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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Next Candidate Please

Subsequent to the departure of former Dean of Students Stephanie Janey, the Office of Student Affairs is being restructured and will be under the leadership of a vice chancellor, who will report directly to the chancellor. The four candidates who are finalists for the position each appeared on campus to participate in a series of meetings with administrators, students and the community at large.

The final candidates met with students for at least an hour and discussed issues that either they or the students raised about the new vice chancellor position.

The four meetings differed in tone greatly depending on the candidate’s style. Some of the candidates displayed their ability to listen, while others displayed their ability to intimidate or amuse students. One candidate took the time to distribute resumes, while others did not feel the courtesy was necessary.

During most of the meetings students candidly raised their concerns about the disarray and lack of leadership they currently perceive in the department of Student Affairs. But at other times students listened to an overbearing candidate express views on how things will be done, or listened to a flighty candidate discuss unrelated issues.

The dialogue ranged from startlingly frank, often featuring questions about how a candidate would deal with an entrenched union employee who rarely appears to work, to nonsensical, featuring a monotonous reiteration by the candidate about how the candidate enjoys spending ime with students and staff.

Overall reaction by students to the process was positive. On the other hand, some students received information that a decision had already been reached and the meetings were largely a public relations tool, possibly resulting in some of the student leaders deciding not to continue to participate.

Educational Management Network was the company charged with finding a Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for UMass Boston, but it is unclear exactly what criteria was used to select the candidates who were chosen to be finalists.

It is also unclear how much influence student opinions would be counted into the process, though some believe that, due to inexperience, perhaps students are not qualified to be adding to the process.

Kevin Rome

Coming from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), which has a system like UMass, Kevin Rome says the problems at UMass Boston are happening all over the country, like residential housing.

A school can have a strong commuter and residential populace, he said. Both can co-exist, and services can be provided for both.

“This will always be a commuter campus,” he said of UMass Boston. “There isn’t enough space. You’re landlocked.”

Both can happen in the same space, but Rome warned against getting so focused on the younger student, that the non-traditional student is forgotten, unless there are structures in place.

Rome is also popular with the students over at Indiana University, since they have asked him to be their keynote speaker at their banquet, something at which he was shocked and proud of.

While at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Rome lists creating the first Student Retention Conference, and co-authoring a chapter in a book on African-American males in college as some of his major accomplishments.

Marijo O’Grady

Thirteen thousand students attend Pace University, a thousand of which live on campus. Students work to pay for school, and there is no majority on campus. Eighty-five percent are reportedly commuters.

“Every day is different,” says Marijo O’Grady. “The students revitalize me.”

With five years as dean under her belt, O’Grady says she is looking for a different challenge, and sees a vice chancellor-ship at UMass Boston as a “dream job,” since she has relatives in the area and isn’t sure if she wants to raise her three-year old in New York City. She emphasizes she is a “state school kid.” Tuition at Pace is nearly $20,000 a year.

Under her watch, campus activities were stepped up, as was leadership development. She’s gone in the dunk tank, and chatted online with students.

J. Keith Motley

Having been at Northeaster University since he was a student, current Dean of Student Services at Northeaster J. Keith Motley started a department of admissions and was an assistant dean of discipline, as well as being responsible for the African-American Institute, and several leadership programs.

His first project was to renovate the Student Center, and building residence halls. When he came, 3700 students were housed in dorms, which now stands at 6000 out of 14000.

While having had “a lot of growth and opportunity” at Northeastern, Motley says he sees the potential here at UMass Boston. Mentioning that his wife has a Master’s Degree from here, he said how he saw the books that would come in the mail, and items such as the chancellor’s inauguration speech.

He noticed right away, “Student Affairs needs to engage students more, since the Dean’s Office is far apart from the student’s.”

But he says he is not going to be the “great savior of the institution,” but “more of a contributor.”

“People need to get out of the offices and engage the students,” he said.

Cynthia Forrest

The heart of the university is “to help you realize your dreams,” says candidate Cynthia Forrest. Forrest grew up in a small town in South Carolina, where her father was a principal and she was always around teachers and schools.

Now, as Dean of Student Services at Framingham State College, Forrest works with students, “always thinking of leadership opportunities” for them, and pointing to how she worked with the student radio station there to tap into the Internet, so they could broadcast online, as many colleges already do.

Forrest also has a history with UMB: She taught a doctoral course in higher education administration, and has been at UMB for several meetings.

G. Dumcius contributed to this report.