Is the role of Senior Student Affairs Officer part of your long-term career plan? What due diligence should you complete prior to participating in a search? How do you determine if you’ll be a good match for a particular institutional type and culture? How should you best negotiate salary, benefits, and other conditions of employment? What should you plan to accomplish in the first few weeks of your new position to ensure a successful transition? If your school is looking to attract the very best candidates, what role can a search firm play in that process? Learn the answers to these questions and more as we explore strategies and insights into the executive search process.

On this episode, host Tony Doody speaks with Ellen Heffernan–President of Spelman Johnson, Barbara LoMonaco–Vice President for Student Affairs at Salve Regina University, Felicia McGinty–Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Rutgers University, and J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter–Vice President of Student Affairs at Tulane University.

Please share your questions and comments with prior to the show, or tweet using the #higheredlive hashtag during the episode. We’ll do our best to incorporate questions from viewers (with attribution) into the live conversation.

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Episode Host

Tony Doody

Tony Doody

Tony Doody has over 24 years of practical experience and oversight in senior leadership positions within the Higher Education industry in the areas of Facilities Management, New Student Orientation, Parent and Family Programs, Leadership and Training, Marketing and Communications, Adult Learning, and Major Events and Programs. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Student Engagement at Rutgers University. Over the last 4 years, Tony has presented at over twenty universities and national conferences on topics of innovation, digital leadership, technology, and unconventional leadership. He is the recent Innovation chair for the ACPA 2014 conference, serves on the ACPA Credentialing team, and is co-chair of the ACPA Presidential Task Force on Technology. In addition, Tony has worked over 20 years as a consultant in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, presentation skills, risk-taking, innovation, social media, conflict resolution, and team cohesiveness. Past clients include J&J, Bristol Myers Squibb, Vistakon, Navigant, Janssen, United Way, Merrill Lynch, Tumi, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals.


Ellen Heffernan

Ellen Heffernan currently serves as the President of Spelman Johnson–a nationally recognized retained executive search firm connecting colleges and universities with exceptional talent. For 25 years, Spelman Johnson has assisted virtually every type of higher education institution identify, recruit, and hire senior leadership.

Ms. Heffernan graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in economics and government. She joined Spelman Johnson in 1996, after a ten-year career in higher education that included positions at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is also a national speaker on topics related to recruiting and professional development in higher education and serves as faculty for several national higher education association professional development programs. Ms. Heffernan also currently serves on the board of the National Association of Executive Recruiters.


Barbara LoMonaco

Barbara LoMonaco is Vice President for Student Affairs at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. She earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Southern Methodist University and has conducted research in Greece, Italy, and the U.S. Her research interests include gender, medical anthropology, migration, and applied anthropology.

LoMonaco began her career in higher education in 1996 as professor of anthropology at Transylvania University, where she created the anthropology major, received the Bingham Award for Excellence in teaching, and was nominated to be a CASE Professor of Year. In addition to her teaching, she worked as a consultant in industry to assist businesses in understanding and transforming their organizational cultures.

LoMonaco served as VPSA at Transylvania University from 2012-2015 and is beginning her first year at Salve Regina. She presented at NASPA in 2015 on a panel exploring the “rookie year” for VPSAs, and is the organizer for a NASPA 2016 conference panel on presidential transitions.


Felicia McGinty

Felicia McGinty serves as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the flagship campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Dr. McGinty joined Rutgers in 2013 and is responsible for providing leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the large and complex division of Student Affairs. Prior to joining Rutgers, Dr. McGinty served in a senior level position as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her student affairs career spans more than twenty-seven years of service at mid-size and large public institutions, including posts as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at Pennsylvania State University and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Dr. McGinty holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, a Master of Arts in Education Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Northern Arizona University.


James Porter

J. Davidson “Dusty” Porter serves as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Tulane University in New Orleans, a position he has held since July 2014. Dr. Porter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Emory University, a Master of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Vermont and a Doctorate in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park.  His doctoral dissertation on Leadership Self Efficacy and Identity Formation received a research award (1997) from the American College Personnel Association. He currently serves on the James Scott Academy Board for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Before assuming his role Tulane, Dr. Porter served for eight years as Vice President of Student Affairs at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore, Maryland.