Building a structure for student success
In spring 2020, Frank Shushok was formally appointed vice president for student affairs, a position he had held as interim since fall 2019. By June, he introduced substantive changes in the Student Affairs leadership structure. These changes have allowed Student Affairs to more fully integrate initiatives related to wellness, inclusion and diversity, first-generation student support, Living-Learning Programs, food security, interfaith programs, and Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) as a way of life as major components in each of the division’s 20 departments.
Shushok calls it a structure for student success.
“Students are our priority,” said Shushok. “We measure our success by their success. Our driving narrative is ‘whatever it takes’ to support the individual success of every student. We will go the extra mile and take personally the success of each student we encounter, with initiatives that span individual departments and utilize the reach and talents of each of them. We will be relentless in removing unnecessary barriers and will evaluate policies and practices in light of the capacity of each to champion student success. Simply put, we can shape the next generation of leaders and the world they create.”
Student Affairs is composed of faculty; full-time staff; wage employees; graduate assistants; and student employees, leaders, and interns — more than 3,600 people who touch nearly every aspect of students’ lives. The programs, essential services, events, and resources Student Affairs provides complement and complete the academic rigor of a Virginia Tech education.
Student Affairs’ 20 departments include the Dean of Students office, Cook Counseling Center, Schiffert Health Center, the Corps of Cadets, Housing and Residence Life, Dining Services, Services for Students with Disabilities, Cranwell International Center, Student Engagement and Campus Life, Student Conduct, and more.
“The people of Student Affairs work together and with other university departments and centers to make the Hokie experience as personally enlightening as it is academically rewarding,” said Shushok. “Every member of Student Affairs has the knowledge and interest to make a positive difference in our students’ lives; to share in our collective commitment to our students, so that together we can fully realize the opportunities we can open for them.”
The new Student Affairs leadership structure is one that champions student success, increases collaboration among departments, highlights key initiatives, emphasizes collective possibility, and aligns the Student Affairs organization for the future.
Key elements of Shushok’s leadership changes include:
· The establishment of a split appointment with the vice president’s office in which Anthony Scott will serve as both senior associate dean of students and director for student affairs inclusion and diversity. As part of Scott’s new responsibilities, he will develop a divisional strategy for strengthening efforts to engage students in programs, conversations, and experiences that develop cultural competency, foster inclusion, build bridges of understanding, and teach effective advocacy.
· Ted Faulkner has assumed the newly created position of assistant vice president for dining, housing, and student centers. As part of this role, Faulkner will share supervision for Housing and Residence Life and Student Engagement and Campus Life, providing exceptional service, facilities, and dynamic physical environments for students. This position participates in a matrix supervisory model designed to nurture seamless integration and remove artificial bureaucratic barriers.
· The dual report of Housing and Residence Life to Chris Wise, assistant vice president for health and wellness, will allow Student Affairs to embark on a re-visioning of the residential experience with an emphasis on well-being. Aspects of Cook Counseling Center, Recreational Sports, and Hokie Wellness will be integrated into the residential living framework, building a foundation of well-being as an important element of student success.
· The establishment of an assistant vice president for student affairs and ExperienceVT will focus broadly around the hope that every student ExperienceVT in a self-designed, intentional, and transformational way. James Bridgeforth will lead this area and serve as a catalyst for these efforts throughout Student Affairs. His responsibilities will include: Cranwell International Center, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Learning Partnerships, the Student Government Association, VT Engage: The Center for Leadership and Service Learning, and Student Engagement and Campus Life – the latter a dual report with the assistant vice president for dining, housing, and student centers.
In addition to Scott, Faulkner, Wise, and Bridgeforth, the Student Affairs leadership team includes:
· Martha Glass, assistant vice president for administration; Departments: Assessment and Professional Development, Communications, Human Resources, Information Technology.
· Byron Hughes, dean of students; Departments: Dean of Students Office, Services for Students with Disabilities, New Student and Family Programs.
· Frances Keene, assistant vice president and chief of staff; Departments: Vice President for Student Affairs, Student Affairs Finance, Planning and Operations, and Student Conduct.
· Maj. Gen. Randal D. Fullhart, commandant of cadets.
· Janice Tawney, chief advancement officer.
· Kristen Abell, interim director of communications.
“We needed a group of leaders to constantly push us to respond to changing student needs and the experiences that will prepare them best for the world they’ll face,” said Shushok. “By working in cross-disciplinary teams, we combine skills, see new opportunities to strengthen the student experience, and learn new things about ourselves. We have such skilled experts across Student Affairs; we’re simply better when we integrate our domains of expertise.
“Our mission, Beyond Boundaries, InclusiveVT, the Aspirations for Student Learning, and our motto, Ut Prosim, remain our guiding lights toward our future. I hope this next three years solidifies a culture that is dynamic, human-centered, adaptable, and always preparing our students to understand the deeply moral calling of Ut Prosim to make the world better for all.”
— Written by Sandy Broughton