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Director of Student Support Services


Grand Rapids, MI
ID: 617-085

Director of Student Support Services

Van Andel Institute (VAI) is a nonprofit biomedical research and science education institute located in the heart of Grand Rapids, MI’s vibrant Medical Mile.  VAI Graduate School is currently hiring for a Director of Student Support Services.  VAI Graduate School (VAIGS) develops future leaders in biomedical research through an intense, problem-focused Ph.D. degree in molecular and cell biology. By combining rigorous, inquiry-based coursework with extensive experience in laboratories led by the Institute’s expert faculty, VAIGS prepares students for productive careers in biomedical research and beyond. VAIGS thrives within the state-of-the-art facilities of VAI with access to extensive core technology support and the resources of collaborators in Grand Rapids, Michigan and around the country.

Position Summary:

The Director, reporting to the Dean of VAIGS, will be responsible for leadership and oversight of non-academic programming to support students and enhance their educational experience. The Director will develop and implement a pro-active, action-oriented, inclusive and culturally appropriate advising model that stresses long-term co-curricular planning to enable academic success and prepare students for diverse career opportunities. The Director supports students in developing meaningful post-graduation career plans and long-term relationships with the school. While supporting the well-being of students in academic and non-academic contexts, the Director fosters students’ physical, social, mental, and emotional well-being. This position is a blend of administrative, program development, and co-curricular planning and advising responsibilities.


  • Plan, coordinate, execute, and evaluate orientation and onboarding for new students including relocation, housing, transportation, and related needs.
  • Foster a safe, healthy, and supportive learning environment for students including initiatives in diversity and equity, cross-cultural competencies, and accommodation needs consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Create, coordinate, and enforce student-related policies and procedures; coordinate and support training related to harassment and sexual misconduct.
  • Advise, counsel and assist students in addressing non-academic issues; refer students to appropriate resources for medical problems, emotional stress, housing problems, and/or other non-academic matters.
  • Foster effective and professional mentoring relationships between students and faculty.
  • Direct and collaborate on personal strengths assessments and career planning and preparation programs; serve as liaison to alumni.


  • Master’s degree required (terminal degree preferred) in Education Administration, Higher Education, Social Work, Counseling or a similar field.
  • Five or more years of experience in a leadership role in student affairs at a college or university.
  • Experience creating and managing projects and programs in support of a robust student experience.
  • Excellent listening, writing, and presentation skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment and ability to work well with students, faculty, and staff in a team setting.
  • Self-motivated with the ability to work independently.
  • Experience in natural sciences or a research-intensive environment will be an advantage.

How to apply:

Apply here today:

In your application, provide the following:

  • cover letter highlighting key qualifications and interest in the position,
  • current curriculum vitae with complete bibliography if applicable,
  • names and contact information of 3 references

Interviews will take place in late November and early December with an expected decision by December 15.  If you have any difficulty uploading your application or any questions, please email Megan Doerr at


VAI is actively striving to diversify its workforce and strongly encourages qualified individuals from underrepresented groups to apply. Van Andel Institute is an EEO and Affirmative Action Employer.


Van Andel Institute is located in downtown Grand Rapids, MI which is the second largest city in Michigan and the largest city in West Michigan. Grand Rapids offers a remarkable combination of cosmopolitan atmosphere and small-town warmth, known for its philanthropic and sustainability-driven community, and is ranked one of "America's Top 100 Places to Live."


Located on the banks of the Grand River, Grand Rapids offers all the big-city excitement you'd expect from a million-resident metropolis, featuring hundreds of restaurants and nightspots, theatres, museums, sports and concerts. The safe and clean downtown is surrounded by an eclectic mix of walk-able neighborhoods. 


This position is located in Grand Rapids, MI. View the Google Map in full screen.