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LEAP Director Search

LEAP (Learning, Engagement, Achievement, Progress) is a set of two courses taken sequentially over two semesters. These courses meet general education and graduation requirements while also enabling new students to transition more confidently to college. Students work with outstanding faculty in small classes and participate in social and service activities with other students and with Peer Advisors. LEAP offers students the opportunity to explore a major and develop connections across the campus.

Job Summary

A key objective of the University of Utah is to expand existing and create new learning communities (LC) to increase retention and completion.  The Office of Undergraduate Studies (UGS) is responsible for activating this and other objectives related to student success. The primary role the Director of the LEAP Program plays is leadership of the LEAP faculty and peer mentors who support 700-750 students annually.  The Director keeps vital the vision and mission for LEAP and learning communities as a core element in the Utah Pledge, and the University of Utah’s guarantee that every first year student can choose a LC that matches their interests and goals.  As a member of the core UGS leadership team, the Director is part of new initiatives supporting student success and establishes and helps grow partnerships across campus.

The LEAP Learning Community is a year-long learning community that enables new students to transition more confidently to college and to play an active role in their own education. Students stay with the same classmates and faculty member, while taking courses that satisfy general education and graduation requirements, in small classes throughout the year. LEAP students participate in social and service activities with other students and with Peer Advisors. The formation and study of community is at the heart of all LEAP versions, and our own research, published in 2012 in The Journal of General Education, has corroborated the positive student outcomes found in other learning community settings. The significant findings of that study included the following: LEAP students got better grades in their first year, attempted and completed more credit hours, were more likely than the non-LEAP students to return for their second year, and graduated at higher rates at both the four- and six-year marks (Bliss et. al., 2012).  The LEAP advantage in graduation rates normally runs between 6% and 8%.

One of the central features of the LEAP model is the use of peer mentors (called “Peer Advisors”) that cement community in the classroom, while approaching the university experience from a student point of view and guiding the new students toward involvement and commitment. Peer Advisors facilitate the formation of important contacts by connecting students to classmates beyond their immediate friendship circles.

Responsibilities of LEAP Program Director:

  • Provide vision and leadership for the LEAP Program.
  • Oversee a set of first-year learning communities enrolling 700-750 students/year.
  • Supervise a faculty of twelve to thirteen.
  • Supervise an Administrative Assistant.
  • Supervise a LEAP Associate Director and two Assistant Directors.
  • Pursue ongoing assessment of program learning outcomes in all versions of LEAP, especially Health Sciences LEAP and Engineering LEAP.
  • Cooperate with a number of related Undergraduate Studies projects and programs, including New U Scholars, BlockU, MUSE, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.
  • Work with various University entities, most notably Marriott Library.
  • Serve on various University and Undergraduate Studies committees and task forces as needed.
  • Present LEAP in various local, state, and national venues, including University of Utah summer Orientations.
  • Pursue opportunities for the expansion of LEAP.
  • Pursue opportunities to expand UGS, University, community, state, and national awareness of LEAP, its accomplishments and what it offers students.
  • Manage key pathway programs such as AMES and Step to the U (early college high school programs)

Teach at least one course a year.


Required qualifications include a Ph.D. and an outstanding record in teaching at the college and university level.  Position is open to tenure/tenure track and career line faculty. Administrative and assessment experience preferred.

How to Apply

Please visit this link to apply. The search committee will begin reviewing files February 27, 2017. Please send questions about the position to Ann Darling (, chair of the search committee.

Last Updated: 5/28/21