As classes begin, some administrators working in Binghamton University’s Division of Student Affairs will be taking on new responsibilities.
In a Dateline statement on July 30, Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, announced he would be establishing an interim organization for the 2018-19 academic year following the departure of several high-ranking administrators within the department, including April Thompson, former dean of students; Marty Wygmans, former executive director of student services; and Calvin Gantt, former director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Currently, the division has 13 vacancies, four of which are senior positions.
“There is nothing remarkable about the current number of vacancies itself whether for Binghamton or for a student affairs organization at any other similarly sized university,” Rose wrote in an email. “Summer is the most common time for people to change positions. What was more atypical was that we had three relatively senior staff leave all at the same time.”
Thompson, who was tasked with overseeing a variety of areas impacting students and their families, left the University after being hired as the vice president of student life and dean of students at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. The bulk of her duties will be assumed by Randall Edouard, who has been appointed interim dean of students. Edouard will supervise campus activities, fraternity and sorority life, TRiO programs and programs for students, families and veterans, according to the Dateline statement. He will also continue to oversee off-campus programs and act as co-chair of the Town Gown Advisory Board, responsibilities that he held as assistant dean of students.
In a welcome letter posted on the University website, Edouard wrote that he hopes to promote a safe, healthy and inclusive environment for students during his time as dean of students.
“Some changes have taken place at the University this summer, so I am both honored and excited to be your interim dean of students, working with a stellar team of people to provide support to you and your fellow students,” Edouard wrote. “I’m confident that the transition will be a smooth one, especially since we’ve been preparing for the start of the fall semester all summer.”
Edouard will be assisted by Johann Fiore-Conte, assistant vice president for health and wellness, who will supervise case management services and the Office of Student Conduct, and Kelli Smith, assistant vice president for career programs and experiential education, who will lead the Discovery Program, transfer student services and several leadership programs.
“I have confidence that the staff will do great work moving forward,” Thompson said. “My colleagues and the dean of students teams have been strong partners since the day I arrived, and they are well prepared to take on new roles.”
Steve Rebello, assistant director of TRiO programs, will assume Wygmans’ responsibilities, and following Gantt’s departure, Karima Legette, a senior academic counselor, has been named interim director of the EOP.
In addition to the three vacancies caused by departures over the summer, the Division of Student Affairs is also seeking a new director of residential life, a position that was opened when Suzanne Howell, associate dean of students, was promoted in April 2018. At the time of Thompson’s departure, she was overseeing the search for a new director. Now, Paola Mignone, who was formerly the assistant dean for financial operations at Residential Life, will act as interim director. Mignone wrote in an email that she intends to continue several ongoing projects in Residential Life, including the renovation of residence halls.
“This year, Residential Life will be engaging in a number of conversations regarding how the Residential Life team can help support student success and what makes our Residential Life program distinctive,” Mignone wrote. “We look forward to engaging in those conversations with students, faculty and staff.”
Outside of the Division of Student Affairs, the University also has a vacancy for a new vice president for advancement and executive director of the BU Foundation. The position, which was held by Jim Broschart until he left BU in January 2018, was initially supposed to filled by Andrew Watkins. However, Watkins declined the offer. According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations, the search for a new hire will resume in January 2019.
According to Rose, day-to-day student services should not be impacted by the vacancies within his department. Rose wrote that he intends to start looking for senior staff hires in the spring.
“We do not anticipate that the typical staff turnover will affect our capacity to provide services in any of our offices,” Rose wrote. “We will spend some time this semester determining our most important needs before beginning a search for a new senior staff member in the spring. From there we’ll review the status of any interim appointments.”