Administration, Education, Higher Education

Assistant Vice President for Residential Planning and Programs

  • Colgate University
  • Hamilton, NY
Company Overview

Colgate University invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of Assistant Vice President for Residential Planning and Programs.

Colgate University is a highly selective liberal arts institution known for its intellectual rigor, world-class professors, campus of stunning beauty, and alumni famously loyal to their alma mater. Ranked among the top twenty liberal arts colleges in the country by US News & World Report, Colgate offers a challenging academic environment and close contact with faculty and staff. Receiving recored number of applications for three years in a row, the University is poised for continued excellence and growth in his third century.  Established in 1819, the University seeks to continue its tradition of academic excellence with a comprehensive Third-Century Plan designed to take the institution into the next century. Providing over 55 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, Colgate is a residential college and enrolls 3,000 students representing 50 states and 74 countries. The University is located in Hamilton, New York, recognized as one of the country’s most friendly towns, and set within one hour driving time of Syracuse and Utica. Colgate University was named in 2021 and again in 2022 as one of the Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs by ACPA, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and Inside HigherEd.

You can learn more about working in the Dean of the College Division at Colgate by visiting this guide for candidates.

Role Summary

Residential Life at Colgate consists of the Residential Commons, upper-level, University-owned fraternity and sorority chapter houses, and special interest housing. The Assistant Vice President for Residential Planning and Programs (AVP) will oversee a vibrant residential education program that promotes student learning and growth and fosters a living-learning experience that integrates students’ intellectual, social, cultural, and emotional development. The AVP has significant responsibility for ensuring the success of the Residential Commons, including continuing to develop visioning and assessment of the program while fully leveraging the collaborative interactions with faculty and academic departments. Working with Dean of the College staff colleagues and other key campus departments (admission; Facilities; University Communications; and Advancement), the AVP will help shape and fulfill Colgate’s Third Century Plan goals for students’ campus experiences.

Reporting to the Vice President and Dean of the College, the Assistant Vice President for Residential Planning and Programs provides strategic leadership for residential programs, services, operations, and facilities that enhance students’ residential experience at Colgate University. A primary focus of this AVP role is advancing the residential capital planning, including renewal, replacement, renovations, and new construction associated with Colgate’s Third Century Plan for residential life. The AVP will be a critical partner to the Dean of the College and University’s senior leadership with these transformative projects. The AVP will also work directly with Facilities colleagues, including a dedicated project manager, to advance the design and construction of multiple and complex residential facility renovations and new construction projects.

The AVP supervises the Director of Residence Life and her professional and student staff.  With direct and indirect oversight for a team of 10 full-time professional staff and 75 student residence life staff, the AVP will serve as a thought partner to the director and her team and work to fully leverage Colgate’s residential liberal arts experience.

Leadership Opportunities

As part of its Third Century Plan, Colgate University has embarked on a bold and transformative long-term plan for residential life at Colgate.  The comprehensive plan for a four-year residential system at Colgate represents a reimagining of Colgate’s residential system by fully leveraging the Residential Commons and transforming the junior and senior residential experience to fully support and connect to all students.

With enthusiastic support from the Board of Trustees, Colgate University now has a once-in-a-century opportunity, as it also addresses needed housing replacements and improvements, to create a four-year residential model that will attract leading students and allow its students to form a meaningful, inclusive residential community that will bind them one-to-another, and also to their alma mater as alumni. The long-term residential plan for lower campus is integrated and inclusive and will support students’ academic priorities and social lives through the creation of study and social spaces in addition to residential settings conducive to building community.

Beginning in 2015, Colgate launched a system of Residential Commons, “up the hill,” to provide every first-year and sophomore student with a greater sense of belonging through small residential communities that combine social and academic programming.  The first-year and sophomore residence halls are currently arrayed as four residential commons, each with faculty and staff directors, and with connected academic and social programming. Each student is assigned to a small First-Year Seminar (FSEM) and subsequently assigned first-year housing such that they live and study with peers in these intimate, discussion-based courses. The Residential Commons have proven to be of significant benefit to students—a greater sense of belonging is reported, and a deeper connection between academic and social life obtained.  Faculty regularly interact with students and Residential Commons provide an earlier sense of belonging and connection during students’ first two years at Colgate.

Down the hill, Colgate juniors and seniors are arrayed in a series of apartments, townhouses, and houses located along Broad and College Streets. While most of this housing provides a greater sense of independence for students as they look forward to transition to life after Colgate, these residences are now ready to be renewed to meet current students’ contemporary needs. In addition, new construction of residences along Broad Street will produce an intentional and coherent residential experience that seeks to transform and connect the junior and senior experience for all students.

Colgate’s long-term plan for residential life offers all Colgate students the chance for community and connection, a place where one belongs. For a University deeply committed to inclusivity and equity, the long-term plan outlined here will bring the best version of Colgate to all who come to its campus.  The AVP will work with the VP and Dean of the College to help shape and realize this vision, from programming and staffing to capital project management.

The AVP for Residential Planning and Programs will work closely with University leadership and the Vice President and Dean of the College to assess trends and to provide a world-class, sustainable residential infrastructure to support the needs of today’s undergraduates.  As a high-impact practice, living-learning programs and Colgate’s Residential Commons are central to the well-rounded residential liberal arts education that Colgate provides.  The AVP will work in partnership with faculty and staff colleagues to continued enhancing the programs in place while also helping to advance the long-term residential plan to connect the junior and senior year experience in ways that provide a complementary and developmental corollary to the residential experience students have during their first two years at Colgate.

Through renovations, renewals, and new construction of more than 25 residences over the next decade, this is an exciting opportunity for an experienced leader to help shape the residential experience for students in Colgate’s third century.

Primary Responsibilities
  • Advance residential master planning and capital projects, while also being mindful that current facilities are properly maintained and enhanced to support students’ residential education.
  • Provide support and assistance to the Vice President and Dean of the College and Facilities leadership teams by acting as a liaison to address facility needs, residence hall maintenance, custodial, and grounds concerns as they transform into larger facility needs and renovation projects.
  • Assist with on-going development and planning for the Colgate’s Third Century Plan for residential life, including the transformation of the Lower Campus and the construction of a Fifth Residential Commons. In total, the investment in these new and renewed residential capital projects is estimated to be in excess of $250M over the next decade.
  • Provide management for assessments, design, and development documents in collaboration with Facilities project managers and the Third Century Residential Life Planning Team. Responsible for coordinating the summer capital project schedule, identifying and tracking residential capital improvements, renovations, maintenance, furniture repair and replacement schedules, and act as a liaison with residence life and facilities leadership teams.
  • Develop and manage multiple, simultaneous construction projects (both renewal and new capital projects), by developing a project scope, plans, and designs in close partnership with internal constituents, architects, engineers, builders, and other team members.
  • Act as the lead within the Dean of the College division and, in partnership with Facilities, manage all or parts of design and construction projects, from programming and design through construction and closeout.
  • Develop and manage budgets and schedules for various aspects of residential projects, including design, relocations (e.g. swing space planning), furniture procurement and installation, and move-ins.
  • Utilize a working knowledge of project management to collaborate with complex and diverse project teams.
  • In partnership with master planners and architects, and University Communications, coordinate written communications and graphic presentations for multiple internal and external constituents documenting project progress and to assist in related fundraising opportunities.
  • Demonstrate a thoughtful, detail-oriented approach that encompasses strong organizational and prioritization skills to manage multiple concurrent objectives, projects or activities and ensure each are advanced to successful completion. Possess and exhibit strong project management knowledge, technical skills and a desire to continually learn new skills and technical functions to support solid project management decision making and team collaboration.

Support Colgate’s Department of Residential Life

  • Empower a talented leadership team within the Department of Residence Life to shape and support a residential experience that fully leverages Colgate’s four-year residential education through relentless incrementalism of improving and enhancing existing programs.
  • Support the growth of these professional staff members through direct supervision, including weekly supervision meetings to provide professional development, mentorship, guidance and oversight. Engage in annual formal performance development reviews. Support and guide daily implementation of job responsibilities. Maintain consistency of broad expectations among staff colleagues, including compliance with Dean of the College Division and University policies and procedures. Understand and advocate for department resource needs.

Support Colgate’s Residential Commons

  • The residential commons are an integrated living-learning experience that is a close collaboration between the divisions of the dean of the faculty and the dean of the college. This AVP will play a key role in advancing the residential commons program and developing a comprehensive student residential experience. The AVP, in collaboration with the faculty and staff directors of the residential commons, will work to ensure, assess, and refine our practices to provide vibrant student living-learning communities and other co-curricular programs throughout and across the residential commons. This includes providing general support for directors and leadership staff including development/compilation of resources to support their work. Set agendas, manage meetings, and advance short- and long-term objectives for this program.

Leadership Skills

  • Earned advanced degree in higher education, related field, or an academic discipline is required.
  • A minimum of 10 years of relevant experience, with at least five being in a leadership level, in a comprehensive on-campus housing operation within higher education.
  • Knowledge and experience working collaboratively with faculty, academic, and student affairs staff in support of student learning and student development.
  • Demonstrated excellent management and program development skills including experience with strategic planning and the implementation of new initiatives.
  • Excellent interpersonal, verbal, written, and listening skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents.
  • Proven short- and long-term planning skills, coupled with the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Ability to motivate staff and build an effective team, and exhibit initiative, creativity, and enthusiasm.
  • Experience managing complex budgets (including revenue and expense forecasts) and housing occupancy projections.
  • Experience managing capital budgets, familiarity with facilities and capital planning.
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience in major elements of residence life programs including facilities operations.
  • Leadership initiatives or project involvement in related regional, national and/or international professional organizations.
  • Prior higher education experience at the Dean/Associate/Assistant Dean or Assistant/Associate VP level.

Measures of Success for the Position

At an appropriate interval after joining the Dean of the College Division, the following items will define success for the Assistant Vice President:

  • The AVP as developed a strong working relationship with the vice president and dean of the college that results in a shared vision for Colgate’s residential experience.
  • Effective collaborations with the residential life staff, faculty and staff commons directors, and Facilities colleagues have been established, leading to advancing the goals of Colgate’s Residential Commons, Lower Campus project, and overall student residential experience.
  • Effective collaboration will exist between the Dean of the College Division and Facilities, with a strong emphasis on capital planning and communication.
  • In consultation with the vice president and dean of the college, an assessment and alignment of staffing within the department will have occurred to ensure advancement of strategic priorities.

Screening will begin in late February and continue until an appointment is made. Please submit your CV and cover letter electronically here for consideration. Thank you.

Search Team

Peter J. Gillin
Managing Director

Holly Bowers
Vice President & Senior Associate


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