Student Life shuffles responsibilities

In the wake of Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Sias’ late April departure to assume the presidency at Kentucky State University, several Student Life administrators have reorganized job responsibilities to fill her shoes.

Although students won’t see any immediate changes to services offered, administrators hope the move will reap rewards in the long run.

“I think the benefit to students ultimately will be a more integrated approach to activities and services,” said Phyllis Blanck, who has been named assistant dean of students in addition to her current role as Student Union director.

In another reassignment, former Associate Dean of Students Donna Rogers has been promoted to interim assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students to succeed Darrelene Rachavong. Rachavong was promoted to assume Sias’ position on an interim basis.

In her new capacity, Rogers is now responsible for academic dishonesty cases. Blanck will assist her in the handling of these cases.

The Student Life management team sees the restructuring as an outgrowth of the rapid development the division has undergone in conjunction with the ever-growing enrollment of the university.

“The Student Union has really come into its own in the last couple of years,” Blanck said. “There’s not a single area of student life that isn’t growing and that’s very rewarding.”

Patty Atchley, Mary Walters and Jay Miller, the directors of student development, activities and media respectively, will now report to Blanck instead of Rogers.

Rogers said some of the administrative changes were planned before Sias’ departure, but occurred sooner due to the announcement.

“It’s part of the natural growth (of student life). I think the changes will really strengthen the Union and programming aspect of student life,” Rogers said.

To further foster growth and awareness of Student Life programs, the division is making plans to expand its staff this fall to include a marketing position.

The new staff member will work with The UTD Mercury, the Student Union Advisory and Activities Board (SUAAB) and other student organizations to encourage student participation.

“For years, no matter how many ways we get the word to students, we hear them say ‘There’s nothing to do on campus.’ This will be a way to get the message out in a more targeted way,” Rogers said.

In its most recent budget deliberations, the student fees committee recommended funding for the full-time professional position beginning Sept. 1. Upon final approval of the budget, the SU administration will advertise during the summer for candidates with backgrounds in both marketing and student life, Blanck said.

“We want an enthusiastic, creative, marketing-type person. It’s not uncommon for unions to have a marketing position,” Rogers said.

The proposal for the position, put forth by the SU administration, began as a discussion to update the existing signage around campus.

Administrators hope a new marketing position will make better use of the existing modes of event publicity and possibly create new ones.

“We hope they will come up with creative opportunities that either we haven’t thought of or haven’t had time to pursue,” Rogers said.

The marketing manager will focus solely on student life events within campus. Rogers said position will not to aid in recruiting or as an extension of the existing News & Information department of the university.

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