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Position Prospectus

The Search

Emory University seeks an accomplished higher education leader with a passion for student life to serve as its next Associate Vice President (AVP) for Finance, Administration, and Operations in Emory Campus Life.

Committed to courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, healthcare, and social action, Emory University is one of the world’s finest institutions of higher education. This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced and creative professional to support the growth of a dynamic and inclusive student experience.

Reporting to the Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life, the AVP provides strategic direction and oversight for the following units: Housing, Dining, Bookstore, Technical Services, Dobbs University Center, Finance Service Center, Human Resources, Ombudsperson, and Learning and Innovation. The AVP serves as a member of the Emory Campus Life Executive Team, and will oversee a budget of nearly $75 million and a staff of more than 60, including eight direct reports.

The successful candidate must have solid financial acumen and strong analytical and technical skills. The AVP must have experience with financial analysis and reporting in a higher education environment with knowledge and/or experience of other operational areas, particularly facilities management, human resources management, and information technology. The successful candidate must be committed to the education and development of a diverse student body.

Emory University has retained the services of Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in conducting this important search. All inquiries, applications, and nominations for this opportunity should be directed to the search firm, as indicated at the end of this document.

Emory University


In 1836, the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Emory College in the town of Oxford, Georgia. By the 20th century, the small liberal arts college began offering additional programs to its students, including degrees in the sciences, law, theology, technology, and tool craft.

The trustees of Emory College were eager to continue expanding the institution and agreed that their higher aspirations would necessitate a move to a more urban, central location. In 1914, after a falling out between the Methodist Church and Vanderbilt University, church leaders identified Emory as the institution that would become their landmark university in the Southeast. Asa Candler, the founder of The Coca-Cola Company and brother to former Emory President Warren Candler, helped the church identify Atlanta as the university’s new home. Writing to the Educational Commission of the church on June 17, 1914, Candler offered $1 million and a subsequent gift of 72 acres of land.

In November 1979, the course of Emory's history changed dramatically. Robert Woodruff, an Emory alumnus and former chairman of The Coca-Cola Company, and his brother, George, transferred to Emory $105 million in Coca-Cola stock (worth nearly $1 billion dollars in 2005). At the time the largest single gift to any institution of higher education in American history, the Woodruff donation made a profound impact on Emory's direction over the next two decades, boosting the university into the top ranks of American research universities. In the decades since, Emory has built on its considerable strengths in the arts and humanities, the health sciences, and the professions through strategic use of resources.


Emory is recognized internationally for its outstanding liberal arts college, superb professional schools, and one of the Southeast’s leading health care systems. The university’s mission is “to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.” To fulfill this mission, Emory supports the full range of scholarship – from undergraduate to advanced graduate and professional instruction, and from basic research to the many applications for such research in serving the public good.

The university’s mission is further supported by an internationally recognized faculty, dynamic staff, superb facilities, and the latest innovations in technology and environmental sustainability. Emory maintains an uncommon balance for an institution of its standing: It generates more research funding than any other university in Georgia, while maintaining its traditional emphasis on teaching. 

Emory University comprises nine undergraduate and graduate schools: Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Goizueta Business School, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, School of Medicine, School of Law, James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies, Rollins School of Public Health, and Candler School of Theology.

Emory University is consistently recognized for its outstanding programs. U.S. News & World Report rated Emory 21st in their 2016 report of America’s best national universities and eighth on their list of Best Value Schools. The Goizueta Business School was ranked seventh among undergraduate business programs by BusinessWeek. Additionally, Emory received the 2013 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, which honors U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to building a diverse and inclusive campus community. The institution is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Emory is the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the top 20 national research universities and is the only one that remains religiously chartered. The university enrolls more than 14,700 graduate and undergraduate students from 50 states and 140 nations; approximately 21 percent of first-year students are international. In 2007, the university launched Emory Advantage, a financial aid initiative to help reduce the amount of money students from families with annual total incomes of $100,000 or less need to borrow to pay for an undergraduate education at Emory. In 2014-15, through this program and others, Emory awarded more than $182 million in financial aid to undergraduate students, including both need-based and merit-based aid. Nearly 71 percent of the aid was provided directly by Emory. 

Emory’s world class faculty of more than 3,000 includes exceptional instructors and groundbreaking researchers. All members of Emory’s full-time faculty hold the highest degrees in their field; individual faculty excellence includes scholarly achievement, teaching and advising, the potential to create new knowledge, and a clear dedication to service. Past faculty at Emory include Nobel Peace Prize winners such as: former President Jimmy Carter; His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Emory boasts an unmatched and enviable array of resources and facilities, including seven libraries and special collections offering more than 3.5 million volumes. The institution has more than 70 research centers and received over $572 million in research awards in FY 2015, including more than $318 million from the National Institutes of Health.  In 2011, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that during the previous four decades, Emory ranked as the most prolific private university in America with respect to the discovery of new drug therapies.

The university’s central campus is located on more than 650 hilly and wooded acres, approximately six miles from downtown Atlanta. Emory has one of the largest campus inventories of LEED-certified building space in the nation, as well as one of the longest-running programs of its kind in the country to integrate sustainability into a university curriculum. Emory students and faculty have access to and benefit from the proximity of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, as well as the national headquarters of both the American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Religion.

One mile from the main campus is Emory’s Briarcliff Campus, a 42-acre campus initially designated to establish a biotechnology development center in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, but also used for other university offices and functions.  Roughly one mile in the opposite direction is Emory’s Clairmont Campus, which is connected to the main campus by a private shuttle road and includes a major student residential and activity complex, plus facilities such as the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, the Mason Guest House for Organ Transplant Patients, and the Autism Resource Center. 

Emory University maintains a consolidated operating budget of $4.8 billion, an endowment with a market value of $6.7 billion (ranked 16th among all U.S. universities), as of June 2015, and an annual economic impact on Metropolitan Atlanta in excess of $5.1 billion. With almost 30,000 employees, Emory is the largest employer in DeKalb County, one of the four largest private employers in the 10-county Atlanta metro area, and the fifth largest in Georgia.

University Leadership

Claire Sterk, President-Elect

On June 3, 2016, the Emory University Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Claire E. Sterk as the university’s 20th president. Sterk served most recently as Emory’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. She will assume her new role on September 1, 2016, succeeding James W. Wagner, who is retiring after 13 years as president. 

Sterk has been a member of the Emory community since 1995, when she was appointed to the faculty of the Rollins School of Public Health. During her tenure at Emory, she has served as the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health, Chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Associate Dean for Research, and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. She was named Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2013.

Ajay Nair, Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life

Ajay Nair, the Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life, is an accomplished scholar and student affairs leader with an interest in diversity and inclusion. As Emory’s chief student advocate for nearly 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Nair shoulders a broad portfolio of responsibilities, ranging from intercollegiate athletics and the Greek experience to student health services and residence life. He also provides leadership and strategic direction in cultivating an ethically engaged community consistent with Emory’s vision. 

Previously, Nair served as Senior Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. He also has held positions at Columbia University, Penn State University, and the University of Virginia. During his tenure in higher education, he has served as a faculty member, student affairs administrator, and academic administrator.

Emory Campus Life

Emory Campus Life, a community recognized internationally for advancing education into action and delivering world-class programs and services, promotes a healthy and sustainable environment where students “live what they learn and learn what they live” for self and society. Emory Campus Life catalyzes a distinctive, caring, inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, polycultural, and socially just community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, families, and visitors who imagine and lead positive transformation in the world.

The Campus Life staff, which consists of nearly 300 employees, helps to ensure that all community members have support and motivation to manage their challenges and opportunities. They believe engagement in the residential experience contributes powerfully to the completeness of a liberal arts education, an affinity for the institution, a heightened value for community, and a thirst for lifelong learning.

To view the Emory Campus Life Organizational Chart, visit:

Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory

In December 2012, growing student concerns sparked formation of an ad-hoc committee to explore issues of race, gender, sexual violence, privilege, and oppression on campus. This committee, composed of student leaders, faculty, and administrators from Emory Campus Life, created an online forum to gather student feedback, which resulted in two university-wide open discussion forums. The subsequent report lists recommendations now reflected in the organization’s commitment to ensuring an inclusive, equitable, and just environment that empowers all members of the Emory community to thrive. This was an early step toward shifting culture and enhancing community to better enable Emory to become the university that it envisions.

Learn more at:

Emory Commission on Racial and Social Justice

A more recent expression of Campus Life’s commitment to a more equitable and inclusive university community began last fall with the 13 demands for racial justice presented to the university administration by the Black Students of Emory. Campus Life helped to lead the university’s response and communicate the institution’s commitment to substantive engagement with students. The resulting partnership produced a Racial Justice Retreat that brought together students, staff, faculty, and administrators to address each student demand. Underscoring its long-term commitment, the university established the Emory Commission on Racial and Social Justice – consisting of students, staff, faculty, and administrators – and has allocated unprecedented resources to the initiative. 

Learn more at:

Emory Campus Life Strategic Plan

The Emory Campus Life Strategic Plan, Redefining the Center, provides a foundation for a dynamic division that embraces higher education’s challenges and opportunities in demographics, technology, politics, and more. Our approach represents a significant pivot from traditional student affairs strategic plans. 

The planning process began with the development of our current vision, mission, credo, and core values by a representative committee and our Executive Leadership Team. As part of this ongoing process, departments currently are developing individual strategic plans with an emphasis on common themes and creative collaboration with other departments and organizations across the campus and the metro community. 

Campus Life Operations

The portfolio for the next AVP for Finance, Administration, and Operations includes: Dobbs University Center, Housing, Dining, Technical Services, Bookstore, Finance Service Center, Human Resources, Learning and Innovation, and Ombudsperson.

Dobbs University Center

Opened in 1986, the Dobbs University Center (DUC) is the nexus of community life and part of Emory’s educational program. In 2013, Emory Campus Life launched an eight-month feasibility study focused on renovating and expanding the DUC. It proposed the most extensive changes to the structure since 1986. The need for change was driven not only by growing space demands, but a desire for a larger and more flexible and efficient dining operation, upgrades to technology and infrastructure, and more room for student organizations and gathering spaces. The proposed new Campus Life Center is scheduled to open in the 2018-19 academic year.

Living at Emory

Living at Emory includes Housing Operations. The staff works closely with colleagues in Residential Life to provide intentionally diverse living-learning campus environments to promote sustainable, compassionate personal growth and development through collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and the community. Housing Operations and Residential Life staff are responsible for administration of all residential facilities and provide residential environments that are clean, well-maintained, comfortable, and conducive to study.

Housing leadership believes learning outside the classroom can be as valuable as learning in an academic setting. Emory’s residence halls are staffed with talented and trained individuals who live on each floor and work diligently to build community and support students in all aspects of college life.

Campus Dining

Emory Dining provides quality food, using authentic, seasonal options prepared with balance and well-being in mind. Menus include vegetarian dishes without gluten-containing ingredients, as well as kosher and halal foods, to meet all dining needs. Menus are developed based on seasonality and availability of regional fresh products.

Emory promotes sustainability and strives to become a leader in environmental awareness. Our goal is to provide at least 50 percent local and/or sustainable food by the end of 2016, advocate for farmworker rights, and support food-system education. Emory is committed to expanding and enhancing campus dining culture, health awareness, sustainability, and a sense of community through use of chef-driven, restaurant-quality, seasonal, and nutritious food.

Office of Technology and Bookstore Relations

The Campus Life Technical Services team delivers a variety of services to Campus Life departments, including hardware and software support, database and website development, training, consulting, and procurement. The Campus Bookstore offers a range of retail options for the university community. In addition to new, used, digital, and rental books, the Bookstore offers electronics, apparel, gifts, and more.

Financial Services and Human Resources Service Centers

The Finance Service Center, with its Human Resources component, was created in 2014 to support the financial and human resources needs of all Campus Life units. Human Resources supports the entire division, assisting with hiring and processing staff, employee relations, professional development, and performance reviews.

Learning and Innovation

Learning and Innovation supports professional development opportunities for Emory Campus Life staff at all levels through a range of information, training, and awards programs. The office also offers opportunities to the nation’s higher education community through its Student Affairs Institute and initiatives like the Summit on Race.


The Ombudsperson, neutral and independent of the administration, is an individual to whom students may speak regarding problems, conflicts, or concerns. The Ombudsperson provides a private sounding board and source of assistance to help students find the right resources, navigate university systems, and figure out their next steps in addressing academic and nonacademic issues. 

Role of the AVP

The opening for Emory Campus Life’s next AVP for Finance, Administration, and Operations represents an exceptional opportunity for an experienced and highly motivated student affairs professional. The AVP must thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment and support Emory Campus Life with a range of strategic initiatives. 

Reporting to Senior Vice President and Dean for Campus Life and working closely with the university’s Vice President for Finance/Chief Finance Officer and Vice President for Finance, the AVP provides strategic direction and oversight for Dobbs University Center, Housing, Dining, Technical Services, Bookstore, Finance Service Center, Human Resources, Learning and Innovation, and Ombudsperson. The AVP will oversee a budget of nearly $75 million and a staff of more than 60, including eight direct reports.

Emory cultivates a collegial and collaborative culture in which relationships are critical to success. The next AVP must be able to share solutions and collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure buy-in. The AVP is expected to work closely with colleagues in other Chief Business Officer roles across the campus and actively engage in the Enterprise Financial Network, which serves as a community of practice for finance and operations professionals throughout the university.

Key Responsibilities

The AVP for Finance, Administration, and Operations fulfills the following responsibilities:

Qualifications and Experiences

Successful candidates will possess or exhibit many of the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

To Apply

Inquiries, nominations, and applications should be sent in strict confidence to:

Ponneh Varho or Keight Tucker Kennedy
Isaacson, Miller
1300 19th Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 

Electronic submission is strongly encouraged.

Emory University is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.