Often, when a new position is being created or an existing position revised, the hiring manager or Human Resources department contacts their counterpart at other higher education institutions and asks for that institution’s position description to use as an example. This practice does not suffice when the needs of the institution are changing such that a different type of professional and additional skill sets and experience are required. It is for this reason that we offer the following generic sample position descriptions. These positions include responsibilities and qualifications that are beneficial to colleges and universities in meeting changing accreditation standards and in establishing and achieving strategic and operational goals that assure institutional sustainability in the turbulent higher education environment.
These position descriptions can be freely adapted by any higher education institution that wishes to use them. The major distinction between the two positions is that the Executive Vice President/Vice President position includes a greater focus on leading institutional change and the Associate Vice President/Associate Provost position includes more focus on analytics. Both, however, are leadership positions with responsibility for managing an integrated office and fostering evidence-based planning and decision making.
Executive Vice President or Vice President
- Position Summary: As a member of the President’s Cabinet, this senior leadership position is responsible for leading the development and sustainability of an institutional culture of evidence-based decision making and improvement and for aligning strategic planning, budgeting, assessment and analytics to support achievement of institutional goals. In collaboration with the President, the EVP/VP leads development of the institution’s strategy and long-term plan. Working with the senior leadership team and other key members of the institution, s/he develops operational plans and organizational systems and processes to achieve the strategy and evaluates progress on key goals. The EVP/VP leads cross-functional institutional initiatives, assuring implementation, monitoring progress, and facilitating change as needed.
Associate Vice President or Associate Provost
- Position Summary: As a member of the Provost’s leadership team, this high visibility position serves as a strategic partner in creating an environment that promotes and supports using research and data analysis to guide decision making and institutional improvement. The AVP/AP leads development of a comprehensive, integrated system of data collection, research, assessment, evaluation and reporting that supports strategic, academic and operational planning. S/he evaluates progress on key goals, works with faculty to assure academic quality, and seeks solutions to achieve effective programs and operations. The AVP/AP is responsible for proactive questioning and targeted research and analyses on a wide range of institutional and academic issues and synthesizing diverse data points into a coherent set of actionable findings and recommendations.
To make these titles more specific, we recommend focusing on what is expected to be achieved, rather than the functions within the office or the tools it uses. For example, Effectiveness, Strategy, Quality, or Improvement, rather than Institutional Research, Outcomes Assessment, or Planning. For example, Vice President for Strategy and Effectiveness or Associate Provost for Quality and Improvement.