Vanderbilt University Associate Director in Nashville, Tennessee

Associate Director (Job Number: 1801643)


About the Role

The Associate Director will participate in all aspects of the new program. Under the supervision of the Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice, the Associate Director will develop, manage, and enrich the Program’s initiatives, including program design and facilitation, conference and event planning, public relations, fundraising, and evaluation.

About the Work Unit

The Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice (WPRJ) is concerned with the relation of religion and matters of economic and ecological justice in their widest sense as fundamental building blocks for life on the planet. The Program also considers related intersectional concerns of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and interreligious justice. The mission of the Program is to investigate, educate, and organize. The Program investigates matters of economic and ecological justice and their broad implications for religious communities and the wider public as integral part of theological and religious reflection. The Program educates the academy, students, religious communities, activist communities, and the broader public on matters of religion and justice. The Program supports organizing more just relationships, drawing on and developing further long-standing commitments of religious and activist communities.

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt is a renowned private institution founded in 1873 and located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee. The university’s students, faculty, and staff frequently cite Nashville and the surrounding area as one of the many perks of being a part of the Vanderbilt community. Vanderbilt University is a place where your expertise will be valued, your knowledge expanded, and your abilities challenged. It is a place where your diversity is sought and celebrated. It is a place where employees know they are part of something bigger than themselves, take exceptional pride in their work and never settle for what was good enough yesterday. Vanderbilt was recently named the “best large employer” in Tennessee and a top employer for women by Forbes , ranked #1 in the Princeton Review among 384 top colleges and universities for having the best financial aid in the nation – as well as #3 for “happiest students,” “quality of life” and “beautiful campus,” #4 for both being in a “college city that students love” and for having “great campus/city relations.”

About Vanderbilt Benefits

In addition to offering a lively community that encourages learning and celebrates diversity, Vanderbilt University offers a competitive, flexible benefits package including health, dental, vision, life, accidental death & dismemberment, disability insurance, paid time off, and a 403(b) retirement plan with employer match. Vanderbilt offers tuition assistance to employees, spouses and dependent children. Also, after five years of service, Vanderbilt will pay up to 55% of the tuition for up to three dependent children to earn a bachelor's degree. Learn more about Vanderbilt's benefits at VU Benefits Overview at .

Key Functions and Expected Performance:

  • Participates in all aspects of the new program.

  • Develops, manages, and enriches the Program’s initiatives, including program design and facilitation, conference and event planning, public relations, fundraising, and evaluation.

  • Is actively involved in the educational mission of the Program by helping to design continuing education events such as workshops and training and giving presentations in these and other contexts.

  • Supports the Director in maintaining and expanding the Program’s connections to the various constituencies of the program, including faculty and students, religious communities and communities Maintains active working relationships with other programs and organizations at Vanderbilt.

Supervisory Relationships :

The position does not have supervisory responsibility; the position reports administratively and functionally to the Director of the Program.

Education and Certifications:

A Master’s of Divinity, a Master’s of Theological Studies or a Masters of Art in Religion from an accredited institution of higher education is necessary.

Experience and Skills :

  • At least five years of working experience in relevant areas, including labor organization, community organization, and engagement with faith communities is necessary.

  • Experience in developing and running programs and initiatives is necessary.

  • Ability to network with multiple, diverse constituencies is necessary.

  • Familiarity and support of Vanderbilt’s Divinity School’s Purpose Statement and its Statement of Commitments, its culture, faculty members, students, and history is preferred.

  • Ability to determine informational needs, to collect and analyze information, and to devise and develop statistical analyses and reports is preferred.

  • Demonstrated professional knowledge and operational expertise within designated area of program focus is preferred.

  • Program planning, development, implementation, and leadership skills is preferred.

  • Ability to develop and deliver both oral and written presentations is preferred.

  • Ability to use independent judgment and to manage and impart information to a range of clientele and/or media sources is preferred.

  • Ability to make administrative/procedural decisions and judgments is preferred.

  • Skill in examining and evaluating operations and developing and/or re-engineering operating strategies, systems, and procedures is preferred.

  • Ability to develop and implement funding strategies and programs is preferred.

General Characteristics of a Successful Vanderbilt University Staff Member

ACCOUNTABILITY : Owns decisions, outcomes, work products, etc. that are within the scope of one’s role.

§ Works through Issues – Recognizes that the work is about successful outcomes, if things aren’t going well, outcomes suffer; is willing to have crucial conversations if things aren’t going well; doesn’t just complain to management… does everything possible to remedy the situation directly first

§ Reliable – Does what they say they will do, when they say they will do it; shows up for work when expected; doesn’t push the burden of work volume or deadlines to others

§ Integrity – Holds oneself accountable; takes responsibility for failures as well as successes, recognizes that trust is required to hold a team together

§ Acceptance of Feedback – Takes constructive criticism with grace, and makes improvements without taking it personally or holding grudges; when wrong, owns it – freely admits mistakes

COLLABORATION: Works inclusively to build trust and accomplish tasks, goals, and initiatives. Understands, anticipates, and appropriately responds to internal and/or external customers’ needs.

§ Optimism – Is friendly, tirelessly cordial, polite, and genial; comes in to work with a good attitude and doesn’t bring their own personal “little black clouds” into the work environment

§ Teamwork – Genuinely values teamwork and co-workers, makes them feel valuable and important by acknowledging what they do well; doesn’t expect from others effort that one is unwilling to do themselves, finds ways to acknowledge other’s strong suits

§ Honest and Transparent – Doesn’t have hidden agendas, doesn’t play people against each other; is authentic and forthright

§ Helpful Nature – Offers to help lighten the load for others in times of need; volunteers rather than waiting to be asked; understands that almost no one works in a silo and needs the help of others to do their job well; recognizes that by helping others first, others will likely reciprocate

COMMUNICATION: Provides information clearly and accurately in various settings, ensuring understanding and participation. Understands how best to present information to different audiences and understands how information may be perceived.

§ Shares – Shares information. Communicates proactively. Transmits knowledge; recognizes that “knowledge is power” is less effective than “sharing knowledge is power.” Asks for advice, and considers it thoughtfully

§ Is Nice – Asks caring, interested questions and is a good listener -- smiles and is grateful; sends appropriate notes of thanks to others who have helped; avoids gossip or saying negative things about co-workers; patient and generous; makes suggestions rather than stating hard and fast opinions. Avoids being negative, sarcastic, and cynical

§ Praises Publicly; Criticizes Privately – When dealing with a difficult co-workers or customers, “pretend your children are watching” how the situation is handled; good manners help keep a cool head; gives credit where credit is due

§ Responds Promptly – Recognizes that when emails and phone messages aren’t returned in a timely way, it sends the message that the other party is not important; responds even if just to acknowledge receipt and provide a timeframe by which the requester can expect a full response

DRIVE & GRIT : Is focused on professional excellence and strives to facilitate and support the same for colleagues in and outside their team, effectively manages through challenges and opportunities while seeking to understand and learn from professional experiences.

§ Perspective – Maintains a sense of humor and perspective; can laugh first and foremost at oneself

§ Raises the Bar – Expects and delivers excellence; is a creative problem solver; is proactive; welcomes input on making things better -- places a high value on learning and getting better

§ Resilience – Is resilient in the face of daunting challenges and setbacks; bounces back readily.

§ Adaptability – Reads cues and adapt accordingly; adjusts style and approach to accommodate the styles and needs of others; can anticipate and effectively de-escalate potential conflicts

ENGAGED : Appreciates the values and mission of the organization, works to contribute to the university, and understands how their work affects the university and university community.

§ Eager – Enthusiastic, wanting to learn, wanting to continue one’s personal and professional development and expertise

§ Hard-Working – Is industrious as well as efficient (busy isn’t the same as productive); can juggle multiple competing priorities simultaneously without becoming overwhelmed

§ Believes – Believes in the work being done and in the importance of the organization’s mission

§ Creative Thinking – Goes beyond the boundaries of the job description, willingly takes on new challenges, and finds creative solutions rather than always awaiting direct instructions

JUDGMENT & PROFESSIONAL ACUMEN : Makes appropriate decisions and evaluates risk and uncertainty to create ideal outcomes, exhibits an eye for the macro and the micro, and works to ensure others are able to do the same.

§ Autonomous – Self-managing; self-motivated; manages time, activities and outcomes well so that progress stays on track; cleans up after themselves

§ Maturity -- Exhibits professional maturity; doesn’t pass the buck to dodge accountability; doesn’t engage in petty office politics or inappropriate social conduct

§ Detail-Oriented – Even small mistakes can create big issues; attention to detail work indicates care about the outcomes

§ Assumes the Best – Assumes that others are working as hard as you are on things that are as important as what you are working on; just because you don’t know what someone does, it doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything

Additional Characteristics of a Successful Vanderbilt University Leader :


Owns decisions, outcomes, work products, etc. that are within the scope of one’s role.

  • Holds everyone in the workgroup accountable for accomplishing the outcomes of the unit.

  • Lets the buck stop with them; owns the outcomes for the work unit and doesn’t throw subordinates under the bus if things go wrong

  • Practices what they preach; doesn’t set expectations of others that they don’t live up to themselves

  • Pitches in to help the team when it really needs help

  • Communicates early and often, even as information is evolving

  • Is willing to learn from their direct reports.

  • Welcomes inquiry and recognizes mistakes as learning opportunities

  • Thinks creatively when tackling a challenge; questions the status quo in search of better ways. Looks for insights, assesses risks


Leads by example, works to ensure that members of the team have the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge to be successful.

  • Ensures that team members have the tools and resources to do the job

  • Praises publicly; is genuinely appreciative of the accomplishments of members of the team

  • Criticizes privately; focuses more on how to do it better next time than how it went wrong this time

  • Willingly shares expertise with team members; actively coaches

  • Is clear with the deliverables and outcomes needed, but allows members of the team to tackle the problems in the way they see fit, without micromanaging every process; understands that the destination – rather than the exact route – is what’s important

  • Cares about their employees as people, not just as “resources”

  • Makes this a fun place to work; Enhances comradery, builds trust, and invites members of the work group to be their authentic selves

  • Addresses problems among the workgroup when they arise, rather than letting them fester


Takes responsibility for and make effective decisions through understanding the needs of the institution, collaborating and communicating, and identifying the strategic and operational imperatives of the university.

  • Makes decisions, even in the face of incomplete information, rather than avoiding making decisions.

  • Seeks first to understand before making decisions; doesn’t act first and ask questions later; solicits input from a diverse group of others including members of the work group, others stakeholders, and naysayers/critics, when faced with complex challenges, before making a decision. Identifies options and homes in on pros and cons of each option; Lets others know where they are in their decision-making process.

  • Shares a clear vision for the work of the unit, and is clear about what outcomes are expected.

  • Provides clear guidance and direction, doesn’t change direction with the wind; communicates in ways that are clear and succinct, rather than confusing or ambiguous

  • Communicates early and often, even as information is evolving

  • Champions the work unit’s cause, and makes compelling business cases for its needs

  • Is willing to course-correct if things aren’t going as planned, even after decisions have been made and communicated

  • Is willing to learn from their direct reports

This opportunity requires a Bachelors and give years of experience or the equivalent.

Primary Location: United States-Tennessee-Nashville

Organization: 14000 - Divinity: Office of the Dean

Job: Information Technology Professionals

Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action