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Student Affairs to go through changes

By Danielle Gamble
On January 30, 2013

Student Affairs administrators announced Tuesday that the division is in the process of a major restructuring that will give several current staffers new responsibilities.

Kaye Patten Wallace, vice president for the student experience, said the areas of focus will be advising, experiential learning, student programming and school spirit traditions, as well as counseling and first-year experiences.

“Based on the feedback we got from students this fall, these are the areas that are high priorities, so we wanted to reorganize around them,” she said.

Patten Wallace said the restructuring was driven by the five-year plan introduced by Main Campus Provost Scott Scarborough last month.

She said the idea is to approach all the facets of student affairs as interconnected, which she said will “improve the student experience, and most importantly, improve student retention.”

“With everything that happens in student affairs — programming, working in student leadership — that really is experiential learning,” she said. “Those experiences give students a skill set to prepare them for the real world.”

Patten Wallace said the new plan is “not perfect,” but will evolve as Student Affairs receives feedback.

Student engagement responsibilities will be overseen by Sammy Spann, who has been working as the assistant provost for the Center for International Studies and Programs.

This new area, which includes campus programming and student organizations, will fold international students into broader student programming.

“The international students only make up 12 percent of the population, so you had one person overseeing programming for international students, then someone else doing programming for 88 percent of students,” he said. “There’s better streamlining capabilities if you can have just one person do both.”

Spann said this restructuring will allow Student Affairs to “combine those budgets and deliver a bigger impact.”

“It’s just bringing more different functions together,” he said. “It gives every student the opportunity to enjoy more.”

Spann will also oversee experiential learning and will report directly to the provost.

Experiential learning includes internship opportunities for students, community service opportunities, study abroad programs, the National Student Exchange and the Camp Adventure program.

Spann said initially he was “a little nervous” about some of the changes, but is excited.

“I don’t see it as being overburdened, but … we’re evaluating it and we have a group of people working on all of this,” he said. “It’s going to be based on what the students want.”

Another change brought on by the restructuring is in the duties of the counseling center. The center will now handle the responsibilities of the Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Program, formerly directed by Diane Docis, as well as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention Program, formerly overseen by Alexis Blavos.

Counseling Center Director Stanley Edwards acknowledged that the office will be taking on more responsibilities, but he said it will function mostly in an oversight role.

“We’re going to count on other folks within our division to help us with some of the legwork when it comes to programming,” Edwards said. “It won’t drain us.”

Edwards said the counseling center will develop educational strategies, then other Student Affairs employees will implement them in programs. He said the counseling center will work with the Student Wellness Awareness Team, a peer mentoring group, and collaborate with living learning communities.

“One of the things that’s an area we need to better develop is in making students aware of what we do,” he said. “A lot of students aren’t aware we even exist.”

Edwards said the way to get around that is by “going where the students are” by creating programming that addresses common student pitfalls.

Other changes include:Michele Martinez will no longer be the dean of students. She instead will work with things related to first-year experience and advising. Patten Wallace said Martinez requested the move because it is more connected to the specialty in which she recently received her doctorate.Tamika Dobbins will assume a new role as interim dean of the student experience, an expansion of her previous role of senior service excellence specialist. Patten Wallace said Dobbins will deal with the “administrative aspects” of the Office of the Dean of Students by handling things like student questions and concerns.Angela Paprocki will head up academic support, which includes the Office of Academic Access, all tutoring services, first-year experience and advising. The New Student Orientation Program will move from under Student Affairs and will now be handled by Enrollment Management. Also, the Office of Student Conduct will move to the Office of Residence Life.The Office of Excellence and Multicultural Student Success will be created from the fusion of Office of EXCELlence Programs and the Office of Multicultural Student Success, and will be led by EXCELlence director David Young.Tony Urbina will lead the Office for the Student Experience and the UT Student Experience Steering Committee.

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