The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

University assigns interim dean of students, declines to comment

University assigns interim dean of students, declines to comment - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Jo Anna Benavides-Franke served as dean of students at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Benavides-Franke left the university over the summer. Photo retrieved from A&M-San Antonio's official website

This story has been updated 10:45 a.m. Sept. 27 to add the public records request information that was received Sept. 14.

Officials at Texas A&M University-San Antonio have declined to comment on a decision this summer to appoint an interim dean of students, replacing Jo Anna Benavides-Franke.

On July 8, the university notified employees through an email that Joni Baker, Title IX coordinator, had agreed to serve as interim dean of students. The email, signed by Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin, vice president for student success and engagement, also mentioned a national search would launch in July for a dean of students. The position has not been filled yet as Baker continues to take charge of the position.

Benavides- Franke did not respond to Facebook or Instagram messages sent from The Mesquite on Aug. 25 and Sept. 2.

Jacob Goldstein, Student Government Association president, told The Mesquite SGA is on the search committee for a new dean.

“Unfortunately, the university has not provided any official information with SGA with a justification to removal,” Goldstein said in an Aug. 27 Instagram message.

SGA has taken this opportunity to ensure student representation in choosing the new dean of students, Goldstein said.

The Mesquite submitted an open records request on Sept. 8 to the university to obtain Benavides-Franke’s start and end date along with her salary, but has not received a response by deadline. This story will be updated with the information once received.

The Mesquite received the requested information Sept. 14. Benavides-Franke started with the university Aug. 5, 2013 and her termination date was Aug. 2, 2021. Her final annual salary was $105,096 and the reason for separation was resignation.

Fuentes-Martin, who supervises the dean of students, told The Mesquite “the University does not comment on questions related to personnel,” in an email Aug. 25.

Mike O’Brien, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Aug. 30 he had no information on Benavides-Franke’s departure.

The Mesquite also requested an official university comment from Director of University Communications Jenny Collier and was told “we (the university) do not comment on personnel issues.”

Joni Baker, the interim dean of students and Title IX coordinator, responded to The Mesquite on Aug. 25 saying she was willing to be interviewed after running the request by University Communications.

Baker told The Mesquite in an Aug. 31 email, “with the onset of the semester and the demands of two full-time jobs, I’m not going to have time for an interview.

The July 8 email from Fuentes-Martin began by outlining the mission of the division of student success and engagement and announcing a divisional reorganization. 

The second section described key changes: New Student Program leaders, new Cisneros Institute coordinator position and a title change for Dr. Edwin Blanton. 

The third section explained that Baker would oversee student rights and responsibilities, disability support services and the student counseling center as interim dean of students. Richard Delgado, executive director of Military Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, provides support for student housing. 

In addition to these changes, the email said starting Sept. 1, the Office of New Student Programs and Student Involvement would report to Fuentes-Martin. They will continue to report to her until the dean of students position is filled.

About the Authors

Daisy Gonzalez-Quezada
Daisy Gonzalez-Quezada is a communication senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She transferred from Allen County Community College in Kansas in 2019. In her spare time, she likes to listen to music and watch either sitcoms or K-dramas. She wants to explore the world as a journalist after graduating.
Clarissa Martinez
Clarissa Martinez is a junior communications major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She loves writing about important issues and also loves exploring interesting topics, such as movie and music reviews. In her spare time, she loves listening to music, watching movies and television shows, and going to concerts. In the future, she hopes to end up with a career in Film and Television Production or in Journalism.
Denise Treviño
Assistant Editor
Denise Treviño is a senior communications major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Born and raised in the Alamo City, she has always aspired to make a difference in her community. She hopes to grow her storytelling skills and delve deeper into the world of multimedia journalism through her current work at university. After graduation, she looks forward to pursuing a career that allows her to tell stories that will inspire as well as entertain. In her free time, you will find her watching and analyzing British detective shows on the couch with her dogs Ransom and Dougie, strumming a ukulele or out on a hike with family and friends.

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