Assistant Director, Business Services & Initiatives (Student Housing)

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Job Purpose:

Reporting to the Director, Student Housing & Residence Life, the Assistant Director will lead a highly autonomous multi-disciplinary team to deliver expert advisory and integrated services to support a safe, caring, and welcoming living experience that contributes to student success. The following business services support the department’s operational and strategic activities: business development and partnerships, communications and marketing, research and assessment, technology and continuous improvement, budget and finance and project management.

The incumbent will lead with an entrepreneurial mindset and provide subject matter expertise on related topics not limited to business development, integrated planning, and innovative practices to enable student success and add value so the University can prosper.

The Assistant Director directly supervises OPSEU and Exempt staff roles and indirectly supervises student employees in the unit. The incumbent will provide support and guidance to staff in the management of incidents in residence and is available by phone as part of an on-call rotation for the Peterborough and Durham campuses.

Key Activities:

Leadership & Planning

  • Responsible for leading the business services and initiatives unit, in Peterborough and Durham, including budget management, personnel, planning, project management, service delivery and assessment. This includes working collaboratively with the Colleges, Financial Services, Recruitment, Marketing & Communications, Facilities Management, Information Technology, Human Resources, and external university service providers.
  • Provide high level advice to the Director and leads the annual business and planning processes. Identify systemic issues for consideration, improvement, and opportunities for strategic change.
  • Work with students and stakeholders to identify initiatives that result in transformational change to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Develop and implement proactive, consistent performance frameworks, transparent reporting, and targeted transformation strategies. Design and implement regular performance tracking/assessment and improvement strategies and processes that empower staff to monitor, evaluate, and take action to achieve measurable change/impact.
  • Lead equitable, innovative consultations and research to ensure transformation initiatives meet the needs and aspirations of students and staff.
  • Oversee the methodology to evaluate the current student experience.
  • Forge collaborative relationships with other departments to promote integration between strategy, core organization systems, and decision-making processes.
  • Produce high quality reports, briefing materials, and presentations for internal and external stakeholder communications and engagement, conveying highly complex and sensitive information in an engaging way.
  • Work across the department, provide leadership to the development, execution and continuous improvement of integrated processes and systems. This includes providing leadership for department wide projects and events such as open house, move-in, and move-out.
  • Develop unit goals and rolling 5-year unit operating plan that aligns with institutional and department mission, strategic plans, and priorities.  Monitor activities of program personnel and students in carrying out plan initiatives. Modify plans for practice in a way that incorporates assessment findings and student feedback. Develop implications for action plans based on assessment findings.
  • Develop policies and agreements to support functional areas, and annual operations planning.
  • Create a unit budget that accurately forecasts annual expenses within established departmental guidelines to fund the operation of the unit. Develop proposals for multiple year strategic budgets for the unit to align with long-term plans.
  • Monitor budget through monthly reports and address any variances with the Financial Officer.  Adjust operating needs based on expenditure trends.  Advise Financial Officer of any needed adjustments to allocations.
  • Represent department on a variety of institutional and provincial committees and working groups.  Appoints staff to university committees that require input from the unit.

Integrated Business Services

  • Lead the Business Services team to provide expert, consultative support, and high-quality service to build capacity and support continuous improvement efforts across the department. Leveraging the team, develop a consultative framework to highly engage students in the research, development, and implementation of solutions to complex problems.

Communications & Marketing

  • In collaboration with the Communications, Marketing, and Recruitment management team, oversee the development of the departmental strategies, tactics, and assets to achieve targets.
  • In collaboration with Communications, provide strategic advice and key messages on the management of issues related to Student Housing.
  • Oversee the development of print and digital content, communications and resources for the department that accurately and professionally communicates the institution’s strategic marketing plan to build reputation and profile.

Business Development & Partnerships

  • Lead the development and implementation of new business opportunities and partnerships that add value to the student living experience and university.
  • Foster integration across the student experience, finance, marketing on messaging, pricing strategies and business models to achieve revenue goals and enhance student success outcomes.
  • Work with developers and commercial realtors to develop term sheets and negotiate financial matters to lease properties. Develop pro forma and analyze property metrics to meet student housing and space needs.
  • Collaborate with lease partners to ensure lease terms are executed. Work with legal counsel to develop/renew leases and address any landlord tenant related matters.

Budget & Finance

  • Under the general oversight of the Director, responsible for all departmental finances including the management of a 5-year $94 million strategic budget, annual operating of $18 million, and reserve account of $5-$7 million. Plan and refine budget strategies to meet the changing needs of the department. Ensure P&L performance meets or exceeds financial planning expectations by adjusting operations as required to generate revenue.
  • Facilitate the effective management of the financial planning and budget process to produce a comprehensive budget. Ensure the consultative aspects are met including presentations to stakeholders.
  • Lead the development of financial and business case analyses to inform business decisions.

Project Management

  • Oversee the management, communication and reporting of departmental operational projects and strategic initiatives that further the housing strategy.
  • Ensure alignment on project scope and success factors, ensuring a shared understanding of objectives, delivery approach, task ownership, and deliverables.
  • Maintain clear communication with cross-functional stakeholders regarding mutual expectations and monitor stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Set and manage team priorities and ensure projects are supported and executed.
  • Oversees the development and maintenance for an enterprise backlog to organize the department’s strategic initiatives.

Research & Assessment

  • Monitor trends and best practices within post-secondary student housing and interpret how forces and factors influence student housing in our campus communities.
  • Work with the Office of Institutional Planning & Analysis to align and plan research and assessment activities.
  • Oversees the development of data and tools to inform strategic and operational planning and performance measurement.

Technology & Continuous Improvement

  • Working with IT partners, providing technical leadership and plans to manage the effective delivery of technology support services and systems. Prepare and implement the department’s IT plan.
  • Oversee the housing management system and a 3-year technology investment plan. Manage the contractual relationship with vendors and work collaboratively with IT and campus partners to employ technology solutions.
  • Lead, advise and champion technology process improvement initiatives to achieve strategic business objectives.
  • Lead the systematic framework to identify and implement process improvement through a Continual Service Improvement (CSI) process plan. Implement, manage, measure, and improve processes, procedures, tools, and techniques to optimize business outcomes. 

Human Resources

  • Directly hire, train, and supervise staff under purview. Indirectly supervise student employees.
  • Create an effective team with clear roles, responsibilities, and tangible goals.
  • Oversee and manage the work of employees, providing strategic and tactical advice, guidance, and coaching.
  • Examine and implement staffing, job descriptions, and pay structures for student employment within the department.  Ensure student employment recruitment, training, compensation, and supervision practices adhere to institutional guidelines and laws, and align with departmental goals.
  • Ensure procedures pertaining to the hiring, training, and supervision of student employees. Ensure supervisory practices are consistent with institutional practices and legal requirements.
  • As a member of the housing leadership team, work collectively to establish and communicate expectations, create norms to support the organizational philosophy and culture by implementing and modelling the values, aspirations, and goals to develop a highly engaged staff.
  • Create and promote a safe working environment committed to employment equity and continuous learning.
  • Address and resolve matters to support a high-performing staff team. Maintain knowledge of, and respect for, the University Collective Agreements.
  • As needed, act as Director, Student Housing & Residence Life in their absence. 


  • Serve as a contributing member on collaborative inter-departmental efforts and external relations. 
  • Is available and provides support and guidance to staff in the management of incidents and is available by phone as part of an on-call rotation for the Peterborough and Durham campuses.  Provides support and instruction to the Durham campus related to residence emergencies. During on call rotations must be able to coordinate services to support campus responses if they cannot immediately attend.  Responds to emergencies such as suicide, students emotional or physical crisis, safety threats to persons or buildings, and facilities emergencies, etc.
  • Some evening and weekend work required.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Education Required:

  • Graduate Degree in a related field (M.Ed, MBA).
  • Certification in Accounting (CMA, CPA) from an accredited body preferred.
  • Certification in Project Management, Change Management, Design Thinking, or Systems Thinking is considered an asset.

Experience/Qualifications Required:

  • More than five (5) years full-time professional experience in student housing, business, ancillary services management experience in a post-secondary environment is required. 
  • A deep understanding of student housing (residence life, operations, off-campus housing, administration) and the delivery of broader ancillary services in a post-secondary environment.
  • Demonstrated success in leadership and management.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and written/spoken communication skills, tact, and patience. Superior conflict management, mediation and negotiation skills, and political acumen.
  • Demonstrated ability to exercise good judgement, creativity, initiative, and sound decision-making in managing business services.
  • Tact, diplomacy, and empathy for multiple viewpoints are required. Strong conflict resolution skills are required.
  • Demonstrated commitment to and understanding of diversity, equity, and accessibility issues with respect to post-secondary students.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead business development activities and negotiate partnership agreements with internal and external parties.
  • Experience developing and managing complex budgets.
  • Demonstrated understanding of strategic planning and an ability to lead project teams in a complex environment that involves multiple stakeholders.
  • Ability to consult extensively, solve complex problems and work with other units in the university to resolve difficult issues.
  • Demonstrated ability to act as a change agent and experience with continuous improvement of business processes.
  • Experience with supervision in a unionized environment is required.
  • A demonstrated understanding of relevant legislation, including (but not limited to) the following: the Residential Tenancies Act, Ontario Human Rights Code, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Occupation Health and Safety Act, Ontario Employment Standards Act, Occupiers Liability Act, etc.  In addition, is knowledgeable about strategic priorities of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
  • Ontario drivers G class driver’s license with access to a vehicle to be able to attend events, meetings, and respond to incidents in Peterborough and Oshawa.