Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Golden Gate University

Position Profile

Located in the heart of San Francisco, Golden Gate University seeks a dynamic and entrepreneurial leader to serve as its Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (Provost/VPAA). This is a unique opportunity for a transformational leader to effect change at both the school and university levels by bringing innovative ideas for structure and growth to a long-standing institution with a commitment to quality and serving a diverse student body, including a substantial number of working learners.

For 120 years, this accredited, non-profit university has been helping students achieve their personal and career goals by providing undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in business, law, public service and related areas. Lauded by the New York Times as "a model for how other institutions can adapt to the newer, older face of American college students," GGU provides students with knowledge and skills that are immediately applicable in rapidly evolving professions.

I. Golden Gate University History and Context

Golden Gate University (GGU) is a private, nonprofit university that traces its roots back to the founding of the San Francisco YMCA in 1881, which included a "YMCA night school." Beginning in 1901, the school offered the first evening law school program in California, and in 1908 began the first four-year accounting program on the west coast. GGU moved to the YMCA Golden Gate Avenue location in 1910 and became the "YMCA Law School." It was incorporated in 1923 as Golden Gate College. In 1959, Golden Gate University received its initial Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation as a specialized institution in the fields of business administration, law, and related curricula.

At its inception, and for decades afterward, GGU's educational model was exclusively focused on providing working adults access to transformative education. In the 1960s, it added a full-time Law program to what had been a part-time evening JD program. Golden Gate University's mission has remained consistent and focused while periodically refreshed to reflect current times: "to prepare individuals to lead and serve by providing high-quality, practice-based educational programs in law, taxation, business, and related professions as a nonprofit institution in an innovative and challenging learning environment that embraces professional ethics and diversity." Golden Gate University leverages the innovation and dynamism of the San Francisco Bay Area and the region's embrace of social and cultural progress to be a model for all higher education institutions seeking to promote social mobility and career advancement.

GGU is governed by an engaged, 18-member board of trustees which meets four times a year and maintains an active committee schedule. The Provost/VPAA will serve on the president's cabinet along with the Chief Financial Officer and the Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Direct reports will include the Dean of the School of Law, the Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, the Dean of the Schools of Graduate Business (Braden School of Tax, School of Accounting, and Ageno School of Business) along with additional administrative leaders responsible for academic support, enrollment, and student services.

GGU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and currently offers degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. GGU's Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association. The School of Undergraduate Studies offers:  one AA, six bachelor's degree programs, and twenty undergraduate certificate programs. Graduate programs in Business, Tax and Accounting include: one Doctorate of Business Administration (currently not accepting new students), 16 master's degrees, three Estate Planning and Taxation degrees, one dual degree in Estate Planning/Tax and 24 graduate certificates. Degrees in the School of Law include the JD (full time and part-time modalities; same degree), seven LLMs and one SJD.

As of this writing, undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in business, psychology, and public administration are taught by 29 full-time and 337 adjunct faculty.  Law courses are taught by 31 full-time and 65 adjunct faculty.

In the Undergraduate and Graduate Business areas, as well as with its evening JD program and new JD Flex program, GGU prides itself in creating educational offerings for students who need to work and/or care-take full-time or part-time while completing their degrees or professional certificates. Courses are offered to students year-round both on-site, hybrid and online (asynchronous and synchronous).

Golden Gate University currently enrolls approximately 3,430 students, 964 undergraduate students, 1,893 graduate business students and 573 law students. Of the total number of undergraduate and graduate business students, 43% are full-time and 57% are part-time (Fall 2020); 42% are women and 58% male; 52% are students of color. The Law School student body is currently 76% full-time and is one of the most diverse in the country: overall, 57% of the law school are students of color, and the Fall 2020 incoming class was represented by 53% first-generation college students; 86% first-generation law students; and 20% identifying as LGBTQ+.

II. Primary Responsibilities of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

The newly created position of Provost/VPAA will play a vitally important leadership role in shaping the future of Golden Gate University. This officer will oversee approximately 160 employees and manage an operating budget of $32M. 

Ensure Academic Quality

The Provost/VPAA will-first and foremost-assure the quality and integrity of GGU's academic programs. This includes the alignment of academic curricula and co-curricular support services with faculty-defined student learning outcomes, as well as career-advancement goals, at the program and university-wide level. Working with faculty, program administrators, academic and student deans, as well as administrative leaders, this position will strengthen the university's capacity for evaluating the quality of academic programs against shared standards of academic excellence, and will advocate for essential resources and support where needed. The position also entails improving the quality of the student experience overall and ensuring that GGU retains students until they earn their desired degree or credential.

Strategic Vision, Program Portfolio and Enrollment Management

In addition, the Provost/VPAA will lead the collaborative development of a compelling strategic vision for GGU's academic enterprise and design and deliver an implementation plan to make this vision a reality. To ensure the long-term vitality and sustainability of the academic enterprise, it is expected that this strategic vision must include significant growth in enrollment and resources. The Provost/VPAA will collaborate with faculty, deans and senior leaders to establish a process to strategically manage program portfolios (assessing the financial impact of current and new programs to determine how best to allocate investments) and integrate this process with an enrollment management plan that will fulfill GGU's mission and promote the university's long-term fiscal sustainability.

Promote Culture of Innovation and Adaptability

In today's highly competitive higher education environment-characterized by dynamic and rapid changes in employer expectations and continual advances in educational technology-the Provost/VPAA will foster a culture of innovation and adaptability among faculty and academic leaders. The Provost/VPAA will achieve this objective by strengthening existing relationships, and creating new ones, with employers in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley communities, as well third-party providers of educational content. Establishing and nurturing these relationships  will assist with both recruiting students and recruiting and developing adjunct faculty, and it will be instrumental in keeping curricular, pedagogical, and programmatic aspects of the university's offerings current.

Organizing Academic and Student Affairs

A primary, early objective of the new Provost/VPAA will be to transition the academic division to a new organizational structure. Currently, a Chief Operating Officer oversees the Registrar; Financial Aid; Enrollment Services (Business and Undergraduate); eLearning/Instructional Design; Library Services (Business and Undergraduate); and Student Affairs, including Career Services, Academic Advising, Disability Support Services, and Mental Health Services. In the new structure, responsibility for many of these functions will transfer to the new Provost/VPAA. In consultation and collaboration with the academic deans and other key administrative leaders, the Provost/VPAA will determine which departmental functions will be directly managed at the school level and which the Provost/VPAA will oversee in service to all schools. Effectiveness, efficiency, scalability and autonomy (for example, where the Law School's ABA requirements pertain) will be the key principles undergirding this determination.

While undertaking these primary responsibilities-ensuring the quality and integrity of GGU's educational offerings; strategically driving comprehensive academic program portfolio and enrollment management plans; promoting a culture of innovation and adaptability; and organizing the academic and student affairs division of the university-the Provost/VPAA will:

  • Work to strengthen the system of shared governance and improve internal communications, so that all stakeholders feel enfranchised and are kept apprised of strategic, programmatic and policy changes in a timely and transparent manner; and,
  • Promote an organizational culture that values diversity, equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging among GGU's students, faculty and staff.

Essential Functions:

  • Promote initiatives to senior leadership and the board of trustees that enhance the quality and integrity of GGU's educational offerings.
  • Generate or identify real or potential financial resources, and deploy them to enhance teaching, learning, and scholarship and advance GGU's educational mission.
  • Identify intellectual and technological resources, such as faculty and administrative talent , to enhance teaching, learning and scholarship and advance GGU's educational mission.
  • Work to strengthen the system of shared governance and improve internal communications and collaboration, so that all parties-trustees, faculty, senior administrators, and staff-are clear about their respective roles and responsibilities, feel enfranchised, and are kept apprised of changes and decisions in a timely and transparent manner.
  • Advocate on behalf of faculty in the senior administration and with the board of trustees as part of GGU's commitment to shared governance.
  • Ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the University's academic policies and processes pertaining to faculty recruitment, review, promotion, and tenure.
  • Promote the professional development of all faculty: tenured, non-tenured, and adjunct scholar-practitioner faculty.
  • Advocate for the quality of the student experience
  • Demonstrate a commitment to and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a critical component of academic excellence and student success.
  • Position the university for long-term growth, academic success in a dynamic, highly competitive, innovative, and globally interconnected environment.
  • Prioritize and sequence school-specific enrollment growth initiatives in collaboration with academic deans, incorporating input from faculty and other university stakeholders.
  • Lead the development of a strategic approach to reinvigorate and grow international student programs and activities to be commensurate with the appeal of GGU's geographic location and brand.
  • Develop and implement a plan to create, nurture, and sustain university partnerships with other educational content providers, employers, professional associations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations-both domestic and foreign-to support program expansion within the local, regional, national, and international arena.
  • Facilitate, where appropriate, new interdisciplinary programs while ensuring distinct schools have autonomy over their respective curricula.
  • Demonstrate an ability to make strategic decisions in the face of competing priorities and resource constraints
  • Oversee GGU's comprehensive strategic enrollment management, focusing on delivering an excellent student experience with seamless and responsive service from the time a student is a prospective applicant through the completion of their educational program.
  • Collaborate with the faculty and administrative leaders to integrate effective, efficient and scalable curricular and co-curricular student experiences suited to GGU's distinct schools and student populations.
  • Ensure enrollment objectives are achieved by, among other things, supporting academic program growth initiatives with market research, target-audience definition and strategic student recruitment and retention activity.
  • Analyze and effectively communicate to a broad array of constituencies trends in enrollment, enrollment projections (both new and continuing students), conversion/yield rates for new students, retention and completion rates, tuition discount rates, as well as average class and section sizes.
  • Support the design and implementation of data-driven and student-focused assessment protocols to measure the success of curricular and co-curricular programs and initiatives as well as to increase administrative efficiencies.
  • Collaborate with academic deans, dean of students, and administrative directors to ensure academic support services, student experience and enrollment related activities are well integrated to achieve desired learning outcomes.
  • Demonstrate astute judgment and skill in hiring and managing staff, as well as excellent operational, listening, and leadership skills with staff at all levels of a university.
  • Ensure that University policies and procedures for recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and development of faculty and staff are established, modified as appropriate, and consistently followed.
  • Abide by all regulatory obligations, including regional accreditation and state authorization rules governing distance education, and all accreditation reporting requirements.

III. Professional Qualifications and Personal Attributes

The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 5 years of high-level academic administrative experience and demonstrated success with:

  • Ensuring academic quality and integrity, including the possession of a personal record of academic scholarship and teaching, and other professional accomplishments, capable of earning the respect of the academic community and instilling confidence in one's capacity to enhance excellence in teaching and scholarship.
  • Integrating the development and delivery of high-quality academic programs with the operational components of strategic enrollment management.
  • Managing complex academic organizations, including oversight of budgets and the allocation of financial resources, partnering closely with the Vice President of Finance and CFO, and demonstrating an ability to work effectively with the President and the Board of Trustees.
  • Understanding the varying needs and concerns of students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and ensuring that all academic degrees adhere to their particular and unique regulatory and accreditation requirements. (At GGU, the Juris Doctor program possesses the most particular and complex accreditation requirements of any individual degree and, hence, familiarity with regulatory requirements of an ABA-accredited Law School is a plus.)
  • Advancing diversity and equity in faculty and student recruitment and retention, curricular development, and the success of women faculty and faculty of color. (Given GGU's diverse student population, a candidate's thought leadership regarding diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the context of racial justice, inclusion of LGBTQ groups and individuals, and overcoming challenges pertaining to the educational and career-advancement of veterans and active-duty military students, are all considered a plus.)
  • Promoting collegiality across all sectors of the institution and communicating in ways that engage those within the university community as well as external audiences of alumni, donors, community members, university partners, and other friends of the university.
  • Incorporating into campus discussions and decision-making an awareness of the major issues in higher education, including the impact of trends in student demographics, economic and competitive pressures on enhancing affordability, rapid technological changes, and student as well as employer demands for ensuring that academic programs are current/relevant in relation to global, environmental, social equity, and job-readiness issues.

In addition to these professional qualifications, Golden Gate University's ideal Provost/VPAA will possess the following personal attributes: honesty, transparency, humility, empathy, a high degree of cultural competency and emotional intelligence; open and authentic communication skills; capacity to inspire and empower others, inquisitiveness, adaptability, and capacity for thoughtful risk-taking and entrepreneurial initiative.

IV. Application Procedure

To ensure full consideration, application materials should be received by July 26th. Candidates should provide a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest that addresses the responsibilities and duties described above. Applications will continue to be received until a list of candidates is put forward to the President for final consideration.

Applications and related materials must be submitted on the GGU job board Questions can be directed to the search chair, Professor William Gallagher at  


To apply: Please go to and submit an application, letter of interest, and a resume.

In applying for a position, candidates sign a consent authorizing a broader inquiry which may include reference checks, a motor vehicle check, and a third party background check.

Golden Gate University is an equal employment opportunity employer. We support inclusive excellence and are committed to creating a safe and welcoming community for all.

University policy prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, physical or mental disability, gender stereotyping, and gender identity, taking a protected leave (e.g. family medical or pregnancy leave), or on any other basis protected by applicable laws.

The University has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity and inclusion, and to maintaining working and learning environments that reinforces these practices.  The University welcomes and encourages applications from all especially women, minorities, people of color, veterans, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQI community.

Golden Gate University annually collects information about campus crimes and other reportable incidents in accordance with the Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. To view the Golden Gate University Report, please go to