Shifting Staff: Edinboro undergoes summer of transition

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at 5:23 PM
Shifting Staff: Edinboro undergoes summer of transition  by Macala Leigey, Hannah McDonald & Dakota Palmer
Photo: Madi Gross

With each new semester comes a number of changes, and for the Fall 2017 semester at Edinboro University, this means new administrative positions, interim appointments and staffing swaps.

The university established two new dean positions — the associate dean of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences and the associate dean of the college of science and health professions — along with reappointing multiple other previously employed faculty and transitioning administrative members to new positions.

While many of the positions, such as the director of themoffice for students with disabilities, dean of students, director of university marketing, and director of residence life, are still being filled, other positions have already been decided. This includes Dr. Jim Wertz, previously a professor in journalism and digital media, taking over as the associate dean of Edinboro’s college of arts, humanities and social sciences.

“The position is fairly dynamic. I assist with the development of new courses and programs in addition to assisting with the development of course schedules from semester to semester,” Wertz said.

He continued: “I’ll also serve as the primary link between our college’s departments, programs and the Dean’s office. In that capacity, I’m hoping to spend a significant amount of time working on recruitment and retention initiatives that the departments can carry out in support of the university’s mission.”

Wertz officially took over the new role on July 1 and will initially serve a two-year appointment in the position.

“I think my expectations (as associate dean), at this point, are the ones I have for myself more than any expectations I have for what the position might bring me. I see this as an opportunity to test myself and expand my skill set while supporting the college,” Wertz said.

Wertz also shared that the biggest transition from holding a position as an associate professor to associate dean is not being in the classroom.

“Trading a classroom for an office has probably had the greatest effect on my routine. At the moment, I miss the direct communication I had with students and advisees on a daily basis, but there’s still a lot of opportunity to work with students from this office,” Wertz said.

Along with Wertz, Dr. Roy Shinn, previous interim associate dean and chair of what is now the department of communication sciences and disorders, took on the position of associate dean of Edinboro’s college of science and health professions.

Shinn took over the new position in August of this year.

“I now interact with many more faculty and administrators, but the core mission of providing high-quality education remains the same,” Shinn said.

He continued: “I work with our nine department chairs on a variety of things such as scheduling, marketing their programs, student recruitment, faculty staffing, and other issues as needed. I work with Dean (Denise) Ohler on a number of initiatives that are designed to make our college stronger and more sustainable, and our students more successful.”

Shinn expressed that this new position required him to give up teaching and advising, “which was difficult because that’s what attracted me here and what I primarily did for the last 30 years.”

However, Shinn also shared his high expectations for his new position.

“I believe we have many very attractive and successful academic programs and facilities in the college, including an array of health professions, computer science, and hard sciences, to name a few.”

Shinn continued: “These programs have the capacity to not only attract good students to Edinboro for years to come, but make life better for those students and the people they ultimately serve. That’s the mission that I strongly believe in and [I] look forward to doing my part to helping it happen and producing results that we can all celebrate.”

Dr. Scott Miller, dean for the college of arts, humanities and social sciences and the dean of the school of business, could not be reached for comment. Miller formerly served as the interim dean of the college of arts, humanities and social sciences.

Edinboro University Provost Michael Hannan added vice president for academic and student affairs to his title.

Hannan has served multiple administrative positions at Edinboro University since 1988, but most recently took over the vice president for academic and student affairs position in July 2017.

“The president, as we were looking at how to reorganize administrative functions, asked if I would oversee the student affairs area as well as the academic affairs,” Hannan said.

He continued: “Actually, there are other schools, such as Slippery Rock, (where) their provost is also the vice president for academic and student affairs. It’s become a little more common nationally to try to have stronger linkage between the academic side of university operations and the student affairs side.”

While still holding his position as provost, and his responsibilities on the academic side of things, vice president of student affairs adds another set of responsibilities to Hannan’s administration.

“Primarily, what this does is adds a whole additional set of offices and programming to fall under me. What falls within student affairs, that I’ll now be overseeing, includes the area of campus life, residence life and housing, the diversity and inclusion office, and the office for students with disabilities. Athletics reports directly to the president, but that will be moving back within student affairs probably within a year or so,” Hannan said.

Continuing, Hannan added, “The key is that it’s not just me running both sides, there are other people that report to me, so I really rely on them a lot to be managing and leading subdivisions within academics and student affairs and to report up to me
and for me to get involved as they need me to, to make things happen.”

Although describing his new position as “quite a bit different,” Hannan already has short term and long-term goals he hopes to accomplish.

“We have a number of vacancies of leadership roles in student affairs, so my short term goal is to find some leaders there that are going to have some great experience and have a really strong commitment to having a really positive student experience,” Hannan said.

“Longer term I do want to work on integrating activities on both academic and student affairs so that there’s a clear understanding about what it is we want all students to experience and learn, and we’re addressing that from multiple, different angles.”

One of the positions needing filled at Edinboro University is the director of residence life and housing, which is currently being managed by Cynthia Waldinger, who is serving as the interim director.

Waldinger is also the interim director for the office of student judicial affairs and is assistant to the interim dean of students and campus life. She has held her multi-faceted title since July of this year.

Waldinger is not new to Edinboro. Prior to July, she has been at the university for 20 years.

For more than a decade, she served as the secretary in the biology and health services department before moving to student affairs in 2010 to work as assistant to the vice president, where she has been ever since.

Although the job title has changed through the years — from assistant to the vice president, to assistant to the interim dean of students and campus life — the work has seen no difference.

“I work closely with my supervisor to ensure students and colleagues are met where they are on a wide array of topics,” Waldinger said of her permanent position in campus life.

About her interim position, Waldinger said: “I manage all of the residential facilities on campus with the help of some amazing staff members. This includes day to day life, occupancy, budgets, etc. I also supervise all aspects of student conduct.”

In addition to people taking over new positions or interim positions at the university, Edinboro is looking to fill multiple spots, including director of the office for students with disabilities, dean of students, director of university marketing, and director of residence life.

Edinboro University President H. Fred Walker stated last week that $1.3 million in university positions would be left open in order to help the university save money.

Hannan explained: “When positions are created, a number of those positions are assumed to start at the beginning of the fiscal year, which would have been July 1. The new dean of students position may not be filled until closer to the end of the semester, or maybe the start of the spring semester, so effectively what we would have saved is a half a year’s worth of salary and benefit costs because they’ve been budgeted, but not already been filled.”

“Those are really high priority jobs that we definitely are working to fill and want to fill, but because they’re vacant right now, that is a budget savings,” Hannan said.

Hannan said he has picked people for the hiring committees who are in each of the areas themselves, in addition to other university employees and students.

“The positions are open for anybody to apply who meets the requirements,” he said. “My expectation is that nearly all of the applicants will be external. I know there have been a nice sized pool of applicants for each position, [and] I’m hoping we have a lot of candidates to choose from.”

He also mentioned that he knows of one internal applicant for one of the positions.

He continued: “I’m looking for, in the three that report to me (dean of students, director of residence life, and director of the office for students with disabilities), individuals who have some evidence of good experience in those fields where it demonstrates that they have a very student-centered approach to solving problems and to building programming for students.”

For the dean of students position, Hannan said, “I’m looking for somebody who has some experience across those multiple areas in student affairs that they would be overseeing, but also someone who is extremely student-focused and who really wants to contribute to a really vibrant student-centered climate here on campus.”

“It’s also somebody I really want to [be able to] help change the entire climate of the campus and to really have a more exciting campus with a lot of activities for students,” he said. “The sooner we can do that, the better.”

According to the university website, the university will begin reviewing applications for the director of the office for students with disabilities position on Sept. 18. According to the job posting, “The director [of the office for students with disabilities] will manage daily departmental operations so that students with disabilities are fully integrated into the curricular and co- curricular life of the university.”

The university will also begin reviewing applications for the dean of students position on Sept. 18. Applicants should expect to maintain “regular and frequent contact with students, faculty and staff, and continuously re-examine the priorities and effectiveness of programs and services,” according to the job posting.

The application pool closed for the director of university marketing position on July 31, and the university is currently in the process of reviewing applications.

According to the job posting, “This position is responsible for creating, executing, and working with various vendors to implement a comprehensive strategic marketing program, to publicly provide information, new initiatives and strategies that will be innovative to improve brand awareness and brand strength that will drive recruitment and enrollment; serve as liaison between the vice president for enrollment management and various internal/external groups; design and supervise the production of all university publications, print and digital.”

Macala Leigey, Dakota Palmer and Hannah McDonald can be reached at 

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