Campus Life restructures staff roles

Discussions within the Office of Campus Life have led to further changes in staffing and a vacancy in a position serving both the Center for Community Engagement and the Multicultural Center.

Staff restructuring has become a persistent theme since the formalization of Campus Life four years ago. Last spring, Campus Life announced that it would replace the four Campus Life Coordinators (CLCs) with one Student Life Activities Coordinator and two Residential Life Coordinators (RLCs). In this setup, the Spencer and Wood RLC would serve a collateral role as Queer Life Coordinator, while the Dodd and Currier RLC would maintain a collateral role as Community Engagement Coordinator.

Over the summer, however, Campus Life did not hire a second RLC. “We interviewed four candidates without a successful hire,” said Doug Schiazza, director of Campus Life. “It was a lot more difficult to find someone to fit that bill than we thought previously, so instead of opening another search, we decided to restructure.”

Currently, former Wood CLC Tim Leonard acts as Student Activities Coordinator. David Schoenholtz, whose role was originally RLC for Dodd and Currier with a collateral role in the Center for Community Engagement, now serves as RLC for all four neighborhoods. Schoenholtz’s new position does not include any collateral roles.

The two collateral roles of Community Engagement Coordinator and Queer Life Coordinator remain unfilled. Rick Spalding, chaplain to the College, and Gail Bouknight-Davis, director of the Multicultural Center (MCC), are spearheading the search for a new staff member whose duties would be split equally between Community Engagement and Queer Life.

“Gail and I found ourselves in early July with no one to fill these roles,” Spalding said, calling it a “far from optimal situation.” “We had to try to fill this newly created position on quite short notice with summer plans already made,” he said.

Spalding explained that he and Bouknight-Davis envisioned a one-year internship similar to those offered in the admission office and Office of Career Counseling (OCC) for recent graduates. Given the flexibility of the community engagement duties, the two proceeded by compiling lists of recent alumni with relevant experience for the queer life component of the position. Bouknight-Davis then individually telephoned the prospective candidates. Although several expressed interest, none were able to accept the invitation on such short notice.

Advertising on the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Alumni Network (BiGLATA) alumni e-mail listserver has yielded two serious inquiries. Nonetheless, Spalding said that he and Bouknight-Davis are “preparing for the possibility that we won’t get anyone in time for the first weeks of the school year.” He added that both of them learned of the changes in Campus Life staffing only after being asked by Dean Merrill to begin the hiring process for the newly-configured position.

Meanwhile, a number of individuals are compensating for the missing personnel. Stewart Burns, director of the Center for Community Engagement, Spalding, Bouknight-Davis and other individuals have put in extra hours over the summer to prepare for their many ongoing projects.

In the Campus Life office, Schoenholtz has also enlisted the help of Aaron Gordon, assistant director of Campus Life. With duties previously managed by four CLCs now delegated to one RLC, Schoenholtz said that there was “no way for me to handle all of them alone.” “[S]everal roles in the office were redefined because of the restructuring,” Schoenholtz said later in an e-mail. “Much of the work . . . was never meant for just one person.”

Schiazza, however, is optimistic about the changes. “Already [the new restructuring] is better. Each person having one primary focus area instead of multiple is good,” he said. “Our past CLCs did a great job, but it was a balancing act between their collateral roles and their residential life duties.”