Following the SGA retreat last Fall, Student Affairs underwent a reorganization.
The Division of Student Affairs went through a major restructuring over the summer, with the goal being to become more accessible to students. The department divided into three sections focusing on care, community, and career. The Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement, The Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, and The Center for Career and Life Services are each composed of different offices and sections from Student Affairs.
Each of these departments reports to newly appointed Assistant Vice President; Megan Harte Weyant is in charge of Campus Involvement, Micki Meyer oversees Community Engagement, and Lisa Johnson runs Career Services. They all were hired internally.
Vice President of Student Affairs Mamta Accapadi had been considering reorganizing Student Affairs, and she began talking to students an SGA retreat last fall. She noticed some common problems the students had, and decided to reorganize Student Affairs to make it more accessible.
Issues ranged from a feeling of separation between departments to a desire for more faculty involvement. Several students also felt as if it was difficult to be involved in different ways; for example, some RA’s felt it was difficult for them to be active in departments other than Residential Life, and some students who were active with Multicultural Affairs felt too separate from Student Involvement and Leadership.
“Students were feeling divided loyalties. And of course… I don’t think the staff ever intend that… but sometimes that happens when you’re just kind of focusing on your area,” said Dr. Accapadi.
After the SGA retreat, Student Affairs began to talk to the Rollins community as they considered rearranging. They held a series of focus groups and Dr. Accapadi met with different departments across Rollins, including IT, faculty, and librarians. Over two hundred students and twenty different student organizations also contributed to the conversation. Dr. Accapadi said it was important to her to talk to many different people who would be affected by the change.
“I wanted to get as broad a perspective as possible,” she said.
The Student Government Association was in favor of the process since the retreat where the issues were first discussed.
We supported [Mamta} in the restructuring process because we felt it would positively impact student involvement and make the inclusion offices more cohesive,” said Elise Ablin, SGA President.
The new departments have been advertised in emails, blog posts, and by RA’s and Peer Mentors who received training in the new system over the summer.
The shuffle has not had a negative impact on the budget. With last year’s deficit of almost four million dollars, each department was asked to cut 3-6 percent. Student Affairs accomplished their cuts in addition to the restructuring. They made their budget cuts from vacated positions and did not have to let anyone go.
The only new positions are that of Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Investigator. Both of these positions will report directly to Dr. Accapadi and were created to be in compliance with new federal regulations. Though some existing positions were repurposed, such as an executive assistant role re-dedicated as a student and family care liaison, no other new positions were created.
There are two other departments that will report directly to Dr. Accapadi instead of falling under care, community, or career. The first is the Wellness Center, and the other is International Programs. Both of these will report directly to the Vice President of Student Affairs.
“To me a re-org should be about maximizing opportunity, not creating another barrier of reporting,” said Accapadi.
Accapadi hopes that the restructuring will allow the different areas of Student Affairs to collaborate more, have a better partnership with the faculty, and avoid redundant programming.
“I believe the combination of several offices within student affairs will create the most effective and supportive environment for students. My hope is that with the staff in these offices working so closely with each other, they will create the best possible opportunities for students,” said Ablin.