Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Director of First-Year Orientation and Family Engagement



Job description

Carnegie Mellon University invites applications for the role of Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Director of First-Year Orientation and Family Engagement, a senior leader in the Division of Student Affairs who is responsible for a broad array of activities designed to develop and enhance the university’s relationship with parents, families and incoming undergraduates. The Associate Dean serves as the division’s lead advocate for parents and family members, providing a key communication channel between them and the division/university. In partnership with relevant university collaborators, the Associate Dean designs and advances a strategic vision that cultivates a deep and meaningful sense of membership in the university community for parents and families. Toward that end, the Associate Dean plans and implements a large assortment of communications, programs and events for family members, including the annual Family Weekend. Additionally, the Associate Dean serves as the lead architect of the university’s Orientation Week for incoming undergraduates, working with two Assistant Directors, two graduate assistants, and 160 student staff members to deliver a best-in-class program that welcomes and orients new students to university life.

This leadership opportunity will provide a seasoned professional with an exceptional platform upon which to use the strengths and successes of a high-functioning department and program to achieve enhanced goals and outcomes that the incumbent will partner with collaborators to design. The university’s appetite for cultivating a strong sense of belonging for first-year students and family members is at an all-time high, and we seek a creative and dedicated innovator who can continue to advance our divisional efforts toward those ends. Additionally, the Associate Dean will also have the opportunity to sculpt the leadership team for the department through the hiring process for one of the two Assistant Directors (a newly-created role).

Your core responsibilities will include:

Strategic Planning

  • Leading (in partnership with other key campus collaborators) and implementing a plan for family engagement and communication which anticipates natural transitions and developmental needs
  • Partnering with campus team members to create a unified approach, common learning outcomes, and a scaffolded curriculum throughout the welcome and onboarding of new students
  • Partnering with Institutional Research and Analysis to regularly and comprehensively assess the experience of first-year students and undergraduate families in a manner that substantively informs future program enhancement and strategic planning
  • Partnering with University Advancement staff to create opportunities to enhance the university’s engagement with parents and families


  • Serving as a liaison to parents and families regarding all student-focused concerns, and working with the appropriate divisional and university resources to ensure that student success is supported
  • Developing and implementing a robust professional development plan to equip faculty and staff who routinely engage with parents and families with the framework, language and skills to support them in their work, and serving as a resource to them in supporting their work
  • Liaising with the Office of the President and the Vice President of Student Affairs regarding parent inquiries, visits, programs, etc.
  • Managing broad-based parent and family communication in response to significant events affecting the entire campus community
  • Providing guidance and support to Student Affairs staff who are engaged with parents and family members in connection with significant student incidents or needs

Event Planning

  • Owning the strategic planning, design and implementation for the First-Year Orientation Week for undergraduates, Family Welcome Orientation, and Family Weekend
  • Developing and implementing year-round opportunities for parents and families (both local and remote) to substantively engage in the intellectual and creative life of the university
  • Coordinating Division of Student Affairs involvement in the planning and implementation of summer welcome events for incoming students, parents and families

Marketing and Communication

  • Developing and implementing high-quality and dynamic online community experiences and resources for family members using websites, webinars, video and other emerging technologies
  • Stewarding a robust communication plan for families of incoming first-year students that supports their transition and arrival, and ongoing communications to connect family members with university resources
  • Partnering with the Assistant Directors to ensure that a synchronous and parallel communication plan for incoming first-year students is developed and implemented

College Liaison

  • Serving as a student affairs senior liaison to a designated academic college, working in partnership with students, advisors, faculty, associate deans and support resources to cultivate a positive and supportive metacurricular experience for students within the college


  • Developing and stewarding an annual personnel and operating budget of approximately $1.5M


  • Supervising two Assistant Directors who coordinate First-Year Orientation and Family Engagement activities in concert with a team of 160 student volunteers
  • Co-supervising one administrative support staff person

Flexibility, excellence, and passion are vital qualities within Student Affairs. Inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are valued competencies at CMU. Therefore, we are in search of a team member who is able to optimally interact with a varied population of internal and external partners at a high level of integrity. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the university through their work.

You should demonstrate:

  • Proven success in program creation and management;
  • Successful track record of innovation in a highly collaborative environment;
  • Advanced interpersonal and intercultural communication skills;
  • Evidenced assessment and evaluation abilities and strong organizational skills;
  • Ability to optimally facilitate discussions and presentations in both large and small settings; and
  • Nuanced understanding of contemporary needs of new undergraduates, parents and families.


  • Master’s degree required
  • 5-8 years of experience in parent/family programs and/or orientation programs required
  • A combination of education and relevant experience from which comparable knowledge is demonstrated may be considered.


  • Successful Background Check

Additional Information:

  • This position is eligible to operate on a hybrid schedule, with an on-campus/in office presence at least three days a week (noting that programming demands will require more fulsome on-campus presence).
  • You should be able to travel both domestically and internationally and be willing to work outside of normal business hours as needed.
  • While the typical work schedule for this exempt position is Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 5:00pm, evening and weekend hours will be required as needed in service of the job expectations.

How to apply

Applications must include a cover letter and resume and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications received by April 10, 2023, will receive priority consideration. This position is a full-time role with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2023, noting that an earlier start would certainly be entertained if desired by the successful candidate.

Are you interested in this exciting opportunity?! Apply today!

CMU’s COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements: As a condition of employment, Carnegie Mellon University requires all staff and faculty working in the United States to be fully vaccinated, including a booster when eligible, against COVID-19. Prior to commencement of employment, new hires in the United States must provide proof of vaccination or obtain an approved exemption. (Exemptions may be requested for medical reasons or for religious or strong moral or ethical conviction.) Staff and faculty must comply with all applicable COVID-19 mitigation requirements. Please see Minimum Requirements to Return to Campus for details regarding the university’s current COVID-19 mitigation requirements.


Pittsburgh, PAJob Function

Student ProgramsPosition Type

Staff – RegularFull Time/Part time

Full timePay Basis

SalaryMore Information:

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  • Statement of Assurance

Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate and Carnegie Mellon University is required not to discriminate in admission, employment, or administration of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or handicap in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or other federal, state, or local laws or executive orders.

Carnegie Mellon University is a global research university with more than 11,000 students, 86,500 alumni, and 4,000 faculty and staff. Recognized for its world-class arts and technology programs, collaboration across disciplines and innovative leadership in education, CMU is consistently a top-ranked university.