One year ago, we embarked on a new structure for our Student Affairs and Services programs, aligning these important programs more closely with Residential and Hospitality Services. This was due in part to some staffing changes, but also to better align programs supporting our students.
During the past year, it has become evident that the synergies attained by more closely aligning our student-facing services have been beneficial to the student experience for both on-campus and off-campus students. We know that the student experience does not start and stop at the borders of a residence hall, classroom or city limits. Our university is committed to student success from matriculation through graduation, regardless of where a student may reside. Therefore, I will now be making this temporary realignment permanent.
The units formerly within the Division of Student Affairs and Services and the units formerly within Residential and Hospitality Services will merge into a new consolidated unit, the Division of Student Life and Engagement. Senior Vice President Vennie Gore will serve as the leader of this new division, pending Board of Trustees approval at their Oct. 29 meeting.
During the next year, the newly unified division will embark on an intentional process to create one seamless division with a central mission and values. This will create a transformative world-class model of the student experience that maximally aligns our support for students inside and outside the classroom. Improving alignment to support all students is consistent with one of the goals outlined in our new strategic plan, and I believe this structural change will help increase the success of all students, increase our graduation rates and reduce the opportunity gaps across subgroups of students while we prepare everyone for postgraduate success.
I am confident that Vennie is the right person to lead this transformation. He is an exemplary and transformational leader. He has been integral in supporting student success through the co-creation of the Neighborhoods concept, expansion of mental health services for students directly in their residence halls and providing programming and support for students living on campus. His efforts, in strong partnership with the provost and academic deans, have resulted in shortening the time to graduation and making progress on closing our achievement gaps. Vennie is also a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion and leads the planning efforts for MSU’s Multicultural Center Project.
We have already seen the strength of these two units partnering over the past year, especially during a year of such challenge and change. I am excited to see the difference these united groups can make in the lives of our Spartans.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)