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Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning established to foster positive student experiences
Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning established to foster positive student experiencesJuly 19, 2002Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
A realignment within Syracuse University’s Division of Student Affairs–which has combined the Office of Greek Life and recognized student organizations into the Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning–is charting the course for future out-of-the-classroom student experiences at Syracuse University.
The new model divides the former Student Activities Office into two distinct areas. In one area, newly appointed Director of Student Events Ellen King will oversee University-driven events on behalf of students, such as Perc Place (the University’s coffeehouse), Homecoming events, senior celebrations and the award-winning Arts Adventure program. King brings extensive experience in business and marketing to her new position.
The second area, the Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning, is focused on leadership development with recognized student organizations. Associate Dean of Students Joseph Oravecz, who began in his new position on July 1, will oversee the office.
The realignment is a result of a review of the programming and services offered through the Schine Student Center that was done during the spring semester, says Dean of Students Anastasia Urtz. Both areas are aimed at fostering successful student experiences, and both incorporate a significant focus on diversity.
“The Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning represents a commitment to collaboration by students, faculty and staff members. This new office will build on the strengths of our recognized student organizations while ensuring that programs and services for students are also expanded,” Urtz says.
The mission of the new Office of Greek Life and Experiential Learning is to “help students create a Syracuse University experience that fosters leadership development, good citizenship, creative expression and the celebration of diversity. It accomplishes that mission by training students to exercise organizational responsibilities; involving students in innovative leadership development experiences; creating opportunities for collaboration among recognized student organizations; and promoting student involvement on campus and the broader community.” Oravecz and his staff of nine will provide oversight, guidance and assistance to the University’s 40 Greek chapters and approximately 200 recognized student organizations. This model, Urtz and Oravecz say, is more inclusive and will provide the Greek chapters and other recognized student organizations with more resources.
Even the office space, located in the former Student Activities Office in 126 Schine, has been reconfigured. Office space for student organizations was strategically configured to promote diversity and heighten the students’ experience by interacting with their peers.
“My background is in peers educating peers,” says Oravecz, who was a senior doctoral associate in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs at Florida State University prior to coming to SU. He has an extensive background in student affairs administration. “The students take the initiative, and we provide them with the necessary skills.”
The realignment will have a positive impact on the University’s approximately 2,500 Greek students not only by providing more staff and resources, but also by embracing what the Greek chapters can give to other student organizations, Urtz and Oravecz say.
“We want to set the standard, to be at the forefront of making Greek life work in a large urban setting,” Oravecz says.
The University’s newly established fee for co-curricular initiatives, $120 annually assessed to full-time undergraduate students to enhance the co-curricular, out-of-class experience for students, including an expansion of a grant program for diversity-related programs within the Division of Student Affairs, will provide more resources for the Greek chapters and other recognized student organizations. Oravecz also sees a great potential for collaboration between the office and other divisions on campus.
The new configuration also includes a student-learning assessment component that will be led by Joshua McIntosh, associate director for administration and assessment.
King and Oravecz are heading a transition team that is educating the staff on new processes, establishing traditions, brainstorming fresh ideas and capitalizing on the rich potential that exists in each area.
“We are not looking to provide just a college education, but a college experience,” Oravecz says.