Director, College Access Programs

Texas, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Jun 17, 2021
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Job Summary:

The Director will oversee strategy and operations for Simmons' College Access Programs which focus on student readiness for college and career success.  The five programs include Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math Science, McNair Scholars, and College Knowledge. The Director should have experience obtaining and managing multiple federal grants and contracts, possess an understanding of college and career readiness programming, and experience working with youth in urban education settings.  This position requires a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion.  The Director should demonstrate skill leading and managing large teams that include full-time staff, graduate assistants, and tutors, as well as excellent partnership and community engagement skills in order to develop and sustain critical partnerships with state and local education agencies, and partnering schools. 


Essential Functions:

Strategic leadership.  Provide leadership for long-term strategic operation, sustainability and growth of College Access Programs.  Lead new grant applications. Set and execute strategy for sustained grant-funded College Access programming and create or pursue opportunities for growth.


Oversee student selection process for federal programs to ensure that all selected participants meet program eligibility criteria.  Ensure that proper documentation of eligibility is maintained and reported to funding agencies as required.  Monitor the timely collection and reporting for all grant funded programs.  Ensure that programs meet and adhere to all required annual and interim reporting.


Plan and execute programmatic initiatives.  Evaluate and select curriculum materials that support student success.  Approve plans to provide academic support (e.g. tutoring and supplemental instruction), college tours, business or industry tours, and cultural enrichment.  Collaborate with staff to plan summer programs including academies and institutes held at the University.


Directly supervise fulltime staff including 5 program leaders and 3 administrative staff.  Indirectly supervise 11 other fulltime staff and 10 or more graduate assistants. Oversee all aspects of fulltime staff management including professional development, staff selection and performance evaluation. Coordinate with Simmons graduate programs to identify, recruit, and onboard graduate assistants.


Manage all day-to-day operational aspects of College Access programs.  Ensure adherence to operational plans as outlined in federal grant proposals or contractual agreements, federal grant regulations and compliance with university policies.


Support Simmons’ initiatives including the West Dallas STEM School. Serve as a key resource,

thought partner and support to a number of initiatives embedded within the larger West Dallas STEM School project.  Roles could include supporting the Bridge Team, which helps link PreK-8 to 9-12th grade and beyond, supporting Middle School College and Career Readiness programming that will take place at the school, and/or assisting Simmons and project partners in replication efforts.


Represent the Simmons School of Education and College Access Programs in partnerships with Dallas ISD, Garland ISD, Lancaster ISD, Desoto ISD, and regional colleges and universities. Develop partnerships with nonprofits and business/industry organizations that support student readiness and success in college and career.


Education and Experience:

Must have an earned doctorate (Ph.D. or Ed.D.) and be able to serve as a Principal Investigator on grants.


A minimum of five years of program management experience is required, preferably in higher education.


Experience writing and leading federal grants is required.  Experience specifically with College Access grants is preferred.  Experience leading grants within a university setting is also preferred.


Must have understanding of the academic and social/emotional needs of low-income and potential first-generation college students. 


Current knowledge regarding college and career readiness research and evidence-based practices is required.


Experience managing large data systems including data collection and reporting, and managing evaluation of grant projects is required.


Must have five years of supervisory/management experience.


Experience with Microsoft Suite is required.  Experience with Adobe, and Federal grant management systems is preferred.


CITI/IRB training, or other university or grant-specific training is required upon hire.


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Candidate must have excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as excellent interpersonal skills to communicate effectively and build relationships with a wide range of constituencies in a diverse community.


Candidate should have excellent leadership skills with the ability to develop and lead staff.


Candidate must possess strategic thinking and long term planning skills for program enhancement and growth.


Must have strong problem solving skills and be able to devise effective solutions using substantial resourcefulness, negotiation and diplomacy.


Must have excellent organizational and project management skills.


Candidate must possess a strong focus on attention to detail and the ability to create accurate reports and analysis.


Occasional evening or weekend work may be required for project or grant-related activities, community events or program camps.


Occasional travel may be required related to conference presentations, grant-related gatherings/meetings.


Deadline to Apply:

This position is open until filled.


Physical/Environmental Demands:

This position must be able to:


  • Sit for long periods of time
  • Handle objects (dexterity)


To Apply: 

Please visit our website

to access the online application.  See Working at SMU. Click on Staff Career Opportunities and apply to:  Director, College Access Programs (Simmons School of Education & Human Development) (SIM00000118)

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,