Northwestern University — Executive Director for Residential Services

Northwestern University is a private institution founded in 1851. Today, nearly 16,500 students study in nine graduate and undergraduate schools on three campuses. Two campuses are located on Lake Michigan: a 240-acre campus in Evanston, the first suburb north of Chicago, and a 25-acre campus in Chicago. The third campus is located in Doha, Qatar. Northwestern University is a member of the American Association of Universities, one of 61 universities recognized for their especially strong research and academic programs, and the institution receives national and international accolades for the quality of its educational programs. A charter member of the Big Ten and the conference’s only private institution, U.S. News & World Report currently ranks the University’s undergraduate programs 12th best in the country.

Northwestern University is looking for a visionary leader to direct the on-campus residential living and learning environment. The executive director oversees a thriving community of over 5,000 students living in 31 residence halls, 2 apartment buildings, and 28 fraternity and sorority houses. The executive director provides strategic direction for the administrative, budgetary, facilities, co-curricular, and programmatic aspirations of the department, works collaboratively to set and realize strategic goals for growth, equips and supports students in meaningful community living, and develops and implements new programs that enhance services for all students, faculty, and guests of Northwestern University. The new executive director must have a strong understanding of, and commitment to, diversity, social justice, and the creation of inclusive work and living environments. The position requires close collaboration with numerous stakeholder groups including other student affairs units, academic affairs, facilities management, budget planning, risk management, and university police.

The executive director leads a dynamic team of 76 full-time staff (with six direct reports, including five professional staff), 250 students, and 35 contract employees. The position oversees five Residential Services units—Residential Life, Residential Academic Initiatives, Facilities, Budget and Finance, and Administrative Services—and manages an annual operating budget of approximately $70 million. This is an exciting time to join Northwestern University as Residential Services is on the cusp of implementing “Engagement Centers” that emphasize affinity, connectedness, and community, enacting a $500 million facility construction/renovation plan, and managing a shift to a two-year live-on requirement. The position reports to the Assistant Vice President for Residential and Dining Services and is a key member of the student affairs leadership team. The executive director will play a strategic role in assisting Northwestern to make its campus life exemplary and among the best in the country.

A master’s degree (doctorate preferred) and senior management experience in housing and residence life are required. Among a broad array of desired qualities, the successful candidates will also demonstrate a record of innovative leadership in managing personnel, programs, and services; success in enhancing student learning through residential living; and an understanding of housing and residential life functions including budgeting and finance, facility maintenance and housekeeping, room assignments/ billing, marketing, summer conferences,  construction/renovation processes, staff supervision and professional development, student conduct, and the creation of environments that enhance students’ academic and personal success. The executive director must have a strong record of building teams and partnerships with colleagues and key stakeholder groups; sensitivity and skill to work with diverse student and employee populations, and a commitment to equity and social justice; strong communication and interpersonal competencies that demonstrate intelligence and integrity; and a commitment to exemplary customer service and sustainability. An understanding of the regulatory parameters of contemporary residential life and university housing practices; familiarity with labor relations and how to work effectively with union staff; and knowledge of legal issues and risk management are also desired skills. The new executive director must possess a passion for the profession and the talent to innovatively incorporate best practices into the organizational culture.

Review of applications will begin September 16, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled. A resume with an accompanying cover letter may be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at Nominations for this position may be emailed to Peter Rosenberg at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Spelman Johnson
Northwestern University – Executive Director for Residential Services
Peter Rosenberg, Senior Associate

Visit the Northwestern University website at

Northwestern University is a federal contractor that actively participates in affirmative action planning in the areas of recruitment and retention. Northwestern University actively seeks women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities to maintain a University community that is based on equal opportunity, reflects the diversity of American society, and improves opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities.