The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Reorganization of Student Affairs to continue through Spring

By Brian Martucci

Macalester is halfway through restructuring the Student Affairs department, Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre and Associate Dean of Students Jim Hoppe said this week.

Beginning last spring, the process of merging Residential Life and Campus Programs under the Student Affairs heading has yielded two new positions: Assistant Dean of Students Irene Kao and Residential Life Director Peggy Olsen.

According to Hoppe, the second phase of the restructuring will begin during the spring semester. Two new positions — an Associate Director of Campus Programs and a Director of Campus Life — will come out of that reorganization. The college will begin recruiting for these positions in December.

As the new structure becomes established, the Student Affairs division is without two particularly visible Macalester employees who worked closely with students. Assistant Director of Campus Programs Tara Stormoen-Martinez and Leadership Coordinator Ramon Knox left their jobs here for similar positions at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Augsburg College, respectively.

While Knox’s position was slated for elimination by the restructuring, Stormoen’s departure was unexpected.

“[She] saw a promising opportunity in another position and we support her decision to move on,” Director of Campus Programs Brian Wagner said.

Allison Greenlee has filled Stormoen’s post, largely working with student organizations. Karlyn Wegmann is temporarily filling Knox’s position.

According to Hamre, the most dramatic personnel change was the creation of an “umbrella” position, Director of Student Affairs, which is currently filled by Hoppe.

“Jim [Hoppe] has been affected a great deal by the restructuring,” Hamre said. “He used to have two people working under him, and now he has around 20.”

Macalester has also been busy restructuring divisions other than Student Affairs. Other areas of the college that have changed include the Community Service Office, which was renamed the Civic Engagement Center and is now a part of the Institute for Global Citizenship. In addition, as part of its transformation into the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Chapel has created a new position to oversee the administration of a Lilly Foundation grant that funds student awards.

Some staff members will see fatter paychecks as a result of the shake-up. One staff member from both Winton Health Services and Facilities Management are being bumped up from three-quarter’s-time to full-time.

According to Hoppe, the second phase of the restructuring will eliminate Wagner’s current position by the end of spring semester. In an interview, Wagner did not say whether he planned to leave the college at that time.

The ultimate aim of restructuring Student Affairs is to reduce bureaucracy and put more of the college’s staff members in positions that directly address students’ needs, Hamre said.

“We want our staff to have more direct responsibility for our students — we want more student government and student organization advisors and fewer middle managers sitting at a desk all day,” she said.

This year’s first-years and transfer students were the first to feel the effects of the restructuring.

According to Wagner, the merger of Residential Life and Campus Programs has created overlap in the knowledge and skills of each department. This came in handy during Orientation, Wagner said, because new students could ask questions of both Residential Life and Campus Programs staff members and receive quick answers rather than bureaucratic referrals to the other division.

“One effect of [the restructuring] has been a reduction in the amount of competition between Campus Programs and Residential Life,” Hoppe said.

Wagner echoed that sentiment.

“This was the smoothest first week we’ve had in my six years here,” he said.

Student organizations should also begin to notice some changes.

According to Wagner, the restructuring has doubled the number of staff members on the “front lines” where they can directly assist student organizations.

“Our goal was to place more staff in the position of assisting student orgs in the planning of events and challenging them to come up with new and different events,” he said.

Long-term, Hoppe and Wagner both expect Student Affairs to integrate campus programming more closely into the everyday lives of Macalester students. Ideally, programs would build off each another. Common themes might run through a series of programs in different media — a film about global warming followed by a guest lecture and a hands-on, school-sponsored service opportunity, for example.

“Macalester is essentially a residential campus — even the students who live off-campus can’t really be considered commuters because they live so close — and we intend to use the close-knit community already in place here to get students even more involved in campus life,” Wagner said.

Hoppe and Wagner also hope in the future to get students more involved in the decisions made by Residential Life. Hoppe noted that Macalester lacks a feature common to many of its liberal arts peers, student-run governmental structures within residence halls.

“While we don’t necessarily want to go that route, we do want to create a more consistent method for getting input about Res Life policy. We’d like to create a dialogue between students and staff here,” he said.

For their part, students not directly involved in on-campus orgs have not yet seemed to notice the effects of the restructuring.

“This year feels the same as last year so far,” Oscar Boyle-Mejia ’09 said.

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