Director of Student Success Unit (BEAR Central)

Location: Hickory, North Carolina 

Lenoir-Rhyne University (LR) welcomes applications for an innovative and strategic leader to serve as the director of the student success unit on campus, Belonging, Equity, Access and Retention - BEAR Central. A start date on or before September 30, 2023, is preferable, but not required.

The successful candidate will be able to lead a newly redesigned student success unit on campus – BEAR Central - that has recently merged undergraduate and graduate student success and has incorporated multiple student support programs. The successful candidate will provide leadership and vision in student success strategies and activities, provide data-driven decision making for student success and retention needs on campus, serve as a critical campus resource for student retention and advising information and supervise the staff in BEAR Central. In addition, the new director will be responsible for holistic partnership with other units in the newly formed Student, Faculty and Institutional Success Collaborative, which aims to advance student success through teaching excellence and continuous institutional assessment and improvement. 

This position is part of a cluster hire integral to the formation of this Collaborative, which will be comprised of the following co-directors: the Director of BEAR Central (this advertised search), the Director of General Education, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Director of Institutional Assessment. This collaborative group of four co-directors will report directly to the provost. The Coordinator of First-Year Experience, who will report to the Director of General Education, is also part of the cluster hire.

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to partner with the co-directors and the provost to build this new collaborative on campus to forward the university’s strategic mission of enhancing student success and retention. Lenoir-Rhyne believes that the institution cannot be successful without successful faculty, and neither faculty nor the institution can be successful until students are thriving.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to the university’s commitment to excellence in engagement and education. We are particularly interested in candidates who have demonstrated experience engaging with diversity and equity through activities such as fostering an inclusive environment, working with faculty and/or students from diverse backgrounds, and/or incorporating diverse perspectives in their current or previous positions.

General Description/Primary Purpose

The Director of BEAR (Belonging, Equity, Access, and Retention) Central is a staff member who reports to the provost. Candidates with significant teaching and scholarship experience may qualify for an appointment with faculty rank.

The director oversees the day-to-day operations of BEAR Central, which currently includes the Academic Advising and Undergraduate Student Success Services, Graduate Student Success Services, Tutoring and Peer Coaching Services, Faculty Coaching Services, and Writing and Speaking Services. The director oversees academic support for all students, including retention efforts, academic probation & recovery and academic support for both undergraduate and graduate students. Through data-driven methodologies, this position evaluates, recommends and implements programs and initiatives to achieve increased student enrollment, retention & persistence and graduation rates. The director has the following responsibilities:

  • Provide leadership in student success strategies and activities at Lenoir-Rhyne University. This includes responsibility for the research, development, and assessment of student success strategies and activities, academic advising, and student academic support. The director will evaluate current retention activities and create a data-driven, comprehensive retention plan to enhance student educational experience and meet retention goals. This will include a plan for assessment to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and make recommendations to improve efforts.
  • Collaborate and partner with the other directors in the Student, Faculty and Institutional Success Collaborative: To forward and enhance the mission of student, faculty, and institutional success at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
  • Serve as an essential campus resource for student retention and advising information. The director is responsible for communicating retention and persistence plans, outcomes and initiatives to all stakeholders in the campus community. This includes providing training, workshops, events and handbooks/resources for others involved in advising and retention efforts on campus. 
  • Supervise the staff and manage the budget of BEAR Central.

Specific Job Functions

  • Leads the development, implementation, and evaluation of the strategic plan initiatives and institutional effectiveness plans for BEAR Central.
  • Design and implement programs and initiatives to increase enrollment and retention in collaboration with the provost, faculty and other staff.
  • Direct the facilitation of services to students by developing and maintaining effective communication with all relevant colleges and offices
  • Represent and advocate on behalf of students throughout the university community.
  • Develop and maintain positive working relationships with deans, faculty and staff and actively seek solutions for student-focused issues.
  • Plan and implement collaborative initiatives with the provost and other Student, Faculty and Institutional Success Collaborative directors. The Director of BEAR Central and other directors in the Student, Faculty, and Institutional Success Collaborative are responsible for the intentional partnership to advance student success through teaching excellence and continuous institutional assessment and improvement.
  • Represent BEAR Central to faculty during faculty orientation, professional development, faculty assembly, advising training and other on-campus meetings.
  • Represent BEAR Central to staff such as admissions, academic advising, registrar’s office, financial aid, student life and other staff on campus concerning all aspects of how BEAR Central interacts with those offices, including retention, persistence and general student success and belonging.
  • Interpret and communicate university policies and procedures to students, families, faculty, administrators and the general public.
  • Strategically monitor and provide regular reporting of student persistence and retention rates to senior leaders.
  • Lead the daily operation of BEAR Central, including the hiring, supervision, training and evaluation of staff; advocating for resources and initiatives to the provost; budget oversight; and overseeing website maintenance
  • Work directly with the Coordinator of First Year Advising to ensure timely responses to academic or faculty issues and modify programs and processes to better service student needs.
  • Work directly with Office of Academic Affairs to ensure the integration of graduate student success into the current student success group.
  • Work directly with all staff in BEAR Central to support, develop and enhance their roles and responsibilities.
  • In collaboration with the Office of Academic Affairs, pursue external funding opportunities to enhance services.
  • Maintain knowledge of academic federal and state legislation, rules and regulations, and university policies and procedures.
  • Other duties as assigned by the provost.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in any field required. A master’s degree or doctorate in student development, assessment, higher education or another closely related field is preferred.
  • Experience in higher education, including program development and assessment.
  • Demonstrated ability to build positive relationships among diverse faculty, staff and students.
  • Demonstrated experience forwarding diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
  • Proficiency in collecting, understanding and analyzing data related to retention, placement, and student success in ways that can inform senior leaders for strategic decision-making.
  • Capacity to effectively interact and partner with various internal and external constituencies.
  • Demonstrated ability in student success and management and best practices.
  • Ability to collaborate with academic deans, student life, admissions staff and others to develop and deliver co-curricular programming to implement a comprehensive student success, equity, retention and belonging program.
  • Knowledge of records management to include documentation, archiving, reporting and FERPA
  • Ability to work outside of normal business hours, as necessary (campus events, pre-registration, etc.).
  • Demonstrated ability to self-motivate and work independently in a collaborative team.
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal, problem-solving, written and oral communication skills.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated external grant writing experience; an interest in grant writing is required.
  • Strong understanding of student development theory.
  • Five years of academic advising experience at the collegiate level.
  • At least three to five years of experience as a direct supervisor of employees.
  • Spanish language skills.

Application Process

The review of applications will begin on September 10 and continue until the position is filled.

  • Letter of application specifically addressing the position description, qualifications, leadership experience, and how you have supported diversity, equity and inclusion in your current and previous positions and/or how you plan to work at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
  • A curriculum vitae or resume.
  • A list of three professional references, including name, current position, email, address and phone number.

The University’s mission, vision, and values statements may be reviewed at: Any questions regarding the position or the search process should be submitted electronically to the search committee chair, Jeni Wyatt, Ed.D., at

About Lenoir-Rhyne University

Lenoir-Rhyne University is a co-educational, private masters comprehensive liberal arts institution founded in 1891, with its traditional campus located in Hickory, North Carolina, a town of more than 40,000. The university has additional campus centers in Asheville, NC, and Columbia, SC, which include the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS). Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lenoir-Rhyne is less than an hour’s drive from Charlotte, and the Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of about 365,000. The University now offers more than 50 undergraduate and 30 graduate degree programs to approximately 2400 students. Lenoir-Rhyne University seeks to liberate mind and spirit, clarify personal faith, foster physical wholeness, build community, and promote responsible leadership for service worldwide. Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Lenoir-Rhyne promotes diverse campuses open to people from all religious and non-religious backgrounds. Please visit to learn more about the University.

Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment

Lenoir-Rhyne University does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, citizenship, religion, political affiliation, age, marital status, sex/gender, physical or mental disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or veteran status in any educational programs and activities, including admissions. Lenoir-Rhyne’s policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity extends to all aspects of employment, including, but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, transfer, reassignment, demotion, discipline, discharge, performance evaluation, compensation, and benefits. Lenoir-Rhyne is committed to providing an environment that promotes nondiscrimination, equal opportunity, and inclusion for faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers, and visitors.

Department:  Academic Affairs – Student, Faculty, and Institutional Success Collaborative – BEAR Central
Reports to: Provost


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Including name, current position, email, address and phone number. 
One file only.
256 MB limit.
Allowed types: pdf, doc, docx.