Prison University Project — Academic Program Director

Academic Program Director
Full time (1 FTE), salary and benefits
Salary: $90,000-120,000 annually, depending on experience
San Rafael, CA

Prison University Project Overview
The mission of the Prison University Project is to provide an intellectually rigorous, inclusive Associate of Arts degree program and college preparatory program, free of charge, to people at San Quentin State Prison; to expand access to quality higher education for incarcerated people; and to foster the values of equity, civic engagement, independence of thought, and freedom of expression. The Prison University Project is a national leader in providing quality higher education opportunities to incarcerated people and in expanding access to higher education within California’s prison system and nationwide. In recognition of our work the organization was awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal by President Obama.

The Prison University Project is currently in a period of growth. After twenty years of operating a robust, high-quality higher education degree program at San Quentin, the organization is seeking independent accreditation. This new college will be the first of its kind, a world-class college based at San Quentin, designed solely for incarcerated students.

The incarcerated population that our program serves at San Quentin are on a medium security yard and are classified by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as male, including men, transwomen, and nonbinary/gender non-conforming people; the majority of our students are People of Color.

Job Description
Reporting to the Chief Academic Officer, the Academic Program Director is responsible for managing the administration and operation of the college program’s Academic Affairs division, including recruitment, training, and supervision of all faculty working within the Associate of Arts degree program at San Quentin State Prison, and overseeing curriculum development. This requires working across multiple disciplines, while engaging with a broad range of stakeholders, including incarcerated students, correctional staff and administrators, and all other program staff. is is a challenging academic leadership role.

The Academic Program Director will cultivate an intellectually rigorous, culturally diverse, inclusive campus community that is committed to civil dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. This position requires strong organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously. The Academic Program Director works closely with students; collaborates with fellow staff and faculty; and serves as the primary administrative representative on all matters related to academic affairs.

The job is performed inside San Quentin and at the Prison University Project offices nearby. Hours include at least two evenings a week and regular weekends.

The Academic Program Director supervises academic staff, including the Learning Specialist, the STEM Program Coordinator, the College Preparatory Writing Program Coordinator, and the Program Assistant. e Academic Program Director works closely with the Chief Academic Officer and the Director of Student Affairs.

Core job duties

  • Work closely with the Chief Academic Officer and Student Affairs Director on all aspects of program administration, including semester planning and scheduling
  • Supervise and support College Prep Writing Program Coordinator, Learning Specialist, STEM Program Coordinator, and Program Assistant
  • Recruit volunteer instructors for all credit courses in the social sciences and humanities
  • Develop and deliver training to all program instructors, TAs, and tutors, in collaboration with other Program staff
  • Oversee academic program efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse faculty
  • Provide ongoing supervision and support to instructors via advising on course planning curriculum development, and syllabus design individual and teaching team consultations; faculty meetings; and in-class observation
  • Develop and oversee systems of academic advising and student support, in collaboration with other staff
  • Lead academic team on program improvement projects related to course design, curriculum, and student learning support systems
  • Design and deliver student advising and support, including planning and conducting workshops for students in collaboration with the other staff
  • Recruit and supervise the work of volunteers and other partners on extracurricular activities
  • Escort faculty into San Quentin several afternoons and evenings per week, and provide support on-site for faculty and students during those times
  • Maintain ongoing communication with San Quentin administrators and staff, regularly and as needed
  • Assist with the planning and supervision of site visits

Other job responsibilities

  • Collaborate with Executive Team on special projects, on- and of-site events, and fundraising-related activities
  • Support program team with the planning and execution of special events inside San Quentin as needed
  • Plan annual academic conference, in collaboration with the Chief Academic Officer and the Program Team
  • Participate in regular (bimonthly) all-staff meetings, and other organizational meetings
  • Participate in weekly Program Team meetings and biweekly Academic Team meetings
  • Support Chief Academic Officer in assessment cycles for accreditation, including compiling data and continually devising programmatic improvements

Key success factors

  • Master’s degree required; Ph.D. strongly preferred
  • Extensive graduate-level experience in the social sciences and/or humanities
  • Extensive teaching experience
  • Experience supervising and leading teams, including the ability to give clear and actionable feedback, to support each team member’s development, and to support individual goal-setting of supervisees
  • Outstanding communication skills (written, verbal, presentation, etc.)
  • Ability to manage multiple competing priorities under tight deadlines
  • Aptitude for working in a culturally diverse environment; ability to interact patiently and diplomatically with a wide variety of constituencies
  • Strong organizational and time management skills; detail-orientation and capacity to multitask
  • Analytical thinker, team-builder
  • Mastery of computer skills (MS Ofice Suite with strong emphasis on Excel, Google Docs, Sheets, Groups, and Calendar, Salesforce CRM, etc.)
  • On prison escort days, position is physically active, including spending at least 1/3 of the day walking or standing, a 1/2 mile walk at least twice a day, and liting up to 15 lbs.

Compensation and Benefits
The Prison University Project offers competitive compensation, flexible work policies, and a collaborative work environment. Our excellent benefits package includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, and the full cost of each plan is covered by the Prison University Project. We also offer generous vacation time and holiday pay, as well as opportunities for professional development.

How to apply
Please submit your cover letter and resume to with “Academic Program Director” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

We seek candidates who share a commitment to PUP’s mission and proven ability to work with multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-gendered communities. We especially encourage applications from candidates of diverse socio-economic backgrounds; and/or who reflect the cultural, ethnic and racial diversity of our student body; as well as people directly impacted by incarceration. In keeping with our beliefs and goals, we welcome applicants who are LGBTQ and/or gender diverse.

Statement of Non-discrimination
The Prison University Project provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws.

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.