Dean - College of Professional Studies

California, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Oct 23, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

National University, a private nonprofit leader among adult learners, seeks a new Dean of the College of Professional Studies.  The Dean's primary responsibilities will be to promote NU's mission "to deliver an exceptional student experience by providing superior programs and services that are relevant and result in meaningful learning."

NU 2023, our strategic plan, has five interrelated priorities:

  • Increase access to adult learners nationwide by offering a variety of programs asynchronously online.
  • Reduce the costs to students and continue to do so until our most deserving students receive an education with no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Implement precision education as an operational strategy to improve student success.
  • Build an infrastructure to support innovative instruction.
  • Create a culture that attracts and retains top talent, including transparent communication and inclusion.

NU 2023 emphasizes the priority to invest in retention and completion initiatives so that each student will realize his or her personal goals and contribute to the University's vision to "make positive contributions to the transformation of society." NU's approach to assuring student success is defined by precision education as an operational strategy, including assessment-led, adaptive instruction, holistic student support, and competency-based credentialing.

The Dean will be responsible for building and implementing a plan.  Collaboration with senior leadership and the National University System is critical for this role.  The successful candidate will be energetic, inspiring, and forward-thinking with a track-record of capacity to advance an ambitious mission with an innovative strategy.

Through years of fiscal responsibility, the Board of Trustees built a substantial financial reserve.  The Board of Trustees and the Chancellor have authorized an aggressive strategy and support to build on NU's success.  The Dean will continue to develop partnerships with the community and provide responsible financial management.  The Dean will have access to a discretionary budget tied to an endowed fund.

In 2019, NU consolidated four schools into the College of Professional Studies and stated that its overall mission is to provide workforce-relevant education.  The four schools that combined to form the College were: engineering, business, health & human services, and professional studies.  Programs and faculty belong to one of the following departments: Health Sciences, Leadership and Human Resources Management, Marketing and Management, Nursing, Professional Studies, Accounting, Finance, and Economics, Engineering and Computing, and Community Health.  A chair heads each department.  A program lead directs each program (for a complete list of programs, please see: 

National University is the flagship university of the National University System.  Sister universities include JFK University, City University of Seattle, and the recently acquired Northcentral University.  Also, National University owns a Virtual High School.  NUS has 45,000 students and 250,000 alumni. 


The College of Professional Studies provides a unique opportunity to leverage several professional disciplines to serve the various workforce needs online throughout the nation.  Forty-five programs account for 11,175 students.  The College has 91 full-time faculty and 830 adjunct faculty.  Each department has signature programs, including but not limited to public health, cybersecurity, nursing, business administration, homeland security, organizational leadership, and accounting.  The mission of the College of Professional Studies is to provide workforce relevant degrees for the next generation of learners who are expecting innovation, quality, and academic excellence woven into an exceptional student experience that is immediately applicable in the workplace.


Covid-19 and the surge in unemployment will likely increase demand for professional degrees with online delivery.  With energetic leadership, NU is in a stable position to secure a future to serve a higher number of underserved students, at a lower cost, with the appropriate student support to assure success.  As the primary strategic leader of the College, the Dean provides support for the faculty, staff, and students by creating an inclusive environment for instructional excellence, scholarship, research, and professional engagement, as well as service to the University and community. The Dean is responsible for exceptionally high-value academic programs, with the implementation of precision education as an operational strategy.  The Dean will demonstrate an insight for managing the fiscal and human resources of the College. The Dean is responsible for building partnerships with alumni and the community, and for seeking supplemental financial support for both new and existing programs and professional development. The successful candidate will demonstrate the leadership ability to distinguish the College of Professional Studies as a provider of exceptionally high-value programs to an adult learner population. It is the charge of the Dean to build on the success of each department by further strengthening the individual programs and by enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration and integration among appropriate disciplines inside and outside the College. The Dean participates in the development of university-wide initiatives as a member of the Provost's Council.  The Dean is appointed by the President and reports directly to the Provost and Executive Vice President.

Partnering with the administration, faculty, students, and staff, the Dean will build on the upward growth of the College of Professional Studies.  The Dean will oversee a $35M budget and an endowment with a yearly payout. The Dean will need to address the following opportunities and challenges:


Lead the development and implementation of a strategic vision for the College of Professional Studies

As a visible and engaged leader, the Dean will collaborate with stakeholders to drive the strategic plan of the College that aligns with NU 2023.  The Dean must use clear communication and a shared approach to building a strategic plan and implementing it.  It is the Dean's responsibility to lead the College to create and facilitate partnerships with other colleges and entities in the University and with its sister affiliates.  The Dean should help the College capitalize on trends in the community to grow and assure student success.  The Dean should ensure that a clear vision and message on the value-added programs to prospective students and alumni and community, regional and national contacts.  The Dean must recognize that developing plans will require broad consultation.  The Dean must build a partnership with faculty, staff, students, advisory board members, University partners, and stakeholders in the community.  The plans should reflect NU's desire to be an innovator in the adult education marketplace.  The plan should identify areas for growth and outline a financial plan to support all activities and improvements clearly and transparently. It should engage and excite internal and potentially external stakeholders.  While the Dean will continue to leverage existing resources such as the endowment, he/she should make the endowment's purpose clear to constituents and ensure an aligned, principled and equitable use of endowment funds about the College's vision and strategic plan. 

Retain and develop faculty and staff

Part of the strategic plan will involve the creation of a culture of cohesion and inclusion. By creating an environment that is engaged, dynamic, and forward-thinking, the Dean will help attract excellent and diverse faculty to the College. As part of recruiting and retaining strong faculty, the Dean will foster mentoring and training for all members of the College, particularly for junior faculty. Above all, the Dean will pursue a culture of professionalism, modeling dependable and robust leadership. This will include oversight of the Associate Dean, Chair, leads, faculty and staff.

Drive student success in a diverse environment

The College of Professional Studies has a heterogeneous student population emerging from an open access model.  The Dean needs to create an infrastructure to understand the needs of students and build an ecosystem to address those needs.  The Dean will have the opportunity to rely on the university-wide model for increasing retention and graduation rates.  National University has endowment resources to invest in opportunity and fast-track scholarships to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to the existing support, the Dean should continue to support developing programs, content, research, and experiential opportunities that enable students to be ready for employment. To develop a strong sense of community and pride within the College of Professional Studies, the Dean will create opportunities to celebrate student success publicly.  The Dean will help to connect alumni with students and strengthen those networks for mutual benefit.

Increase external industry partnerships and fundraising

The Dean will be an external advocate of the College of Professional Studies. As a representative of the school, she/he will be a leading voice in professional studies nationally and internationally. The College has a vibrant advisory board, who serves as a source of needs of the community.  As the leader of the College, the Dean will grow external relations with industry, nonprofits, and other institutions and create public-private partnerships.  With a national presence, industry partnerships exist throughout the College, and the Dean will have the opportunity to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset, identify synergies, and support and leverage a network to connect to faculty and students. The Dean creates a fundraising plan and communicates the idea to all constituencies. Increased visibility within the community will not only help the College to reach its fundraising goals but also help further define and implement the College's strategic direction.


The Dean must have the ability to design and implement a strategic vision and precision education as an operational strategy.  He or she must also have the passion, energy, and stamina for the job. He or she must commit to the ideals of open access, lower cost of education, innovation, market relevance, and student success.  The Dean must be able to work creatively with others to discover the best response to the opportunities and challenges facing the University and must develop respect for all members of the University community.

An ideal candidate should demonstrate evidence of the following:

  • Significant academic and administrative experience
  • An earned doctorate or another terminal degree
  • A demonstrated capacity for leadership of a multi-disciplinary unit
  • A capacity of leading and supporting a diverse faculty and staff by facilitating a collegial culture
  • Evidence of a strong commitment to growth
  • A commitment to technology to enhance student learning
  • A demonstrated commitment to innovations in supporting student success
  • A proven record in building partnerships with alumni and the community
  • Experience in the design and continuous implementation of the strategic planning process
  • Experience and commitment to building a comprehensive program of advancement activities
  • Ability to work effectively with a diverse campus community and commitment to support and expand inclusive excellence
  • A command of significant business, health, professional, and technological issues to help build educational solutions



Salary is commensurate with the background and experience.


NUS Human Resources will conduct the search.  The search committee will review nominations and applications until the position is filled. However, to ensure full consideration, applicants are encouraged to submit materials by November 30, 2020. The anticipated starting date for the position is May 1, 2021. Contact NUS HR for nominations and inquiries @  Each applicant must provide a detailed curriculum vitae or resume and a cover letter. The cover letter should address the requirements for the job: lead the development and implementation of the strategic plan, retain and develop faculty and staff, drive student success in a diverse and diverse environment, and increase external industry partnerships and fundraising.  National University embraces the philosophy that diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees, and our community. NU's commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring, and retention.