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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Staff Shakeups in Student Life

Interim Director of student Life Jain Ruduvich-Higgins
John Kane III
Interim Director of student Life Jain Ruduvich-Higgins

The interim chancellor has selected an interim special assistant to the interim chancellor, resulting in interim openings to be appointed by the interim vice chancellor of student affairs.

When Interim Chancellor J. Keith Motley took his position this August, he not only left his seat as vice chancellor of Student Affairs open, but also managed to spur a chain reaction of moves within the office on down.

Former Associate Dean of Student Affairs Christopher Hogan followed Motley to the corner office as special assistant to the Chancellor. Charlie Titus, athletics director since 1980, ascended to interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

Hogan’s vacancy in Students Affairs office will be filled by new Interim Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Joyce Morgan. Morgan, who has held her position as director of Student Life for five years and was singled out for her cheerful enthusiasm when ex-Chancellor Jo Ann Gora first came to campus, is excited about the temporary move.

Morgan says she’s been aware of the impending promotion, and has been waiting for final conversations and paperwork to go through and to make the Student Life staff aware before beginning to tell students and the rest of the community.

“Some of the students are like, ‘Well, can we come and see you?’ and it’s like absolutely, that’s why I do what I do whatever, wherever I do it. So most definitely I hope to maintain the same level of student contact and be working for the students and for their needs,” she said. “I’m making this move and in the interim basis one of my hopes is that I’ll be able to have their voice and needs heard at different tables than maybe what I am invited to now as director. Maybe I might have a chance to share what I know of their experiences and their needs to some different folks in this role.”

Assuming Morgan’s former position as director of Student Life is Jain Ruvidich-Higgins, coordinator of the Office of Service Learning. Rudivich-Higgins, who got her undergraduate degree in UMass Boston’s Continuing Education program while working as a laborer at a downtown Boston construction site, has also worked in the Chancellor’s Office and the Politics and Public Policy Program.

Last week, in the midst of moving in to her new office, Ruvidich-Higgins said she was eager to begin working alongside the Student Life staff and looking to Morgan for help in her first days in the position.

Ruvidich-Higgins added she was ready to settle into her new home in the Campus Center, neighboring many student activities and centers. “Because of the openness, you can see what everyone is doing,” she said. “The energy is contagious.”

In consultation with the Student Affairs leadership team and Chancellor Motley, Vice Chancellor Charlie Titus chose Ruvidich and Morgan, both active within Student Affairs, to fill these positions. Titus maintains that all the moves in Student Affairs will have a positive effect on both the office and the university as a whole.

“We didn’t have to go outside the division or outside of the university,” he said. “So, it makes the transition a lot easier because we’ve got people who are familiar with, who understand the nuances and intricacies of this institution.”

“Additionally, we’ve got people who have been advocating for student issues and student life kinds of things on this campus right along. Those people have either stayed in place or are in positions that give them a greater ability to push that advocacy,” Titus added.

Interim Special Assistant to the Chancellor Hogan agrees. “Given the interim nature of things at this point, I think we’ve moved the right people into the right positions in order to make sure we can maintain some continuity from what we did last year in Student Affairs to what we want to have happen this year in Student Affairs,” he said. “Our key primary objective is to make sure we have the strongest Division of Student Affairs possible this year and moving forward.”

According to Hogan, each of these new positions will be in place and up and running by the beginning of October.

Of the potential for these positions to become permanent, Hogan says, “there’s always that potential. I think that we put a plan in place that’s going to make sure that we don’t miss a beat this year.” He added that interim appointment does not guarantee permanent appointment when and if that opportunity arises.

Titus noted the feelings on campus towards permanent appointments.”I really think that this campus has galvanized around Dr. Motley’s leadership and I think that, at least from my feelings on campus and most everyone I talk to at this point would love to see him become permanent chancellor,” says Titus. “So, part of it is for all of us who want to see that we have to do everything we can to make sure that this is an exciting year for the university, that it’s a good year, that the students needs get met, that we continue to grow and build, which holds well for his leadership. And that gives us a chance to have him as our permanent chancellor and then we can really address some of the other positions.”

Titus credited the Student Affairs presence in the chancellor’s office to former Chancellor Jo Ann Gora, who left in August to assume the presidency at Ball State University.

“The fact that you had a chancellor like Jo Ann Gora who had the good foresight and courage to raise Student Affairs from a dean’s level to a vice chancellor level, to bring in a Student Affairs professional like Dr. Motley,” he said. “And, the fact that he is now sitting in the chancellor’s seat with a background in Student Affairs had to be good for Student Affairs. I don’t think that he’s going to lean towards Student Affairs in an unfair way. He’s the chancellor for the whole university so his view is different now. But I will put it this way, it’s better to have a chancellor who has a background in Student Affairs than a chancellor who has no background in student affairs from where we [the Student Affairs staff] sit…and, I would imagine the students would feel the same way.”