Organization: Allegheny College

Location: Meadville, PA

Express Interest

Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students:

Allegheny College is seeking a bold, optimistic visionary and an experienced, collaborative practitioner to be its next Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students (VP and Dean). Allegheny College has defined its future and is securing its place in the changing higher education landscape and requires a student affairs professional to lead a talented and enthusiastic division of student life and to partner across the institution as it develops and implements plans to offer a distinctive liberal arts education and ensure a future of distinction. The VP and Dean reports to the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the College and leads the Division of Student Life consisting of approximately 40 employees and managing operating budgets of approximately $1.2 million.

Allegheny College:

Allegheny College is a private liberal arts institution located in Meadville, PA, near Lake Erie, about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh. Allegheny College celebrated its bicentennial in 2015, is the 32nd oldest college in the United States, and ranks among the oldest 1% of colleges and universities in the country.

Allegheny College’s mission focuses on undergraduate, residential education that prepares young adults for successful, meaningful lives by promoting students’ intellectual, moral, and social development and encouraging personal and civic responsibility.  Allegheny’s faculty and staff combine high academic standards and a commitment to the exchange of knowledge with a supportive approach to learning. Graduates are equipped to think critically and creatively, write clearly, speak persuasively, and meet challenges in a diverse, interconnected world.

Allegheny has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1800 students representing a broad and growing range of diversity. More than half of students enrolling at Allegheny are from outside of Pennsylvania, and recent first-year classes have included over 25% domestic students of color and over 35% of incoming students are Pell eligible. Students at Allegheny can choose from more than 30 majors, and each student chooses a minor from a division outside of his/her major division. The curriculum encourages educational depth and intellectual breadth (what Allegheny terms “Unusual Combinations” of interests and talents). Every student completes a senior project before they graduate. This capstone project is a significant piece of mentored research or creative work that students present to their faculty and classmates.

The student-faculty ratio at Allegheny College is 11 to 1, and over 70 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is well above the national average.

Allegheny students can join more than 100 clubs, pledge with 10 Greek-letter organizations, or try out for one of 21 (soon to be 23) Allegheny Gators varsity sports teams, which compete in the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference.   In October of 2017, the Board of Trustees approved the addition of two additional varsity sports teams; woman’s field hockey and men’s lacrosse.

Some recent accolades for Allegheny College include:

  • The 2018 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Educationcollege rankings included Allegheny among the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the nation.
  • S. News & World Reportnamed Allegheny one of the top 100 national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. — and the sixth most innovative — in its 2018 Best Colleges rankings.
  • The Princeton Review featured Allegheny in the 2018 edition of Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck. Allegheny also ranked No. 15 nationally on the guidebook’s list of the Top 25 Best Schools for Making an Impact.
  • Allegheny is one of only 40 institutions featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges.
  • In January 2016, Allegheny was recognized as No. 1 in Undergraduate Research among baccalaureate colleges by the Council on Undergraduate Research.
  • Allegheny is featured in the 2017 edition of The Princeton Review’s Guide to 375 Green Colleges.

Allegheny is among a small number of higher education institutions that have received the Climate Leadership Award from the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and Second Nature.  This award is presented to ACUPCC signatory schools that demonstrate unparalleled campus innovation and climate leadership that helps transition society to a clean, just and sustainable future.

To learn more about Allegheny College, visit

College Leadership:

James H. Mullen, Jr., President

James H. Mullen, Jr. became the 21st president of Allegheny College on August 1, 2008.  With more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles in higher education, and a keen appreciation for Allegheny’s history and traditions, he is continuing the work of earlier presidents in building community while at the same time enhancing the College’s reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent colleges of the liberal arts and sciences.  One of his key initiatives at Allegheny College has been the establishment of the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life, which was created in 2011 to annually recognize two political figures, one liberal and one conservative, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs.  Recent recipients of the Prize for Civility in Public Life are Vice President Joseph Biden and Senator John McCain in 2016 and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the family of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2017.

Dr. Mullen has recently served as chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education, the nation’s most visible and influential higher education association, with a base of more than 1,800 member institutions.  In addition, he serves on the Presidents’ Advisory Council of the Bonner Foundation; on the Presidents’ Council and Vice Chair of the North Coast Athletic Conference; on the parent’s board of Project Pericles; on the Board of Directors, as Chair of both the Tax and Audit Committees, and as a member of the Executive and Administration Committees of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; serves as chair  of the Great Lakes Colleges Association; and on the boards of the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and the Annapolis Group.

Dr. Mullen is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He holds a master of public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

After two decades as a college president and a successful 11 years at Allegheny Dr. Mullen will retire from the Allegheny College Presidency in the summer of 2019.

Ron Cole, Provost and Dean of the College

Ron Cole, Ph.D., is an Allegheny College graduate and joined the College’s faculty in 1994. Dr. Cole was appointed provost and dean of the College in 2015. He earned his M.S. and his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. As chief academic officer, Dr. Cole works closely with the faculty, the chief operating office, and the president to help shape and manage the academic program and strategic initiatives of the College. Allegheny’s deans are responsible for the academic mission including curriculum, institutional research, and student experiences through the Allegheny Gateway, faculty recruitment, and faculty development. Dr. Cole has held leadership positions throughout his time at Allegheny, including as chair of the College’s Finance and Facilities Committee and the Department of Geology. In addition, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as moderator for faculty meetings. He was also elected to and chaired both the College’s Faculty Review Committee, which makes recommendations to the president regarding promotion and tenure, and Faculty Council, which advises the president and provost in the development of general College policies. He has also served as a member of the College’s Diversity Task force. Dr. Cole has maintained an active student-focused research program at Allegheny. In 2004 he was the recipient of the Thoburn Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Eileen Petula, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

As the college’s chief operating officer, Eileen leads financial services, human resources, the Title IX Office, development and alumni affairs, student affairs, college relations, athletics, admissions, financial aid, and overall enrollment planning. Eileen has more than 27 years of progressive management experience in public accounting, nonprofit administration, and higher education. Prior to Allegheny College, she was the AVP for Finance and Treasurer at Swarthmore College where she provided leadership for a broad range of areas including financial accounting and reporting, auditing, budgeting, financial services, grants administration, purchasing, insurance, contract review and financial risk management. Eileen began her higher education career at Lafayette College. She is a Certified Public Accountant and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from Villanova.

The Position:

The Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students is the College’s chief student affairs officer and works collaboratively with the senior administration, faculty, staff, and students to provide a comprehensive living/learning environment that challenges students to be engaged citizens, creates a campus environment respectful of differences, and prepares students for a lifetime of contribution to society.

The VP and Dean provides direct supervision to the Associate Dean of Students for Wellness Education, Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Involvement, the Associate Dean of Students/Director of Residence Life, the Assistant Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct, the Director of Public Safety, and the Assistant to VP and

Dean of Students.  Student Health Services, the Counseling and Personal Development Center and the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life reports to the Dean through the Associate Dean of Students for Wellness Education.

The VP and Dean serves on the President’s Administrative Executive Council (AEC) and provides support to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees. Historically, the VP and Dean has also played an important convening role in student retention efforts through the work of the Deans’ Council and the Retention Committee. The VP and Dean also:

  • Provides the Division of Student Life with bold, creative, energetic, and strategic leadership. Engages fully in the life of the campus by being a visible, accessible, and grounded leader who develops and enjoys strong rapport with students, faculty, and staff;
  • Advises the Executive Vice President and President on all policies and matters related to the student life.
  • Provides leadership and counsel during times of crisis, whether that means supporting individual students and their families or managing campus-wide The position also has oversight of after hours on call procedures and will need to be familiar with and able to utilize the college’s notification and emergency alert system;
  • Oversees the recruitment, management, development, and retention of professionals and support staff in the Division of Student Life. Provides effective leadership and management of the Division by ensuring strategic allocation of human, physical, and financial resources to achieve the Division’s objectives. Provides mentoring, professional development opportunities, and a model of collaboration with other academic and administrative units;
  • Promotes transparent communication with a wide range of constituencies about the values and priorities of a professional student affairs division, while also remaining open to feedback and continual improvement;
  • Partners with faculty and academic affairs leadership to build innovative academic and civic engagement programs in support of a living and learning environment;
  • Leads Division efforts to foster wellness and well-being, including implementation of educational programs that raise awareness and promote bystander intervention as related to drugs and alcohol, sexual violence, mental health, and other areas related to student well-being;
  • Partners with the Senior Vice President for Enrollment/Dean of Admissions to support the strategic enrollment plan that supports the College’s overall strategic plan. Collaborates with all segments of the College, particularly Academic Affairs, to support student learning and success by providing leadership for the implementation of high quality and student-centered approaches in the development of co-curricular experiences;
  • Works in collaboration with the Dean for Institutional Diversity to foster sustained dialogue and actionable items to ensure a welcoming and supportive campus climate for students, faculty and staff;
  • Leads the development of effective and efficient withdrawals, leaves of absence, and re-entry programs for students in compliance with federal and state regulations;
  • Serves as co-chair of the Campus Life and Community Standards Committee. Serves on the Academic Standards and Exemptions Committee. Works closely with the Provost/Dean of the College to coordinate academic and co-curricular programs. Works with the Registrar on student academic dismissals, appeals, and returns.
  • Promotes a culture of assessment and continuous improvement in the Division of Student Life;
  • Provides administrative leadership and support of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The Opportunity:

Impactful opportunities such as this are rare. Allegheny College is seeking a truly unique individual; one who will provide outstanding leadership and stability while encouraging innovation and change. Someone who will embrace the traditions of Allegheny College while partnering on the development and implementation of bold new strategies and programs. Someone with the knowledge and experience to provide strong and informed leadership and supervision and the humble confidence needed to embrace new ways of doing business. Allegheny College is actively crafting their future and needs an enthusiastic and optimistic leader who can balance visionary qualities with tactical abilities and strategic planning skills with crisis management experience. Allegheny College realizes the skill set required for this position is broad and the work itself difficult, but the successful candidate will have the opportunity to be a pivotal leader as the College prepares itself to thrive in its third century.

Success in this position will in part be measured by focus/progress in the following high impact areas:

  • Building healthy and successful collaborations and partnerships between student life units and various academic and administrative units;
  • The creation of a college Wellness Center is a high priority. The Dean will provide leadership, guidance and support to successfully combine the operations of the current health center and counseling and personal development centers into a single comprehensive student support unit;
  • Allegheny Bound Summer Orientation: Beginning in summer 2018, Allegheny College is introducing a new Summer Orientation program with four overnight sessions in June and July for incoming first-year students and their families. The sessions are part of Allegheny Bound, a carefully planned series of programs during the summer designed to help build enthusiasm among new students, offer them a range of perspectives on life at Allegheny, and deepen their connection with the College as they prepare to embark on their Allegheny journey in the fall. Allegheny Bound is led by a collaborative working group that includes representatives from the Dean of Students Office, the Maytum Learning Commons, the Provost and Dean of the College Office, and Athletics and Recreation;
  • The new Dean will demonstrate leadership and collaboration by partnering effectively with a team of nearly 40 colleagues from across the College–academic affairs, faculty, student life, Athletics, enrollment, and more–to design, implement, assess, and refine an effective retention improvement plan grounded in the Gardner Retention Performance Management (RPM) process. The Gardner RPM was developed and is being supported by the Gardner Institute.  The College will kick off the two-year RPM process in May 2018; and
  • Developing innovative programs that advance the residential camps experience and assist students to learn what it means to live in community, and develop life skills around personal responsibility and healthy living that they can carry into their lives after Allegheny.

Qualifications and Experience:

The successful candidate will have an advanced degree, experience managing a complex portfolio, and significant leadership experience in student affairs. Candidates will also bring with them a record of dynamic and visionary accomplishments with a deep understanding of the mission and functions of student affairs in a liberal arts environment and the role a vibrant residential life plays in that environment. The candidate will have a commitment to shared governance and experience working collaboratively with academic affairs. Experience working with outside parties including vendors, community groups, and public officials would be beneficial. Successful candidates will bring to the position a high degree of energy and integrity and experience in strategic planning and financial management. Candidates should be committed to social justice and civic engagement, and have experience working with diverse constituents and fostering an environment of inclusivity. Knowledge of student development theory, as well as current issues and trends in student affairs is required. The successful candidate will have extensive supervisory experience and excellent interpersonal and written/oral communication skills.  Candidates should have experience in overseeing the resolution of complex student issues and understand the balance between managing institutional risk and student development.

In addition, the successful candidate’s personal qualities should include, outstanding personal and professional integrity that will inspire and motivate students, administrators, and staff throughout the Division of Student Life; demonstrated success in being a persuasive, and effective advocate for a Division of Student Life; sensitivity, fairness, compassion, empathy, objectivity, and a transparent and collaborative decision making and communication approach; and a collegial, friendly, and humble style in keeping with the culture of the College.


Koya Leadership Partners is assisting Allegheny with this recruitment. This search is being led by:

Tom Phillips, Principal
Josyanne Roche, Consultant

Nominations and applications, including a detailed letter of interest, qualifications, and a current curriculum vitae, should be submitted here.

Allegheny College is an Equal Opportunity Employer with a strong institutional commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Allegheny Statement of Community:

Allegheny students and employees are committed to creating an inclusive, respectful, and safe residential learning community that will actively confront and challenge racism, sexism, heterosexism, religious bigotry, and other forms of harassment and discrimination. We encourage individual growth by promoting a free exchange of ideas in a setting that values diversity, trust, and equality. So that the right of all to participate in a shared leaning experience is upheld, Allegheny affirms its commitment to the principles of freedom of speech and inquiry, while at the same time fostering responsibility and accountability in the exercise of these freedoms. This statement does not replace existing personnel policies and codes of conduct.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with higher education institutions, mission-driven organizations and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit