Assistant Director for Orientation and Transitions (Student Affairs Assistant Director)

  • Southern Methodist University
  • Dallas, TX, USA
  • Jan 13, 2023
Full time Education

Job Description

Salary Range: 

Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications

About SMU

SMU’s more than 12,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and 80 countries to take advantage of the University’s small classes, hands-on research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs. The University offers a strong foundation in the humanities and sciences and undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs through eight schools.

Now in its second century of achievement, SMU is increasingly recognized for the ways it supports students, faculty and alumni as they become ethical leaders in their professions and communities. The University’s entrepreneurial spirit lives in people from every academic discipline who see opportunities to create something new in the world – and work hard to bring their innovations to life. SMU’s relationship with Dallas – the dynamic center of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions – offers unique learning, research, social and career opportunities that provide a launch pad for our students, faculty and alumni to make a global impact. On the most beautiful college campus in the country, SMU Mustangs are energized by unbridled opportunities – from teaching, learning and research to creativity, performance and athletic endeavor.

About the Department:

The Division of Student Affairs creates and supports a robust student experience and forges strategic partnerships to best serve the entire SMU community. As educators and scholar-practitioners, we create purposeful learning and leadership opportunities for students to clarify and develop their knowledge, values, skills, and identities - challenging each to become a world changer. The Division of Student Affairs creates and supports a robust student experience and forges strategic partnerships to best serve the entire SMU community. As educators and scholar-practitioners, we create purposeful learning and leadership opportunities for students to clarify and develop their knowledge, values, skills, and identities - challenging each to become a world changer.

Orientation at SMU is a three-step process. Through Mustang StartUp, Stampede, and First 5, our mission is to prepare students for life at SMU.

About the Position:

This role is an on-campus, in-person position.

The Student Affairs Assistant Director for New Student Orientation and Transitions is responsible for supporting the vision, initiatives, programs, and daily operations transition programs for SMU undergraduate students. The Assistant Director will serve as the lead within the team for orientation programming for all new undergraduate students designed to support student success and transitions, as well as promote institutional affinity. The Assistant Director will work with partners across campus to understand and meet the needs of matriculating students and their families to ensure they have a positive experience during orientation programs. Will serve as the lead and primary coordinator for major transition programs including Fall and Spring versions of Mustang Startup, Stampede, and other critical transition programs.

Essential Functions:

  • Serves as the orientation lead for the Division of Student Affairs. Ensure cohesion across all orientation programs including Virtual Orientation and Stampede, SMU's extended orientation program, for students beginning in both August and January. Works collaboratively with partners across campus to strategically streamline new student processes associated with transitioning onto the Hilltop.

  • Manages the full lifecycle of the orientation team, including designing curriculum for and facilitating the Orientation Leadership Institute course for Orientation Leaders and summer training for OLs. Supervises one graduate assistant hired to support and enhance orientation programs. Supports student workers and student leaders connected to the office.

  • Maintains and strategically enhances the orientation-focused websites, social media, communications, and publications. Identifies and develops metrics for digital engagement and communication efforts for new students throughout the matriculation process. This position serves as the primary liaison to the division's central marketing area.

  • Serves as a participant and leader on the university's New Student Transitions workgroup representing the student affairs contributions to the student matriculation process. Takes on leadership roles for projects related to NST work including but not limited to communication and the editorial calendar, working in Slate, and collaborating with other Student Affairs units and campus partners.

  • Supports the implementation and realization of the goals and learning domains in the student affairs strategic plan.

  • Other duties as assigned.

  • Occasional evening and weekend hours are required.


Education and Experience:

A Master’s degree is required; focus in higher education, counseling and student personnel, or student affairs administration is preferred.

Three years’ full-time professional work experience is required.

Previous higher education experience required, particularly experience in programming, large-scale event planning, and student advising, training, teaching, and facilitation.

Individuals active or engaged in professional associations such as NODA or NASPA and ACPA's orientation and transition communities of practice is preferred.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Candidate must demonstrate strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills, with the ability to communicate broadly across the University and develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of constituencies. Must also demonstrate strong written communication skills.

Candidate must possess strong problem-solving skills with the ability to identify and analyze problems, as well as devise solutions. Must also have strong organizational, planning and time management skills.  

Requires a demonstrated commitment to student development and training. 

Candidate must be familiar with theories and best practices related to the field of orientation, transitions, and retention.

Candidate must work well with students in counseling, teaching, and advising situations.

Knowledge or willingness to learn basic project management practices is essential.

Must possess high-level, interpersonal and networking skills, as well as a professional demeanor that thrives in an intense deadline-filled environment.

Candidate proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and other related programs is essential.   

Candidate experience with (or a willingness to learn) Asana, Adobe Creative Suite and web editing software, such as Sitecore is preferred.

Physical and Environmental Demands:

  • Sit for long periods of time
  • Bend, squat, stand, kneel

  • Carry/lift 25 lbs.

  • Handle objects (dexterity)

  • Push/pull

Deadline to Apply:

Submissions received by February 5, may receive priority consideration. 

This position is open until filled. 

EEO Statement:

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,


SMU offers staff a broad, competitive array of health and related benefits. In addition to traditional benefits such as health, dental, and vision plans, SMU offers a wide range of wellness programs to help attract, support, and retain our employees whose work continues to make SMU an outstanding education and research institution.

SMU is committed to providing an array of retirement programs that benefit and protect you and your family throughout your working years at SMU and, if you meet SMU's retirement eligibility criteria, during your retirement years after you leave SMU.

The value of learning at SMU isn't just about preparing our students for the future. Employees have access to a wide variety of professional and personal development opportunities, including tuition benefits.