By Laura de Leon
Three finalists for the university’s vice president for student affairs position are scheduled to interview on campus Jan. 22-25. The announcement was made Jan. 8 at a War Room meeting during university updates provided by Ken Mitts, vice president of finance and administration.
War Room, open to all members of the campus community, is held the first Tuesday of each month. No further details were provided during the Jan. 8 meeting, but a follow-up interview with Charles Rodriguez, chief of staff and vice president for strategic initiatives and military affairs, confirmed that the interview and selection process is “in progress or imminent.”
The full-time hire marks an expansion of the university’s administration to include a student affairs leader. The vice president for student affairs position was previously held by Mary Ann Grams. Rodriguez said that at this time the vice president for student affairs position is vacant but Mitts is currently serving as the interim lead and is responsible for student affairs and enrollment management.
An Oct. 25 article in The Mesquite reported plans for a national-level search for a vice president for student affairs who is expected to join the university’s leadership team. Read more. The position was posted on the university’s employment opportunities web site Oct. 9 through Nov. 9, 2012.
Christina Martinez, office manager for student affairs, confirmed the programs and departments under student affairs which would likely fall under the administrator’s job responsibilities. They include admissions, career services, disability support services, financial aid, graduation coordination, registrar, recruiting, student counseling, student engagement and success, student life and wellness, military certification office, and the welcome center.
Opportunity for student input
An interview committee, chaired by Rodriguez, includes Eva Mullen, social science senior and student representative. Mullen is also a student leader and one of several Jaguar Ambassadors for the university.
Reached by telephone yesterday, Mullen told a reporter she would be available to take questions on why students would be interested in the academic affairs position and how it pertains to them and requested that questions be sent to her via email. She added that she would answer the questions to the best of her ability but was not authorized to release information about the specific candidates. A follow-up interview will be scheduled for later this month.
Rodriguez confirmed the identity of the candidates and finalists will not be disclosed in order to keep their professional reputations in their current positions protected.
“Members of the interview committee are privy to the candidates and the finalists,” Rodriguez said, “however all have been given instructions not to discuss the interview committee’s work to safeguard the finalists’ professional standing.”
The hiring committee includes Charles Rodriguez, committee chair and chief of staff and vice president for strategic initiatives and military affairs; Megan Wise de Valdez, assistant professor of biology and faculty senate president; Trisha Ruiz, veterans benefits coordinator; Josephine Sosa-Fey, associate professor of business and academic administrator; Margarita Vasquez, director of enrollment management and interim executive director for student affairs; Eric Lopez, academic head of the School of Education; Ken Mitts, vice president of finance and administration; Joe Garcia, assistant to the provost; and Eva Mullen, social science senior and university student leader.
Rodriguez confirmed that “student input is being considered.”
Finalists who are on campus next week will have the opportunity to interact with students in “scheduled casual discussion groups.”
He said, “Students nominated by the interview committee (on the general basis of school and gender representation) will meet casually with each finalist.” All sessions are by-invitation only.
While not required, students invited to candidate sessions will be asked to provide written feedback.
The final hire decision will be made by the candidate’s supervisor, President Maria Hernandez Ferrier, but will have some written input from the interview committee and others appointed, Rodriguez said.
“All written input will be provided to the president for her consideration in making her decision,” Rodriguez said. “After a sole finalist has accepted the terms of an offer, then the university will appropriately share information about the new hire’s identity, background and expected start date.”