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Director, Student Success Office

Date: June 27, 2013
Reports to (Job Title): Associate Provost, Students
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles):

Director, Learning Services

Director, VeloCity

Director, Student Experience

Director, Outreach & Engagement

Manager, Operations

Location: Main Campus
Grade: USG 16

Primary Purpose

The Director of the Student Success Office is accountable to the Associate Provost, Students for the development, management, administration, operation, rationalization and assessment of student success initiatives, programs and functions at the University of Waterloo.

Student success is fundamental to the mandate of the university. It is comprised of success in academic, experiential and social/community pursuits facilitated by contemporary student development practice targeting the creation of scholarly/intellectual, career/professional and cultural/civic competencies amongst students. Underlying enablers for students to attain these elements are mental and physical health/wellness, emotional maturity, personal life skills, and disability accommodation.

The challenge for the Director of the Student Success Office is to nurture a student success culture using leading initiatives, programs, facilities and functions on a university-wide basis. Such a culture needs to focus on the student holistically, be pervasive and integrated across all academic and academic support areas, incorporate contemporary student development theory and practice, and transform the student environment at UW into a highly engaged one with significant measurable growth in student success. This is a major undertaking for the university requiring an individual with superior leadership and project management skills, in depth understanding of the academic enterprise, solid student affairs expertise, the ability to accomplish in an environment of diverse priorities, broad acceptance across campus, a penchant for championing fundamental change and the ability to muster commitment, support and agreement across all functional and hierarchal lines.

Key Accountabilities:


Strategic Leadership

The Director of the Student Success Office must provide strategies, management, structure and process for the assessment, planning, initiation and provision of facilities, services, programs and initiatives in support of student success. He/she must ensure that these items are of high quality, reflect well on the university and are a positive factor in engaging, developing and retaining students. In creating, championing and implementing strategies that engender student success the Director must work closely and in concert with deans, associate deans, associate provosts, directors of student support units and the Associate Vice President, Academic.


Student Engagement, Success and Retention

The richest student experience results the extension of learning, both formally and informally, into all reaches of academic, experiential and community life. The Student Success Office is central to that learning. Accordingly, the Director must be skilled in developing approaches where the student and the institution respond well to each other and the student is strongly engaged in his/her learning program and university life. The Director must have an in-depth understanding of the role that transition, learning support and student development programs play in the retention of students and ensure that those programs have the highest potential to ensure student success. He/she must work in partnership with the academic enterprise to provide initiatives, programs and facilities to enhance student retention.



Overall managerial responsibilities for the units in the Student Success Office including hiring, staff performance, salary administration, promotions, reclassifications and disciplinary issues. He/she must exercise skill in managing people and provide them with a productive environment and career opportunities. The incumbent manages staff through effective recruitment, selection, training, and assignment of personnel, organization of functions, establishment of policies, procedures and standards, monitoring of performance and focusing of staff efforts on university goals. The Director guides the directors and managers in the Student Success Office in the effective management of their areas. He/she assists the overall management of UW by participating in the decision-making processes of the other units reporting to the Associate Provost, Students and of other appropriate management bodies of the university.


Service to Students

The Director will ensure strategies are in place to research and understand the continuously evolving needs of students and supports required.  With this information, the Director will develop highly effective and collaborative relationships within the student services portfolio as well as across campus to optimize service delivery to students.  To do so, the Director will work to nurture a strong student-centered mindset campus-wide in an effort to ensure services provided are of the highest quality and relevance.


International Student Support

Though all services are open to all students, the Director must be sensitive to the unique and additional needs of international students. He/she must understand these needs, and provide for them in a way that integrates international students with the UW experience while addressing the needs of those from other countries, cultures or educational systems.


Entrepreneurship support

Entrepreneurship has been a distinctive strength at uWaterloo and is a key pillar in our strategic plan. The VeloCity operation is critical to the institution’s entrepreneurial aspirations, and the Director, SSO plays a key role in providing guidance and support to ensure its continued success. The Director will work closely with VeloCity staff, the Special Advisor to the President on entrepreneurship, CBET, CECA, and others to ensure that there is alignment across the institution between our various entrepreneurship related initiatives.

Position Requirements


University degree required (graduate preferred).


Several years leadership experience in student services/student affairs in a university environment required. Demonstrated ability to develop and implement institution-wide student success strategies and initiatives. A high level strategic, analytical, communication and interpersonal skills is required. Demonstrated ability to work both collaboratively and entrepreneurially is essential. A strong student-focused orientation and philosophy is also critical.


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Basic Basic Basic Not required

Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Interpersonal Contacts: Associate Deans, Directors of non-academic units. Associate Provost Academic

Level of Responsibility:


Decision-Making Authority:

This position has final decision-making authority for all items outlined above.

Physical and Sensory Demands:

Minimal demands typical of a senior position operating within an office environment

Working Environment:

Exposed to stress and pressure associated with senior level responsibilities. Involves moderate psychological risk resulting from unavoidable exposure to hazardous, disagreeable or uncomfortable environmental conditions. There may be unusual hours or schedules, multiple and/or tight deadlines beyond one's control, and constant interruptions (e.g. phone calls, e-mails and unplanned but urgent support requests, varying student volume).