Sr. Director, Student Engagement Initiatives

University of Arizona

Sr. Director, Student Engagement Initiatives

University of Arizona


The Sr. Director, Student Engagement Initiatives provides vision and leadership to efforts to ensure that all University of Arizona students find support to create lives of opportunity aligned with their purpose and values. In particular, the Senior Director will lead and continue to build a team charged with integrating leadership, community engagement projects, internships and other high impact experiential learning into the academic and co-curricular experience of 100% of students. A signature of Arizona’s Student Engagement initiatives is our commitment to building capacity of staff, faculty and students to utilize human-centered design strategies in solving authentic challenges.


To succeed, the Sr. Director will lead a team of leadership and experiential learning educators to:

  • Build capacity among faculty and staff to offer community-engaged learning and other intentional forms of experiential learning within and beyond the classroom;

  • Expand equitable access to quality leadership and core skill development program offerings available to all students (for-credit or co-curricular);

  • Engage students directly in using human-centered design strategies within interdisciplinary teams to creatively solve challenges presented by the campus departments and the broader community;

  • Offer internship readiness programming in both for-credit an co-curricular self-paced options, administer the internship scholarship program and coordinate the University of Arizona Internship Council;

  • Create uniquely helpful strategies that make discovery, navigation and recognition of experiential learning opportunities easier and more meaningful for students and other stakeholders.


The Sr. Director currently has a staff of 10 which include staff for Experiential Learning Design, Leadership Programs, Assessment, Undergraduate Research Initiatives, and administrative staff. The Sr. Director will effectively collaborate with the Sr. Director, Career Development, to mutually align this work with that leader’s efforts to enhancing employer engagement, increase career-related alumni connections, and expand capacity of staff, faculty and peers throughout campus to prepare students to successfully apply for internship or job opportunities.

Reporting to: Assistant Vice President, Access, Engagement and Opportunity


Guide and develop managers of Leadership Programs and Experiential Learning Design and their team members toward bold objectives and individual key results that:

  • Continue to evolve our 100% Engagement model to leverage peers, platforms and partnerships in ways that promote integrated experiential learning for all undergraduates;

  • Maximize impact of the Blue Chip leadership experience to support retention of a large cohort of first-year and new transfer students, aligning their growing skills with values of integrity, diversity, service and excellence to enhance their academic experience and future careers;

  • Advance a shared and collaborative vision of our LifeLab as physical and digital navigational support that guides students as they chart a personal path to a purposeful immediate career or graduate school outcome through key milestones, including self-exploration, academic and co-curricular experiential learning opportunities and career skills development;

  • Collaborate with faculty and staff to make available tools, resources, funding and staff support that accelerates design and development of new opportunities for students to engage in effectively contributing solutions to authentic campus and community challenges. This includes leadership of the Design Lab at University of Arizona internship, Design Thinking Challenge program and the Experiential Learning Design Accelerator;

  • Provide programming that prepares students for community-engaged learning experiences, internships and other employment opportunities, including intentional skill development in collaboration, professional communication, human-centered research methods, creative problem solving and innovation strategies and other employable skills;

  • Provide quality instruction of for-credit courses in collaboration with the College of Education and other academic units;

  • Collaborate with internal communications team members as well as communicators serving the UA Foundation to increase the impact of philanthropic investment in internship scholarship opportunities

  • Promote a coordinated approach to internship readiness and related external community partnerships among academic units across campus;

  • Contribute to efforts to better connect students to additional work and learning opportunities, such as student employment, research, fellowships, leadership, service, graduate school preparation, etc;

  • Measure meaningful programmatic success metrics, grounded in a commitment to continuous improvement, equity and inclusiveness.

  • Build personal and university brand as a contributor to campus, local and national conversations about experiential learning, development of leadership, collaboration, communication and creative problem solving competencies in undergraduate students, and UA’s unique value proposition in preparing students for lives of opportunity.

Perform related duties as assigned or required to meet Department and University goals and objectives.


  • Master’s degree required.

  • Minimum of 9 years of related work experience, including 5 years of managerial experience, or equivalent combination of education and work experience.


  • The preferred candidate will have proven leadership and management skills, with previous successful experience supervising managers as well as individual contributors.

  • Strong multicultural competency and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Experienced in managing experiential learning programs, including both academic and co-curricular components.

  • Experience in managing budgets, sponsored projects and grants

  • Fundraising, promotional campaign management, and story-telling skills highly desirable.

  • Demonstrated experience with setting strategic team goals, creating meaningful performance indicators, and using data to drive continuous improvement.

  • Evidence of thought leadership and public engagement highly desirable.

  • Relevant terminal degree



Commensurate with Experience



Universities are defined by their people, and you could say the people here were born to challenge "business as usual." The University of Arizona existed before Arizona was a state. Our first graduating class in 1895 consisted of two women and one male. 

Since then, we've learned that we're better together. We do more when we work across backgrounds, skills and perspectives. That's how we've become long-time partners with NASA, leaders in both the arts and sciences, and able to prepare students to succeed in a world where most of the jobs today's kindergartners will have don't even exist yet. We know how to converge.


Working together to expand human potential, explore new horizons and enrich life for all.


We will continuously improve how we educate and innovate so we can lead the way in developing disruptive problem-solvers capable of tackling our greatest challenges.


To create a world where human potential is realized and we’re all working together to create solutions to big problems so that life in our communities, in Arizona and on our planet can thrive.

Our Core Values

INTEGRITY. Be honest, respectful and just.

COMPASSION. Choose to care.

EXPLORATION. Be insatiably curious. 

ADAPTATION. Stay open-minded and eager for what’s next.

INCLUSION. We’re better together.




In the Tucson area and beyond, the rich cultural heritage and storied history reflects a landscape found nowhere else on Earth. Venture off the beaten path and see what it means to free yourself. Explore barrio neighborhoods. Discover untouched corners of the vast Sonoran Desert. Look into the night sky with a million twinkling stars. Find freedom to roam from the depths of ancient caves to the tops of stunning mountain peaks.

Around Tucson, the area is divided into districts and neighborhoods -- some linked by streetcar, others connected by streets made for autos, bike lanes, and bus routes -- with varied options for outdoor adventures, sightseeing, eating, and entertainment. Beyond Tucson, the land is defined by county boundaries that hold pick-your-own farms, vineyards and wineries, revived real Old West towns, and Sky Island habitats and preserved natural spaces that beckon day-trippers from Tucson.



We are in a period of ongoing transformation toward realizing the UA’s 100% engagement commitment. This leader’s part in that is to provide uniquely helpful strategies to effectively expand impactful experiential learning opportunities equitably within a large and diverse student population.


The ideal candidate is futuristic and entrepreneurial, outcomes driven, able to both plan and execute initiatives through assignments of their team members, interested in scaling initiatives and persuading others within the department, on campus and in public to forge meaningful engagement in that strategy.


The ideal candidate possesses excellent skills in relationship development. These skills will be employed in hiring, training and motivating employees. They will also be important to developing and sustaining relationships with community and faculty partners, and to creating exciting connections with those partners within a complex, highly decentralized institution of public higher education.


The ideal candidate will exemplify a growth mindset, in both approach to professional and personal development. Ideally, this person will also apply that lens in considering aspects of program design and the language and images which we use present our offerings in response to the needs of students and other stakeholders. These skills plus excellent communication at all levels of the organization will be essential to effective change management.




Assistant Vice President, Access, Engagement & Opportunity


As Assistant Vice President, Abra McAndrew leads Student Engagement & Career Development. She provides vision and leadership in developing a nationally-recognized, sustainable strategy for growth of engaged learning on the campus and works to expand the division's capacity to deliver high quality, scaled engaged learning opportunities to students.


Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from Smith College, a Master’s in English and Linguistics from the University of Arizona’s College of Humanities, and an MBA from the Eller College of Management.


To apply, applicants should submit a cover letter and resume via the University of Arizona online application system.​ To ensure full consideration, complete applications must be received by midnight eastern time on February 17, 2020.


Contact with our search consultants from The Career Leadership Collective is encouraged for applicants. Nominations and applicant inquiries can be sent to John Durkin, Consultant:


All nominations, inquiries, and applications will be confidential.  Once a limited number of finalists are identified for campus interviews, names and résumés of finalists only may become public (finalists will be notified prior). References will not be called until after the first screening of applications and then only after the applicant has given explicit permission. 

This job description and prospectus has been designed to indicate the general nature, working conditions and level of work performed by employees within this job. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, working conditions and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job. 

At the University of Arizona, we value our inclusive climate because we know that diversity in experiences and perspectives is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and creating an inclusive academic community. As an Hispanic-serving institution, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience and expertise working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituencies. Because we seek a workforce with a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we provide equal employment opportunities to applicants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. As an Employer of National Service, we also welcome alumni of AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and other national service programs and others who will help us advance our Inclusive Excellence initiative aimed at creating a university that values student, staff and faculty engagement in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness.


Diversity of thought, experiences, and people are a top value of our company, embedded in all that we do. We invite and intentionally encourage this at all of our events and activities. 

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