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Director, New Student and Family Programs

American University
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Salary Not Specified
Date posted
Apr 11, 2024

American University is a student-centered research institution located in Washington, DC, with highly-ranked schools and colleges, internationally-renowned faculty, and a reputation for creating meaningful change in the world. Learn more about American University


Student Engagement & Success

Time Type:

Full time

Work Modality:

Hybrid 01 (On Campus 3-4 Days/Week)


Job Description:


The Director of New Student and Family Programs is a key leadership role reporting directly to the Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Success. The Director provides strategic direction and administrative oversight for the Center for New Student and Family Programs, driving institutional leadership and vision for the development and implementation of essential orientation, pre-orientation, family and on-boarding programs and services. Grounded in student development theory and best practices, these programs are designed to address the diverse needs and lived experiences of incoming students.

Recognizing the invaluable role of family engagement in student success, the Director ensures inclusive efforts that support both undergraduates and their families. Collaborating closely with campus partners and university leadership, the Director orchestrates a cohesive, student-centered onboarding experience that embodies the spirit and promise of American University.

Managing a dedicated team of professionals, para-professionals, and student staff, the Director oversees the support of over 2,000 students and 15,000+ families annually, with an annual budget exceeding $500,000. Through strategic leadership and unwavering commitment, the Director plays a pivotal role in shaping the successful transition and integration of new students and families into the AU community.

Essential Functions:

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

1. Strategic Planning & Program Leadership:
  • Collaborate with campus partners and staff to design and execute programs and resources that thoughtfully and cohesively prepare new students and their families to participate in the academic, co-curricular and campus life of the institution and commits to inclusive and innovative program design that allows for participation and content delivery in various formats to meet the needs of our diverse AU students and the persons that they consider their family members and supporters, this includes New Student Orientation, Pre-Orientation, Welcome Week, Family Weekend, and other general programs.

  • Engage in evaluation practices that foster continuous improvement; involving stakeholders to identify needs and trends, applying best practices, and analyzing feedback (qualitative and quantitative) mechanisms in order to develop and administer campus-wide orientation, welcome activities and family engagement strategies. Share timely and accurate reports and recommendations with the Assistant Vice President, Student Engagement & Success.

2. Communication:
  • Develop a strategic communication plan to inform, educate and engage new students and families. Lead efforts (in and outside of the department) to bring alignment to communication with new students and families in terms of university branding, consistent messaging, tone, inclusive language, and appropriate sequencing. Utilize various forms of media to convey content effectively (print, web, digital, social, webinars, recordings, etc.).

  • With the Associate Director, Family Engagement, develop a communication plan that demonstrates transparency in university decision-making, fosters trust, demonstrates the impact of their investments, and helps families to feel part of the AU Community. Serve as primary point of contact for AU’s family-facing communication.

  • Lead management of unexpected announcements, critical updates or crises communication with all families and with new students via various platforms as appropriate.

3. Campus Partnerships:
  • Represent the various needs of newly admitted first year and transfer students in working with campus partners and university leadership. Actively contribute to university committee work. Identify and address challenges and barriers to students and families as they transition to AU and lead or participate in problem-solving efforts. Develop strategic partnerships with academic units to enhance AU students’ academic and co-curricular experience. Serve as resource for members of Student Affairs Leadership Team in areas of expertise including Orientation, event management and execution, family engagement, and policy. Establish and maintain collaborative working relationships with offices on campus to promote student engagement, success, and retention. Serve on selected Student Affairs and university-wide committees, such as Student Thriving and Retention Action Team, and other campus committees and workgroups at the direction of the Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Success.

  • Continuously represent the concerns and affirmations of parents and families. Work with campus partners to foster a campus culture that welcomes and engages families in appropriate ways. Maintain an active relationship with the Parent Leadership Council and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

4. Supervision and Administration:
  • Hire and directly supervise full-time staff in New Student and Family Programs; indirectly supervise student orientation staff members, student workers and paraprofessionals. Ensure that staff have the resources and training to execute their assigned duties with high quality outcomes. Develop and manage departmental budget and resources with ethical stewardship in accordance with university policies, procedures, and values.

  • Evaluating and Implementing Ideas.

  • Building and Supporting Teams.

  • Developing Plans.

  • Championing Customer Needs.

  • Making Accurate Judgments and Decisions.

  • Managing Talent.

Supervisory Responsibility:
  • Directly supervises 2 FT employees: Associate Director for Family Engagement, the Associate Director for Orientation.

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work:
  • Full Time, 35/hours week with occasional evening and weekend commitments.

  • Project Leader/Advisor A.

  • Exempt.

Salary Range:
  • Commensurate with experience.

Required Education and Experience:
  • Master's degree.

  • 4-6 years of relevant experience.

Preferred Education and Experience:
  • PhD or equivalent in higher education, student affairs, counseling, training, or related field.

  • 5-8 years of relevant experience.

Additional Eligibility Qualifications:
  • Progressively responsible experience working with college students and a demonstrated ability to relate to students, families, professional colleagues and the public.

  • Evidence of an effective, collaborative leadership practice.

  • Knowledge of college student development theory and student transition issues.

  • Ability to lead strategic planning and assessment practices.

  • Demonstrated problem-solving, advocacy and decision-making skills. Ability to manage multiple/competing priorities in a fast-paced environment.

  • Well-developed supervisory, budgetary, written, presentation, organizational, time management, and interpersonal communication skills.


AU offers a competitive benefits package including a 200% matching retirement plan, tuition benefits for full-time staff and their families, several leadership development certificates, and has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a fit-friendly worksite. Click here to learn about American University's unique benefit options .

Other Details
  • Hiring offers for this position are contingent on successful completion of a background check.

  • Employees in staff positions at American University must deliver their services to the university from either the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia, or perform work on-site at the university.

  • Please note this job announcement is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

  • American University is an E-Verify employer.

Current American University Employees

American University current employees must apply through their employee Workday account. If you are a current employee at American University, please log into Workday and select the Find Jobs report which will take you to our internal career listings.

Contact Us

For more information or assistance with the American University careers site, email .

American University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution that operates in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual’s genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws (collectively "Protected Bases") in its programs and activities.

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