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Dean of the College of Liberal Studies

Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, Washington State
$150,000-$160,000 per year, with excellent benefits.
Date posted
Nov 2, 2023

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Position Type
Administrative, Deans
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Work Schedule:

Full-time; Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm. Some evenings and weekends may be required.

General Description:

Pacific Lutheran University seeks a visionary, enthusiastic, creative, and collaborative leader to serve as the Dean of the College of Liberal Studies. The dean provides strategic leadership and supervision of the college, including academic programs, faculty, and staff. The dean will exhibit an inclusive, self-aware leadership style; superior communication skills; and the ability to advocate for the college and work collegially and collaboratively with faculty, staff, senior leaders, alumni, and external partners to achieve goals that align with PLU’s academic mission and future plans.

As a member of the senior leadership team at a teaching-focused university, the dean will demonstrate our shared commitment to being an inclusive, rigorous, and innovative university in the tradition of Lutheran higher education. The ability to lead through times of change is especially important as the university navigates the current realities facing higher education and the complex challenges and opportunities of the future.

In addition to fulfilling the essential managerial functions and responsibilities of the role, the college dean will provide leadership in two key strategic areas:

1. Leadership and vision for the college

The dean will collaboratively implement the vision and mission of the college in alignment with the mission and strategic plan of the university, explicitly reflecting commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion among faculty, staff, and students. Importantly, this vision should build on the College of Liberal Studies’ many existing strengths, and on the opportunities for the college to be of service in society. The dean will support the creation of new, exciting opportunities for the future success of the college and its unique programs. Essential leadership qualities include: inspirational guidance of and advocacy for the college, the ability to articulate the value of the college and liberal arts, collaborative work to help achieve the vision of the college, external collaboration on behalf of the college, and effective strategic planning, including measurement of outcomes.


2. Stewardship of college resources for existing and future programs

Working collaboratively with the Office of the Provost and University Relations, the dean will take an active and enthusiastic role in identifying and securing external resources for the college, its programs, and the buildings that house them. In this regard, the dean will take the lead in creating new partnerships and engaging donors, while also leveraging existing expertise and donor connections among the faculty and staff in the college. The dean will convey to potential donors and partners a comprehensive vision for the college and its substantive contributions to care for our students and for a flourishing community. They will help build a compelling narrative for each program, including past successes and potential opportunities, and they will work to ensure that the fundamental opportunities for investment are well articulated.

College deans report to the Provost. Per the Faculty Handbook, deans hold the status of administrative faculty. Terms of service will be negotiated with the President as part of the appointment process.

Essential Functions and Responsibilities:

As a senior university administrator, the college dean will contribute to the ongoing vitality of the college and the university by advocating for the college and ensuring decisions made within the college support university priorities and commitments. The dean will be responsible for ensuring accountability to outcomes of annual program assessment, regular academic program review, Board of Regents’ actions, and expectations of university and program-specific accreditation requirements. The dean will avidly support faculty achievement, development, and excellence; ensure the appropriate level and range of commitments to pan-university curricular programs; facilitate the development and maintenance of student-centered scheduling practices; and ensure sustainable, diverse, and relevant curricula and consistent standards for curriculum management.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Operational Leadership:


  • Foster climate of positive and dynamic collaboration, participation, and engagement within the college and in relation to all areas of the University;
  • With administrative staff, oversee day-to-day management of college;
  • Facilitate development of college-wide practices and processes for staff/faculty mentorship, development, and review;
  • Demonstrate leadership in supporting, reviewing, and developing sustainable undergraduate/graduate/continuing education programs;
  • Convene on a regular basis with academic leaders within the college, and with the entire college on a schedule determined with college members;
  • Facilitate completion of all reports essential for effective administration of the college and its academic programs;
  • Serve on Provost’s Academic Council;
  • Represent Provost’s Academic Council and/or deans as called for in the PLU Faculty Handbook and as needed by the university;
  • Communicate regularly with college faculty/staff regarding issues raised with Provost’s Academic Council or other venues where the dean represents the college;
  • Partner with Admission, Registrar, Student Financial Services, and Center for Student Success in our mutual efforts to recruit, retain, and advise students;
  • Represent the college and university at local and national levels.

Personnel Leadership:

  • Enthusiastically support faculty development and innovations, including encouraging and facilitating professional growth and teaching excellence, and with regard to inclusive practices and student retention and persistence;
  • Sustain the vitality, growth, and rigor of both established and emerging faculty research/scholarship/creative activities;
  • Actively support the development and well-being of college staff;
  • Encourage and foster new college faculty in developing their teaching, scholarship, and service, as they work towards advancement at the university;
  • Lead the college with attention to university-wide initiatives regarding workplace wellbeing
  • Make recommendations for faculty appointments, promotions, salaries, and leaves;
  • Facilitate the appointments of faculty to university service/leadership positions as called for in the Faculty Handbook;
  • Facilitate the completion of timely and comprehensive faculty/chair/staff evaluations, in accordance with college and university policy;
  • Facilitate recommendations for student/faculty/staff awards.

Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Leadership:

  • Embed equity-minded practices into all decision-making processes;
  • Facilitate the establishment of diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and a process for assessing them for the college, as well as the programs within the college;
  • Provide leadership and oversight in meeting the university’s initiative to achieve its goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of the college, including teaching practices, curriculum, assessment, faculty/staff recruitment and development, student support, and administration;
  • Enthusiastically and actively lead and serve in ways that support the college’s progress on the Seven Actions to promote institutional equity and anti-racism at PLU as well as the Provost’s priorities to create a more racially just and equitable academic division.
  • Engage in continuous and concerted professional development and self-reflection around issues of identity, difference, power, and leadership.

Financial Leadership:

  • Ensure the financial health and future of the college by effectively stewarding and cultivating resources;
  • Collaborate with college faculty/staff to develop and administer the college’s budget; collaborate with deans/provost when resources across campus need to be prioritized;
  • Work with University Relations to enhance PLU’s development and alumni-engagement efforts, securing external funding and sponsorship for community-serving and student success initiatives, faculty research, facilities, and other university priorities.

Required Qualifications:

  • An earned doctorate or terminal degree;
  • A record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and academic administration in an area represented in the college;
  • A minimum of three years of academic leadership experiences;
  • Commitment to the ethos of Liberal Arts Education, and the ability to articulate its value to internal and external partners;
  • Commitment to the mission, vision, guiding principles, and philosophy of the university, and an appreciation for how the traditions of Lutheran higher education inform the mission and academic identity of the university;
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, and an understanding of their importance to the mission and success of the University;
  • A desire to understand, actively promote, and advocate for all programs within the college;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including active listening skills, effective communication, and the ability to manage conflict;
  • Demonstrated capacity for exercising fiscal responsibility and budget management;
  • Demonstrated strategic leadership and management experience;
  • Commitment to shared governance.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated successful experience with outcome assessment;
  • Experience with accreditation;
  • Success in fundraising or other close collaborations with University Relations.

Special Instructions to Applicants:

To apply, submit the following materials:


  • Cover letter summarizing your knowledge, skills and abilities for the position;
  • CV; and
  • Three professional references including contact information.


For questions or more information, please contact David Ward ( and/or Rebekah Mergenthal (

Other Information:

PLU is a small, private university where caring means more than kindness and consideration — it means a bold commitment to expanding well-being, opportunity, and justice. Because PLU is a community committed to the creation and advancement of knowledge through diversity and inclusion, the university actively recruits a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. PLU is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from members of historically underrepresented and minoritized groups, women, veterans, persons with disabilities, and others who would bring broadly diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in educational, research or other work activities.


PLU offers an excellent benefits package including tuition remission for employees and their dependents, generous retirement plan, medical, dental, paid vacation and sick leave, major holidays off (including Christmas/New Year’s break and extra time off during the summer), and many other great university benefits. PLU is a qualifying employer under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program as a 501©(3) tax-exempt organization. Click here for detailed benefits information.


For general application questions or if you need accommodations at any point in the application and/or interview process, please contact the Human Resources Office at 253-535-7185 or

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