Montana University System


Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research & Student Affairs
Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education

The Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education (OCHE), the administrative head of the 16 public campuses of the Montana University System (MUS), invites nominations and applications for the position of Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research & Student Affairs. OCHE seeks a creative, collaborative, and visionary leader to increase resident student access; strengthen student success; support campus academic and research programs; and drive workforce and economic development through higher education. 

This position serves as the Chief Academic, Research, and Student Affairs Officer for the MUS and reports directly to the Commissioner of Higher Education. The MUS is governed by the constitutionally empowered Montana Board of Regents (BOR), which consists of seven citizens appointed by the Governor. The MUS delivers an array of teaching, learning, research, and support services to more than 40,000 enrolled college and university students across 16 campuses in Montana. The MUS includes two preeminent Research 1 universities (Montana State University and the University of Montana), four regional comprehensive universities, a number of two-year institutions, and three community colleges.

OCHE works with the campuses to guide and improve student success, academic progress and college attainment, technological and scientific discovery, economic development, and workforce readiness. OCHE also provides academic, administrative, fiscal, legal and policy leadership to the MUS. Under the direction of the Board of Regents and Commissioner of Higher Education, OCHE leaders frequently interact and collaborate with campus leaders, students, policy makers, business and industry leaders, and education advocates at all levels. OCHE is committed to providing Montana taxpayers and students with a single efficient, effective system of higher education. 

The MUS Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is in Helena, Montana, the state’s capital city. Helena is located along the Continental Divide near the scenic Missouri River, halfway between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.  

Position Detail

The Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research & Student Affairs (ARSA) is responsible for driving positive change in the areas of resident student access; student success and research; and workforce and economic development. Each of these areas connects directly to the three pillars of the MUS Strategic Plan. Major MUS initiatives in the ARSA Deputy’s portfolio include, but are not limited to the Montana 10 Student Success Program, Apply Montana Central Application, MUS Career & College Readiness Portal, Seamless System Course/Program Sharing Initiative, Montana Innovation Alliance, MUS Sprint Degree Program, MUS Transfer & Common Course Numbering Project, Montana’s Grow Your Own Education Program, Montana’s Future At Work Program, Complete College Montana, Montana Second Chance Pell Initiative, and Montana’s 1-2-Free Dual Enrollment Initiative. Broadly, the ARSA Deputy Commissioner is responsible for compliance with Board of Regents policies and procedures.


  • Serves as key staff for the Board of Regents on all matters related to academic, research, and student affairs including resident student access, retention, persistence, completion, system-level research initiatives, workforce and economic development, academic policies, and narrowing equity gaps.
  • Provides oversight and coordination of senior-level leadership across the MUS.
    • Indirect oversight of MUS Chief Academic, Student Affairs, and Research Officers on MUS campuses.
    • Coordination and indirect oversight of two-year and community college CEOs, deans, and executive leadership.
    • Service as an executive liaison with Tribal College leaders.
    • At OCHE, direct reporting oversight of Director of Academic Policy and Research, Director of Student Affairs and Student Engagement, Director of Dual Enrollment and Career & Technical Education, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Strategy, Director of American Indian & Minority Achievement and K-12 Partnerships, and OCHE Operations and Special Programs Coordinator.
  • Provides OCHE leadership as staff for the Board of Regents’ Academic, Research, and Student Affairs Committee and the Two-Year and Community College Committee. These staffing responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
    • Oversight of MUS academic policy development, implementation, and enforcement
    • Oversight of the MUS (academic and research) program planning, approval, and review process to align with the goal to increase communication, awareness, and collaboration opportunities.
    • Oversight of MUS campus Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) regional accreditation process and reviews.
    • Coordination, in collaboration with Director of Academic Policy and Research, of online (“e-Learning”) education and the Montana Science & Technology Plan.
    • Coordination, in collaboration with Director of Dual Enrollment and Career & Technical Education, of MUS Prior Learning Assessment strategy and reporting.
    • Coordination, in collaboration with Director of Admissions and Enrollment Strategy, of MUS Veteran’s Support Services.
    • Coordination, in collaboration with Director of American Indian & Minority Achievement and K-12 Partnerships, of MUS American Indian Minority Achievement Advisory Council and Initiatives.
    • Coordination, in collaboration with Director of Student Affairs and Student Engagement, of MUS Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Task Force and MUS Alcohol Awareness and Sexual Assault Training Modules.
  • Serves as a liaison between the MUS and national and regional higher education organizations and affiliations such as National Association of System Heads, State Higher Education Executive Officers, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Complete College America, Western Alliance of Community College Leaders, and National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges. Additional, specific roles include:
    • Service on Executive Committee for WICHE Alliance (Community College Leaders) and WICHE Forum (Chief Academic Officers)
    • Service on NASH Senior Academic Officer and Equity Action Collaborative Committees
    • Service on NASH “Power of Systems” Working Group
    • Service as State Policy Lead for Complete College America
  • Supports the Commissioner of Higher Education through Board service or service as a liaison to key agencies, legislators, and entities throughout Montana.
    • Commissioner’s designee on State Workforce Innovation Board (SWIB)
    • Commissioner’s designee on Montana Digital Academy Board
    • Primary contact for Governor’s Education and Workforce Advisor
    • Support OCHE as liaison to Montana Legislature and relevant committees
    • Liaison to the Office of Public Instruction and Board of Public Education (BPE)
    • Liaison to Department of Labor & Industry and Department of Commerce
    • Montana’s designated Community College Director
  • Oversees Federal Grant Programs to the ARSA Mission.
    • Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Grant
    • Montana Educational Talent Search (METS)
    • Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)
    • Montana Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC)
  • Be available to Commissioner for Special Projects and Assignments. Recent assignments include, but are not limited to:
    • Chair, Healthy MUS Task Force
    • Chair, Montana Healthcare Workforce Education Group
    • Chair, MSU Billings Chancellor Search Committee
    • Chair, Montana Tech Chancellor Search Committee
    • Chair, Great Falls College Dean/CEO Search Committee
    • Chair, Helena College Dean/CEO Search Committee
    • Complete College America State Lead (current)

Required Qualifications 

  • An earned doctorate from an accredited university and administrative management experience at a university system office or on a college campus at a minimum of a dean level or equivalent;
  • A breadth of successful leadership and management experience across academic, research and student affairs programs.

Desired Qualities, Experience, and Skills 

  • A person with an impeccable record of academic achievement in teaching, research, policy, graduate education, and program development, accompanied by strong academic credentials;
  • Knowledgeable and supportive of four-year and graduate education, including research institutions;
  • Understanding of the mission and issues facing comprehensive two-year and community colleges;
  • Team-oriented, and able to function effectively as a member of the Commissioner’s cabinet;
  • A strategic planner and manager, with proven abilities to conceptualize and implement policies and programs within complex political and academic environments;
  • Strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels;
  • An analytical thinker who will apply his or her skills to enhance the core values of the System;
  • A skilled communicator with refined writing and speaking abilities that easily engage others;
  • A competent supervisor who is able to lead, inspire, and manage the staff of the ARSA division;
  • Engaged in national public policy issues and trends, and able to transform academic processes to meet the need for change;
  • Accomplished in leading change, being innovative and open to nontraditional ideas;
  • Skilled in collaborative decision-making and facilitative processes, ensuring that all interests are heard;
  • Preferably, a professional who is experienced with collective bargaining environments.


The position is open until filled, with priority consideration given to applications received by Friday, November 18, 2022. 

Applications should consist of a letter of interest, current curriculum vitae, and contact information for five professional references. Candidates will be notified before references are contacted. 

Applications may be submitted by mail or email to: 

OCHE (Attention: Jackie Salveson), 560 North Park Avenue, P.O. Box 203201, Helena, MT 59620-3201, or emailed to

This position is eligible for veterans’ preference in accordance with state law.

Reasonable Accommodations:  Under state and federal law qualified applicants with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Modifications or adjustments may be provided to assist applicants to compete in the recruitment and selection process.  An applicant must request an accommodation when needed. If you need any such accommodation, contact the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education at 406-449-9155. TDD users may use the relay service by dialing 711.

The Montana University System is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer committed to recruiting, supporting, and fostering a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students.