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Southern Methodist University (SMU) invites inquiries, nominations and applications for an experienced, innovative, committed, and collaborative professional to serve as the next Assistant Vice President (AVP) and Dean of Residence Life & Student Housing (RLSH).

About the Position

Move in 9Reporting to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. K.C. Mmeje, the AVP and Dean of RLSH is a member of the vice president’s leadership team. This position provides overall leadership for a comprehensive residence life and student housing program, a significant aspect of which is the residential commons model. The housing model supports a strong residential community with an emphasis on academic and social balance to enhance personal exploration and growth for students. The AVP and dean of RLSH will play a significant role in advancing the residential commons initiative and further developing a comprehensive student residential experience. 

The university houses approximately 3,000 students in 11 Residential Commons (RCs).  The RCs provide an integrated academic and residential experience incorporating Faculty in Residence (FiRs) serving as the intellectual leaders for each residential community and a Residential Commons Director (RCD) who also shapes the experience of each commons. In addition to the Residential Commons, SMU operates houses for upper division students including traditional residence halls, apartment communities and fraternity houses.

Specific duties include but are not limited to these:

  • Serve as a member of the executive leadership team of the Division of Student Affairs.
  • Provide inspirational vision, leadership and oversight for the university’s comprehensive Residence Life & Student Housing program including supervision of staff, departmental budgets and residential facilities that include residential commons, traditional residence halls, Greek houses, and apartments.

  • smu_image2Lead the ongoing implementation of the residential commons model and ensure its continued success.  Toward that goal work collaboratively with academic and student affairs faculty, staff and departments; engage in ongoing visioning, strategic planning, and assessment in support of the residential commons model and the overall residential student experience. Communicate regularly and effectively with RLSH staff and with key campus partners.

  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships with the Faculty in Residence (FiRs) and members of the senior leadership within Academic Affairs to strengthen academic programming and intellectual culture within the Commons.

  • Allocate human resources and oversee all aspects of programs and services to students in university-owned housing. Develop and implement an efficient and effective staffing model, ensuring that individuals with the needed knowledge, skills, and abilities are in place to support strategic priorities. Oversee all personnel-related matters within the department in accordance with University policy, including hiring, termination, promotion, professional development and training.

  • Strengthen the administrative policies and processes of RLSH including but not limited to housing assignments, marketing materials, training programs, enterprise systems, and technology deployment.

  • Ensure financial sustainability. In collaboration with the Vice President for Student Affairs and the division’s financial liaison, develop the annual budget, setting appropriate targets for revenue and expenses, including annual contribution to capital reserves. Regularly analyze local housing market data and establish competitive housing rate structure and contract provisions.

  • Collaborate with Facilities, the division of budget and finance, and other campus stakeholders to develop short and long-term capital investment plans to ensure facilities are properly maintained and enhanced to support strategic priorities.

  • Forge connections and regularly dialogue with other universities that have similar residential commons/college models, and be involved in professional academic and student affairs related organizations to ensure the residential life and residential commons program remains innovative.

  • Promote Residence Life and Student Housing. Provide subject matter expertise and leadership within student affairs and across the campus community on known and emerging issues relevant to promoting student health and success in a residential setting.

  • Oversee and strengthen assessment activities within RLSH.

  • Perform related duties as assigned to meet department, division, and university goals and objectives.


The Successful Candidate

The successful candidate will have excellent interpersonal, verbal, written, and listening skills, including the ability to communicate effectively with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and parents. The new AVP and dean of RLSH must have demonstrated short- and long-term planning skills, coupled with the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously. Self-initiative, creativity, enthusiasm and abilities to motivate staff, and build an effective team are essential to this position.

smu_groupThe incumbent must have demonstrated knowledge and experience working collaboratively with faculty, academic, and student affairs staff in support of student learning and development; experience developing and directing academic programs in a residential setting; excellent management and program development skills including experience with strategic planning and the implementation of new initiatives. Experience managing complex budgets that include revenue and expense forecasts and housing occupancy projections is paramount. Successful oversight of a comprehensive assessment model is important. 

The successful candidate should possess a minimum of ten years of relevant experience, with at least five being in a leadership level, in a comprehensive on-campus housing operation within higher education. A Masters in higher education, related field, or an academic discipline is required; a doctorate in higher education or related field is preferred.  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; and higher education experience at the Dean/Associate/Assistant Dean or Assistant/Associate VP level is preferred.

About SMU

SMU, a global research university with a liberal arts tradition, has seven degree-granting schools. Of the University’s 11,000 students, more than 6,000 are undergraduates.  More than half of the undergraduates come from outside of Texas. The University’s profile benefits from an endowment of $1.5 billion and a recently completed fundraising campaign, which raised a record $1.15 billion to enrich faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. From its origins, SMU was shaped by the entrepreneurial spirit of the region. The University is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry. 

SMU is a leading private University located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a dynamic region with leading high-technology companies in the aerospace, defense, energy, information technology, life sciences, semiconductors, telecommunications, transportation, and biomedical industries. Some of the top companies and research institutes with a strong presence in the DFW area include Texas Instruments, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, Lockheed-Martin, Turner Construction, Jacobs Engineering, Trinity Industries, Huitt-Zollars, Inc., The Beck Group, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Baylor Research Institute.

About the Division

In concert with Launching SMU's Second Century, the University's strategic plan for 2016-2025, the Division of Student Affairs is essential to SMU’s mission of "shaping world changers who contribute to their communities and excel in their professions in a global society." Students are the center of the work division and are the focus the new strategic plan, Cultivating Courageous Change. The Division, as the plan’s title indicates, will be doing things differently, more boldly, to ensure it serves students with excellence and prepares them for the future and by extension, hope they live courageous lives cultivating change in their local and global communities. The plan fully embraces the University’s mission, and demonstrates that through academic and co-curricular experiences, Mustangs will explore a wide range of disciplines, think critically about complex issues, and learn how to effectively engage and navigate an increasingly globalized world. 

Mission Statement

The Division of Student Affairs creates and supports a robust student experience and forges strategic partnerships to best serve the entire SMU community. As educators and scholar-practitioners, we create purposeful learning and leadership opportunities for students to clarify and develop their knowledge, values, skills, and identities - challenging each to become a world changer.


How to Apply:

Interested candidates should send a letter of application and resume that relates skills, abilities, knowledge, and professional experiences to the stated qualifications for the position and notable achievements. The packet should be sent to  The email subject line should be AVPRLSH. 

Confidential inquiries may be made by contacting Susan Salvador at at 585-230-4013 or Megan Spelman at at 585-366-4329.

The process will continue until the position is filled.

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.  The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,

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