Pitzer College held interviews with its three finalists for the position of Vice President for Student Affairs and allowed students to meet and talk with the candidates at town hall meetings.
Last week, candidates Susan Allen Ortega and Brian Carlisle each visited Pitzer’s campus for two days. Students and other members of the Pitzer community were invited to hour-long town hall meetings to ask the candidates questions. Ortega came on Monday, April 22, and Carlisle came on Thursday, April 25.
Sarah Kelly, the third finalist, came to Pitzer this week and held a town hall meeting on Tuesday. She most recently held the position of Vice President for Enrollment Management and Dean of Students at Wittenberg University.
Ortega is currently the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the University of California, Riverside, while Carlisle works at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as the Dean of Students and Acting Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
The candidate search began at the beginning of the spring semester after Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley announced in February that Jim Marchant, the current Vice President of Student Affairs, had accepted the position of Executive Director of Development and Special Projects for Pitzer’s Office of College Advancement.
“I had a sabbatical last fall, and when I came back in mid-January the president and I had a conversation, and we mutually agreed that it was time to make a transition,” Marchant said. “I think professionally it’s good for me to move into this area, and it’s good for the organization, student affairs, and the college to be able to have someone new come in with new ideas and a different perspective from different institutions.”
Marchant said he is looking forward to his future job, which will involve working with Pitzer alumni.
“I’m looking forward to interacting with alumni of the college—people who have had amazing experiences, are doing interesting things now beyond their lives at Pitzer—and getting to talk to them and what their interests are now,” Marchant said.
He also said, however, that he will miss interactions with students, which he believes to be a crucial part of the Vice President for Student Affairs job.
“Working with the different students and leaders and groups over the years has been a real joy. I’ll miss that,” Marchant said. “My own style is to be as visible and approachable as possible, especially for students; that’s what we’re here for. So I think it’s important to be student-centered, student-oriented.”
Marchant has worked at Pitzer for the past 18 years, 12 of those years as Vice President for Student Affairs, making him the longest-serving Dean and Vice President for Student Affairs.
In an e-mail to the Pitzer community sent in February, Trombley listed a number of Marchant’s achievements while at Pitzer, including chairing the 7C Student Deans Committee this year for the third time, helping to develop the Center for Asian Pacific American Students, and working with the Outdoor Adventure Program for incoming first-year students.
Recently, Marchant has been focused on the improvement of Pitzer’s facilities, namely the planning of the Phase III residence hall and the renovation of the Student Center. Marchant said that moving the housing plan forward will likely be a priority for the new Vice President for Student Affairs.
“We have more beds than ever before with the completion of two phases of residence halls, so that will be important, housing policies and the whole practice of how we assign rooms, off-campus applications, community living in general,” Marchant said.
The next step in the search process is for the search committee members to collectively suggest a final candidate to Trombley, who will make the final decision.