Willamette Hires New Director to Expand Career Services

Willamette University has hired Jerry Houser, an experienced career development professional with a strong record building successful college career programs, as the new Director of Career Services, effective Oct. 5.

Willamette conducted a national search for a transformational leader who will expand services and implement new programs that fully complement students' academic achievements as they seek employment. In addition to helping students plan for future careers, Houser will also provide support to those pursuing graduate school and public service opportunities, such as Teach for America.

Houser most recently worked for nine years at the California Institute of Technology, where he directed and re-engineered the Career Development Center, and previously spent 15 years directing the Career Planning and Placement Center at the University of Southern California.

"We are excited to have someone of Jerry's caliber join our campus to revamp our career services program," Willamette President M. Lee Pelton said. "Helping our students build successful careers is critical, and Jerry has an excellent track record connecting students with prospective employers using a variety of personal and high-tech methods."

Surveys of Willamette students and alumni show that they feel career services are important to their success. Plans to expand the office include creating a robust employer-relations program, both regionally and nationally, that enhances internship and job opportunities for students and alumni; developing closer relationships with alumni and parents to offer better mentoring, networking and access to career information; and implementing new online technologies to provide students and alumni with on-demand, 24-7 access to career tools and support.

At Caltech, Houser overhauled the career services program to offer workshops and conferences, outreach projects, alumni events, career counseling and on-campus student interviews with more than 200 corporations annually. Houser implemented a career services software system and developed scripts for video-based workshops with Career TV. He also launched a program for employers to donate resources and information for initiatives that connected students with job opportunities.

While at USC, Houser led a comprehensive analysis of the university's career programs to improve services, and he developed a Volunteer Center. He also has taught university courses on college counseling, career development and adult professional development, and he has held leadership positions with the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

"Willamette is a wonderful place to explore your thinking, relationships, purpose in life, and future, and I'm excited to be a part of the team," Houser said. "My own college experience was transformational as a result of close relationships with faculty and staff, participation in leadership activities, and jobs and internships. I look forward to helping Willamette students translate their rich college experience into career options and a successful future."

Houser holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Azusa Pacific University, an MBA from University of Redlands and a PhD in university administration and educational psychology from University of Southern California.