Brandeis searches for Athletics Director, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

May 3, 2019

Brandeis has begun its search for a new athletics director and the vice provost for student affairs (VPSA), Provost Lisa Lynch announced to the Brandeis community on April 26. Brandeis hopes to have final candidates interviewing on campus over the summer, according to the email announcement.

The vice provost of student affairs position was created after the resignation of the vice president of student affairs, who left Brandeis after an independent investigation into the Brandeis athletics department uncovered racist and discriminatory conduct by the men’s basketball coach. The position of athletics director was filled by Jeffrey Ward after September of last year, when the previous director was demoted to associate director of athletics following the investigation.

The search for both the vice provost for student affairs and athletics director will be facilitated by two national search firms: Isaacson, Miller and Odgers Berndtson, respectively. Students, staff, faculty and Brandeis Trustees are on the search committees for both positions.

The search committee for the athletics director includes Chief Diversity Officer Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Director of Student Activities Dennis Hicks and Dean of Admissions Jennifer Walker. Three students involved in Brandeis athletics are also on the search team, along with three faculty members and Brandeis Trustee Josh Kraft.

The athletics director is expected to mentor coaches and athletics staff and represent the department on campus. The director will “listen closely to the perspectives of others in identifying opportunities to expand the impact of Brandeis University athletics across the campus and maintain an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Lynch’s email.

A student athlete on the committee, Diana Dehterevich ’20, was asked to join the committee by the senior executive assistant to the provost. Dehterevich, a transfer to Brandeis, wasn’t completely familiar with the circumstances surrounding the investigation into the athletics department, and she was surprised that there were only three student athletes on the search committee, she told The Brandeis Hoot in an interview.

Dehterevich hopes to find a candidate that can get more students involved with Brandeis athletics, takes student complaints seriously and someone who “wants to make sure that our campus has a really healthy environment and everybody trusts each other” she said in an interview with The Hoot.

The search committee has met once and has received a draft job posting that is undergoing edits by the committee, according to Brimhall-Vargas. Brimhall-Vargas spoke about the search, saying he wanted to make sure the pool of applicants “is wide and deep and that the process is equitable and fair.”

A candidate for the athletics director position should also have a “demonstrated capacity on cultural competence and engaging with a diverse student body,” Brimhall-Vargas said and emphasized that he was not the only member of the committee considering this factor.

Brimhall-Vargas also said that candidates with experience in leading and managing a department effectively understand that, for management to be effective, personal relationships need to be set aside if an administrator has a supervisory role. After the independent investigation, investigators reported that holes in the “administrative safety net” including the close relationship between coach Brian Meehan, his direct superior, then Athletic Director Lynne Dempsey and the then Vice President for Student Affairs Sheryl Sousa contributed to departmental problems, according to the report.

Dempsey remains at Brandeis as the Associate Director of Athletics, having been named associate director two months into her six-month probation, a period of closely supervised work, according to Director of Media Relations Julie Jette. Dempsey works with students when they come across scheduling conflicts with athletic events, coordinates with faculty and other colleges and universities and is working to build connections with alumni for development and career mentoring, according to Interim Athletics Director Ward. Dempsey declined to comment to The Brandeis Hoot about the search for the new athletics director.

Vice President of the Rabb School of Continuing Studies Karen Muncaster has served as interim vice president for student affairs since September of 2018 after Sousa’s resignation.

Muncaster is leaving Brandeis to become the dean of the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College. She will continue in both roles until June 30. Lynch announced a search for a new permanent vice president of the Rabb School of Continuing Studies and is searching for an interim vice president over the coming weeks, according to another email to the Brandeis community.

Lynch described Muncaster as a “dynamic and superbly effective leader whose entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take on any new responsibility will be greatly missed” and credited her for growing Brandeis’ online Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) program, precollege programs and non-degree continuing studies programs.

Eight staff members are on the search committee for this position, including Dean of Students Jamele Adams and Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Sam Solomon, as well as two Student Union representatives, Vice President Aaron Finkel ’19 and Junior Representative to the Board of Trustees Zosia Busé ’20. Three faculty members and trustee Ellen Lasher Kaplan are the final members of the search team.

The vice provost for student affairs will be an advocate for all students and will have experience in “community building; developing a sense of belonging, inclusion and connection amongst different constituencies of students; experience with the implementation, assessment and oversight of student services; budget management; and crisis management,” according to Lynch’s email.

The position’s division will include several offices, including the Dean of Students Office, the Hiatt Career Center, Undergraduate Housing and Orientation, Spiritual and Religious Life, Hillel, Family Engagement and Communication and Student Health and Wellness, according to Lynch’s email.

Menu Title