Ashish Vaidya and the faculty and staff have purposely examined all aspects of the university's operations and reaffirmed their commitment to the strategic plan "Success by Design" as they prepare for a safe and flexible return to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year. Although the exact details cannot be fully known, the University is clear that its mission of offering high levels of regional engagement while generating scholarly and creative endeavors in an environment that is committed to student success will move forward unabated. This is a transformational leadership opportunity for an ambitious, visionary student affairs leader to join an institution with a deep and strategic commitment to its emergence as a "student-ready" University.

Apply or Nominate  Proccedure for Candidacy

Northern Kentucky University student "Norsing Up"
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Search Committee


Ken Bothof (chair)
Director of Athletics
bothofk1@nku.edu

Robert Alston
Director - Student Conduct, Rights & Advocacy
alstonr1@nku.edu

James Buss
Dean, Honors College
bussj1@nku.edu

Susannah Coaston
Faculty, Assistant Professor- Counseling
coastons1@nku.edu

Mia Derks
Student
derksm1@mymail.nku.edu

Joshua Kelly
Student Media Services
kellyj18@mymail.nku.edu

Cecile Marczinski
Chair- Psychological Science Department
marczinskc1@nku.edu

Ryan Padgett
Asst. VP, Enrollment & Student Success
padgettr1@nku.edu

Amal Said
Faculty- Accounting & Business Law
saida1@nku.edu

Diana Wallace
Counselor
wallaced5@nku.edu

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An entrepreneurial state university located in the northern Kentucky/Cincinnati metropolitan area, NKU is committed to instilling passion in its students that will lead them to greater community engagement, fulfilling careers, and meaningful lives. This commitment has been a driving force as the University has expanded academic offerings and advanced new experiential learning opportunities. The NKU community reflects on the past five decades of growth with pride and, more recently, celebrates the founding of two new colleges; the construction of several new buildings, including a state-of-the-art Health Innovation Center; and the successful establishment of a Division I athletics program.

NKU seeks a strategic and experienced student affairs leader who takes initiative and has the collaborative and interpersonal skills to operate effectively with multiple constituencies and achieve results. The Vice President will possess a history of successful implementation and demonstrated evidence of collaboration across all parts of campus. NKU seeks a candidate to provide a fully integrated student experience by working across the University with a particular focus on Academic Affairs. The Vice President reports to President Ashish Vaidya, Ph.D.

The Vice President supervises a talented and dedicated staff who oversee the following units:

  • Student Conduct and Engagement, including the departments of Campus Recreation; Fraternity and Sorority Life; Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy; Student Engagement; Student Union and Programming; and University Housing.
  • Student Inclusiveness, including the departments of African American Student Initiatives; Disability Programs and Services; Health, Counseling, and Student Wellness; Latino Programs and Services; Parents Attending College; LGBTQ Programs and Services; Upward Bound; and the Norse Violence Prevention Center.
  • Campus Safety, including the University Police Department, Crime Prevention, and compliance with state and national requirements such as the Clery Act, Minger Act, the Annual Security Reports, and Timely Warnings.

The Vice President will be a creative thinker who will bring to the University a deep knowledge of best practices in student affairs and a belief in the essential link between diversity and excellence. The successful candidate will have 10 or more years of leadership experience in student affairs and a particular interest in and commitment to working in partnership with faculty and academic affairs colleagues. The Vice President will have served in progressively responsible supervisory and administrative positions and will understand the culture of student life on a campus with a significant commuting population. The Vice President will be a bridge-builder with the faculty and colleagues in Academic Affairs and will have created and implemented partnership programs with academic colleagues. The Vice President will also demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between academic and co-curricular life; experience with the role of student affairs in a University-wide student success effort; and the diplomatic and leadership skills to work effectively with a highly functioning University leadership team. An earned doctorate is preferred; however, candidates with a depth of experience in the field and appropriate professional credentials will be given full consideration. A Master’s degree is required.

To submit a nomination or express personal interest in this position, please see Procedure for Candidacy on page 15.

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Role of the Vice President for Student Affairs

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Northern Kentucky University's next vice president for student affairs will have the opportunity to lead a talented and ambitious student affairs division toward a coordinated and coherent vision for student-centered programs and services designed to meet the needs of a growing and changing population of students. The University's strategic plan "Success by Design" (view plan) guides the work of the division. NKU’s Success by Design strategic framework was developed "entirely around a singular focus: student success. NKU’s success as a university and regional partner is determined by its students’ success." Working within this commitment to student success as a strategic centerpiece allows the Vice President for Student Affairs the rare opportunity to organize the student affairs operation around this compelling priority.

NKU seeks a strategic and visionary student affairs leader who takes initiative and has the stamina and interpersonal skills to operate strategically and effectively and achieve results. Reporting to the President, the Vice President for Student Affairs provides direct leadership over major units of the university that include the following functions:

  1. Student Conduct, Rights and Advocacy, including the departments of Campus Recreation Fraternity and Sorority Life, Health, Counseling, and Student Wellness, Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities, Student Engagement, Student Union and Programming, and University Housing;
  2. Student Inclusiveness, including the departments of African American Student Initiatives, Disability Programs and Services, Latino Programs and Services, Parents Attending College, LGBTQ Programs and Services, and Upward Bound; and
  3. Campus Safety including the University Police Department, Crime Prevention, Violence Prevention Center, and compliance with state and national requirements such as the Clery Act, Minger Act, the Annual Security Reports, and Timely Warnings.

The Vice President for Student Affairs will serve as a trusted advisor to the President and a key member of the President’s senior leadership team. This position works with other major divisions across the campus to form collaborative partnerships in the interest of student achievement and success, to enrich and enhance student curricular and co-curricular experience.

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Students Graduating
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NKU's Griffin Hall at dusk with colorful lights.

Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership

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The Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) will bring energy, vision, entrepreneurial thinking and coherence to the division of Student Affairs. The Vice President will support a talented and committed staff eager for innovation and direction. The student affairs staff works hard to enhance the student experience, support academic success and elevate the profile of student life at the University of Northern Kentucky. The Vice President will possess the intellectual vision and motivation necessary to lead as a member of the senior administration of a growing and changing University, committed to its role as a "steward of place" in the region. The University has committed its many intellectual and community resources toward the goal of serving as the engine of economic growth for this region of the state. Northern Kentucky University, therefore, aspires to be a "student-ready" university, committed to developing in its curricular, co-curricular and student support programs and services a full set of options for student engagement and success, as well as improving its results on persistence to graduation. This ambitious agenda requires that the student affairs leader be a person of stature and experience in the field with a strong desire to join President Vaidya's leadership team and fully engage in the strategic priorities of the University.

The activities and support structures that operate under the purview of the Vice President for Student Affairs help prepare NKU students to live and thrive in a growing global society by expanding their capacities as leaders and citizens. The VPSA will therefore play a key role galvanizing campus leadership to create the optimal conditions for student success and well-being. The VPSA will be skilled in understanding and utilizing proven strategies to navigate organizational structures and will hold a deep commitment to collaboration, relational leadership and external engagement outside of both the division and the institution. An understanding and appreciation of the role of the regional public university will be an important element in advancing the student-centered priorities and initiatives of the division and the institution.

More specifically, the Vice President for Student Affairs will address the following critical leadership issues, among others:

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Enhance the partnership with Academic Affairs to increase the coherence of the educational experience 

The vice president will have demonstrated experience building strategic and successful partnerships with the faculty and academic affairs administrators in support of student success. The vice president will be a pro-active communicator and will seek partners among faculty and academic affairs colleagues. The VPSA will engage in efforts to ensure that a deep commitment to the student experience is recognized as a shared goal between the divisions and more broadly across the institution. Reflecting experience and success in developing and valuing partnerships with faculty members, deans and academic affairs administrators, the VPSA will work across boundaries to eliminate barriers to completion for students and to make the NKU experience as student-centered as possible. The issues on which the Division of Student Affairs has established programs and competencies (e.g., disability services; student mental health issues, including classroom behavioral issues; violence prevention; support for tutoring and other student services) will be widely publicized and shared with faculty and academic affairs colleagues in a spirit of partnership and collaboration.


Collaborate with campus partners for a responsive, communicative and engaged division

The vice president will lead the collective effort to ensure that a deep commitment to the student experience and success is the shared goal of all staff and faculty members across the organization. The Division of Student Affairs will work collaboratively to provide a student-centered experience for a richly diverse community representing students at various stages of their personal, academic and professional endeavors. The vice president must be an active participant in campus dialogue, visibly present and engaged in the agenda items most critical to the student experience. To this end, the vice president will engage on campus and through communication channels as a champion of the student experience and an advocate for programs and policies to support the strategic plan and the work of the division.


Ensure that a "best practice" student affairs program, which supports the Strategic Plan, is at the forefront of a NKU education and is integrated with all facets of the NKU student experience

The University's ambitious strategic plan "Success by Design" (view plan) is the signature program of President Ashish Vaidya's tenure at the University. The plan has generated considerable enthusiasm and support for its student-centered strategy and its commitment to position the University as an engine of a revitalized local and regional economy. The three pillars of the plan are access, completion, and career and community engagement. This strategic framework offers the next vice president the ideal "canvas" to design a student affairs program to respond to the complex array of issues present in the richly diverse student population at NKU. The Vice President will have the opportunity to work directly with the staff in student affairs to assess current policies and practices to ensure their alignment with the strategy and plans for their implementation.


Demonstrate a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion

Northern Kentucky University fosters an inclusive, welcoming environment that encourages individuals and groups to learn and work within and across diverse communities. Approximately twenty percent of the student body identify as students of color and sixty percent of NKU students are the first in their family to attend college. The University emphasizes awareness, respect and education about cultural identity and recognizes that its goal to serve as "stewards of place" includes embracing the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the students, faculty and staff of the University.


Strategically manage the fiscal and human resources of the Division of Student Affairs

As the University works to ensure its sustainable future, the expectations for prudent management of resources is paramount. The Vice President for Student Affairs will have experience with residential projections, construction projects, fee-based programs and services and annual budgets and will collaborate with the Vice President for Finance to ensure that the resources managed by Student Affairs are used effectively to advance the University's goals.

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Professional Qualifications and Personal Qualities

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NKU's Vice President for Student Affairs will be a student-centered, innovative, and collaborative leader who embraces forward-thinking strategies to continually reimagine and foster a modern student affairs division, meeting and exceeding the needs of today's NKU students. The ideal candidate will have the following professional qualifications and personal qualities:
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Campus building
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Search Timeline*

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  • Summer-Early Fall: Aggressive, active national recruiting; screening, and interviewing of candidates by WittKieffer.
  • Fall: Candidate recruitment and preliminary screening; Semifinalist interviews
  • Late Fall: Finalist interviews; Recommendations to President; Finalist Selection and Negotiations

*This timeline is a general guideline and subject to change.

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Procedure for Candidacy

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All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in this profile.

WittKieffer is assisting Northern Kentucky University in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by August 5, 2020.

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to: NKUVPSA@wittkieffer.com. More information available at WittKieffer's website.

Sheila Murphy and Jen Meyers Pickard, Ph.D. are the consultants supporting this search. They can be reached through Shalonda Alleyne, Executive Search Coordinator, at 630-575-6157.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) seeks excellence by enriching its educational environment and culture through the diversity of its administration, faculty and staff and by embracing inclusiveness, equity, and global awareness in all dimensions of its work. NKU is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access/Affirmative Action institution. We encourage applications by members of diverse groups and by persons with a demonstrated commitment to issues of diversity and experience in achieving goals relative to inclusive excellence.

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Student speaker during Innovation Challenge program of Success By Design
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