Division of Student Affairs restructuring

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The new school year brings about personnel and organizational changes made within the University of Indianapolis Division of Student and Campus Affairs, according to an email sent on July 18 by the office. Former Senior Associate Dean of Student Life and Leadership Steven Freck, former Associate Vice President/Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Jessica Ward and former Executive Director of Student Development Debbie Spinney have departed. Student Conduct, Title IX and other offices have seen administrative updates as well, according to the Office of Student Affairs.

According to Vice President of Student Experience, Success and Belonging Amber Smith, the changes within the department were made to ensure that the department helps the student body while also fulfilling its obligations to the university.

“The university—as a lot of universities—is facing declining enrollment,” Smith said. “And we have to essentially make sure that we are creating a space where we can fulfill the obligations that we have with students while also meeting our financial obligations. We have had to make some changes to try to create more efficiency while also continuing to do the work, but modifying our work as we need to make sure that we are able to meet the demands of our students while also meeting the obligations of the university.”

Updated division changes within the Office of Student Affairs include Rob Williford serving as Associate Dean of Judicial Affairs and Residence Life and Cari Freed serving as Title IX Coordinator, according to the email sent by the Office of Student Affairs.

“The activities, experiences and events will not change,” Smith said. “We have a small campus, so whenever someone is not here, we notice it, so that is [a] change, but as far as the activities and the things that we are engaging with, we definitely want to keep those things.”

Smith said that a key focus for the Office of Student Affairs is how the organizational changes could impact the lives of students on campus. According to Smith, the goal is to look at ways the offices could blend together.

“What I have been looking at is how these offices flow in a way where we understand how what we are doing is impacting the student, because you are experiencing one University of Indianapolis,” Smith said

The main focus of the office this year is to support students holistically, with a focus on mental and spiritual well-being, according to the email. Smith said that the Office of Inclusive Excellence is taking this initiative by showcasing an exhibit related to students’ mental health.

“The Office of Inclusive Excellence has a new exhibit called “Heart,” and it is focused around mental health,” Smith said. “[This year] we are focusing on a huge mental health initiative to help students connect with resources but also make it [mental health care] part of their daily lives. There is still a stigma associated with mental health right? So the exhibit that is in the Intercultural Engagement Center, which opens to the public in December, is focused around expression of emotion.”

According to Smith, Student Affairs could see changes in the way its workflow is divided among staff. The goal of this is to create synergy within the office, to improve the experiences of students on campus, Smith said.

The Office of Student Affairs is trying to be more involved in students’ life and wellbeing than before, according to Smith. Smith said that the office is looking to learn more about the student experience in order to create better morale on campus.

“We are wanting to look closer at how students are experiencing UIndy and be intentional about creating an experience that we know is meaningful to them,” Smith said. “And so as educators, creatives and innovators, that is our job. It is definitely one that requires a certain level of vulnerability and humility.”

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