Dear Campus Community,
By now everyone knows that I am focused on three pillars for achieving excellence and preeminence at the University of Oregon—building academic quality and research, improving access and success, and enhancing the student experience. So it should come as no surprise that these priorities are driving my decisions to fill the leadership needs for our student life programs and services. As I announced last week, after nearly 25 years at the UO, Vice President for Student Life Dr. Robin Holmes has accepted a new job with the University of California System. Her last day with the UO is October 18.
Maintaining strong and consistent leadership within the student life portfolio is my key objective. We have a world-class student life division that does an amazing job supporting students’ social, emotional, health, and residential needs on campus. But we also must recognize that the demands placed on student life here and nationally have changed dramatically over the years. Today it includes much greater responsibility to address conduct issues, sexual assault, and a myriad of student health and welfare issues, ranging from the needs of fraternities and sororities to the aspirations of many of our multicultural groups. Student tastes and expectations of the basic services provided by a university have evolved and the housing, dining, and recreational offerings are also vastly more sophisticated as a result. Our Division of Student Life budget is more than $110 million per year and the division employs about 850 professional staff members and more than 1,500 students.
While our departments and infrastructure are world-class, there are always opportunities for growth and improvement in an organization of this size and complexity. Recognizing this evolution in student life and our need to continue to create an exceptional student experience, I have decided to build upon the strengths of the departments and reorganize several of the division’s auxiliary business functions to a different administrative portfolio, which I’ll address in a moment.
The Division of Student Life will remain one of our largest and most complex units on campus, providing services through the Career Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Erb Memorial Union, Department of Physical Education and Recreation, and the Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. I am delighted that Kevin Marbury, director of physical education and recreation, has agreed to serve as interim vice president for student life.
Kevin has a strong background in higher education administration and student life. Prior to joining the UO in 2012, Kevin was director of recreation and wellness at Old Dominion University and he has served as vice president for student life at Edward Waters College. Under Kevin’s leadership, recreational programs and facilities at the UO have become the benchmark of excellence for universities across the country. Equally important, Kevin has time and time again demonstrated that he is a trusted advisor to our students, always placing their welfare above all else. I am confident in Kevin’s ability, with the support of the already outstanding team of directors, to maintain the exceptional student experience at the UO while we conduct a national search for new vice president for student life.
In addition, I am promoting Roger Thompson to the position of vice president for student services and enrollment management. In doing this, I will move some key pieces of student services under the leadership of a talented and capable administrator. In this new structure, Roger will continue to oversee Enrollment Management, but we will add the auxiliary services of University Housing, Academic Extension, the University Health Center, and the University Counseling and Testing Center to his portfolio. This move is permanent and takes effect October 19.
Since joining the UO in 2010, Roger has helped make tremendous strides in our student recruitment and retention efforts, including significant growth in the diversity and academic quality among incoming students. Roger and his team know our students well and understand their needs and aspirations. Putting housing, health, and counseling and testing services under Roger’s leadership creates strong alignment between the expectations we set for prospective students and their families during the recruitment process and the experience we provide those students on campus. Having these services under one administrative roof also creates real opportunities for operational efficiencies, while supporting our student success priorities.
Likewise, having Academic Extension housed within this organization offers tremendous opportunities for growth and enhancement of programs that extend our teaching and research mission beyond traditional campus boundaries. This includes distance and online education, summer session, continuing education, and lifelong learning courses. I expect this closer relationship among student recruitment, student services, and academic extension will result in new ideas and entrepreneurial efforts that support local, regional, national, and international engagement. Roger will work closely with academic partners across campus and the provost’s office to deliver a successful implementation of this change.
Kevin and Roger will quickly create a transition committee that will work to ensure the reorganization efforts are a success. Please join me in thanking both of them for their willingness to take on these new responsibilities. I know each will be supported by the excellent existing employees and departments, and each is committed to our shared vision for the UO, to supporting student success and experience, and to maintaining the strong upward momentum we have built together.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law