Division of Student Affairs announces realignment and restructuring
Division of Student Affairs announces realignment and restructuringAugust 29, 2008Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
The Division of Student Affairs at Syracuse University has completed a realignment this summer. The division, which is responsible for students’ co-curricular experience at SU, moves into the 2008-09 academic year with a newly sharpened focus on cutting-edge student affairs practices and enhanced support for student learning.
The realignment, which becomes effective Sept. 2, results from an accelerated but intensive period of self-study that began this spring along with collaborative conversations across the division and the University. The process was led by Interim Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Thomas V. Wolfe, who was appointed to this role in early June.
“This new structure, and the emerging partnerships it makes possible, ensure that the Division of Student Affairs places the highest priority on student-oriented programs and services,” says Wolfe, who joined the Division of Student Affairs after 18 years with the University, most recently as dean of Hendricks Chapel. “Thanks to the ongoing expertise and new collaborations among division staff and our partners across the institution, we will be able to move forward in ways that are sure to engage and benefit our current and future students.”
In broad stokes, the realignment moves the division’s existing units and services into three working portfolios: Health and Wellness; Student Learning; and Inclusion, Community, and Citizenship. Each portfolio will be led by an associate vice president, who will report to the interim senior vice president and dean of student affairs. Central support and division-wide services will be provided by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. “These groupings of offices tell the world what we are about,” says Wolfe. “They are designed to be attractive to students and transparent for the community to see and understand.”
Health and Wellness
“The Health and Wellness portfolio exists to promote the well-being of students’ minds, bodies, spirits and communities,” says Wolfe. “It removes barriers to learning and intervenes on behalf of students whose wellness is in crisis.”
Within the Health and Wellness portfolio, principal units include the Counseling Center, Health Services and the Department of Recreation Services. Additionally, the Options Program will be hosted by the Counseling Center, and the R.A.P.E. Center will be aligned with Health Services.
The R.A.P.E. Center will have a separate and distinct identity, budget, staff and records, and will seek to heighten its profile and availability to students. To this end, the R.A.P.E. Center, under the leadership of Janet Epstein, associate director, will announce in the coming weeks its plans to form a community-wide advisory body to help it reach and connect with all important constituencies. Epstein will supervise fellow R.A.P.E. Center staff member Jill Sneider, sexual education coordinator, and will report to Dr. James R. Jacobs, director of Health Services.
Likewise, the Options Program, which helps students reduce harm from alcohol and other drugs, will seek to increase its impact on the community. The Options Program will be staffed by Options counselor Jim Byrne, who will supervise administrator Melinda Stoffel. Byrne will report to Counseling Center Assistant Director Christopher Cederquist.
The former Office of Prevention Services and its directorship have been eliminated as the R.A.P.E. Center and Options Program have been prominently placed with other units.
Unit directors in the Health and Wellness portfolio will report to Dr. Rebecca Stefan Dayton, associate vice president and a direct report to Wolfe. Dayton, promoted to this new role for her command of both practical competencies and theoretical frameworks for health and wellness, has served as director of the Counseling Center since 1996. Prior to joining SU, Dayton was a clinical fellow at McClean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, specializing in the treatment of trauma, eating disorders and relational issues. Dayton earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993 and has been licensed as a psychologist in New York since 1994. Her clinical interests include broad-based preventative approaches to overall wellness and mental health, as well as working individually with students experiencing depression, anxiety and issues of grief and loss.
Dr. Tanya Bowen, the associate director of the Counseling Center, will be appointed interim director of the center while a national search is conducted.
“In Student Learning, offices and staff create and affirm students’ positive learning outcomes via a wide array of experiential opportunities,” says Wolfe. “These units develop leadership, build self-awareness and enrich students’ understanding of the contexts in which they and others learn.”
Principal units include the Center for Career Services; the Early Education and Child Care Center; Light Work/Community Darkrooms; Student Centers and Programming Services; and the Office of Student Life and its constituent functions: student engagement, fraternity and sorority affairs, and traditions.
Leading the Student Learning portfolio will be Sylvia T. Langford, who has been chosen for the position based on her training and expertise in student development theory. Langford was previously the special assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life at the University of Massachusetts- Amherst. Langford will report to Wolfe as associate vice president. She has been an educator or administrator since 1982; her experience includes service as director of the Mathematics Learning Center at North Carolina Central University; director of minority recruitment for the Admissions and Financial Aid Office of Dartmouth College; dean of Upperclass Students and class dean for that college; and interim director of career services for UMass-Amherst. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a master’s degree from Dartmouth.
Inclusion, Community, and Citizenship
“The Inclusion, Community, and Citizenship portfolio enables a unique Syracuse University culture of inclusion and engaged citizenship,” says Wolfe. “It builds capacity for community participation and global understanding, and it helps students respond to crises and opportunities in ways that build their personal responsibility.”
Within the portfolio are the Slutzker Center for International Services; the Office of Judicial Affairs; the Office of Learning Communities; the Office of Residence Life (ORL); the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center; the Office of Orientation and Off-Campus Programs; and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The Division of Student Affairs’ contributions to the University’s intergroup dialogue programming will be led by this portfolio.
James K. Duah-Agyeman will continue as director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and will develop his role as chief diversity officer and charter representative to the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
Also in this portfolio, Seth A. Tucker will become the director of Student Assistance. In this role, Tucker will be responsible for helping students navigate and overcome crises and University administrative procedures. Tucker will be a central contact point for students seeking individual intervention or support from the Division of Student Affairs. He will also work on development of student life policies and protocols.
All of this portfolio’s directors will report to Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, who has been promoted to the position of associate vice president, which is a direct report to Wolfe. She will provide expertise and advocacy for student learning outcomes, as well as a strong grounding in community building. She has served as director of residence life since 2002. In that time, she has been instrumental in enhancing ORL’s intentional educational programming. Prior to joining SU, Kantrowitz was Hamilton College’s assistant dean of students and director of residence life. There, she had oversight of the judicial system and led the establishment of that college?s Office of Residence Life. Her other professional experiences include residence life positions at the University of California-Berkeley and Niagara University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Allegheny College and a master’s degree in education with a concentration in counseling at Niagara University.
Terra Peckskamp, director of the Office of Learning Communities for Student Affairs, will be appointed interim director of ORL and a search will be conducted for that position.
Office of the Senior Vice President
To streamline the division’s leadership organization and improve its focus on students, the Office of the Senior Vice President (OSVP) will centrally administer several functions that either provide services to divisional units or directly serve students and their families. Of note, the Parents Office will be moved into the Office of the Senior Vice President, with Director Colleen O’Connor Bench reporting directly to Wolfe. Kristen Jones Kolod, formerly director of budget and operations, will be promoted to the new role of executive director of budget and administrative operations, with responsibility for strategic oversight of the financial, technology, human resources and facility requirements of the division as a whole.
“As we live into our new structure, the outstanding people in the Division of Student Affairs should be proud of the work we have done during our reorganization and excited about the new capabilities we have for serving students,” says Wolfe. “This new organizational structure serves as a robust link between the University and its students, and provides for many new opportunities for communication, sharing of knowledge and improved collaboration. I am confident that this new structure is uniquely appropriate to supporting students’ engagement, and I am sure that our colleagues and peers will appreciate its grounding in the best practices in student affairs.”