The Division of Student Affairs at Pomona College will be restructuring a number of offices starting July 1, combining the Office of Campus Life (OCL) and the Smith Campus Center (SCC). The units will be combined under a unified area of Campus Life, which will oversee both the residence halls and campus center.
A conversation about organizational changes in OCL, Student Affairs and Residence Life was brought up in the summer of 2014 by Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum during a day retreat for some members of the Student Affairs staff, according to Associate Dean of Students Christopher Waugh.
Feldblum said that the goal is to have offices integrate their goals and work so that different services overlap and can better achieve their objectives. She said that the restructuring will allow for more inter-office collaboration and discussion on students’ academic, social and health needs.
“I think it’s part some restructuring, part some intentional conversations across different offices, and part maybe making what we do more visible and more accessible to students and their needs,” Feldblum said. “I don’t think it’s just symbolic. I think it is practical … being able to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Feldblum explained that the goal was to consider Student Affairs offices more as ‘clusters’ than as ‘vertical organizational structures.’ The formation of clusters will emphasize collaboration between offices and deans.
Adopting the concept of clusters came after wanting a better way to structure OCL and to have a more effective and responsive method of meeting students’ needs. Other colleges have been successful in adopting a ‘clusters’ type of organization, according to Feldblum.
Feldblum said that this restructuring will put a focus on integrating academic success and student achievement in a way that was not “emphasized 10 years ago or even five years ago.”
Several position changes will occur as a part of this restructuring. Waugh, currently the Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC, will oversee the new Campus Life office, and Associate Director of the SCC Ellie Ash Balá will take on the Director role. Waugh said that he will maintain some of his current responsibilities such as overseeing KSPC but will take on new responsibilities in the campus life office.
Waugh explained that in many other colleges, what is called the Office of Campus Life plays the role of what SCC plays at Pomona. Furthermore, residence life faces an overwhelming amount of work in August when new students come in while SCC remains less busy. Therefore, combining Residence Life and SCC would balance out the amount of work in the first month of the school year.
Townes, the current Dean of Campus Life will leave his position to work more closely with the mentorship programs at Pomona, including the Posse Foundation and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, reflecting Pomona’s effort to bring more attention to mentoring groups and cohorts.
“The way colleges have approached the mentor programs, I would say, is uneven,” Townes said. “There are some groups that get a little support, and we want to strengthen those groups. We are looking for ways in which we can support mentor programs more consistently in a more even way.”
Next year, there will be a Posse from both Miami and Chicago, a Quest Bridge program and the High Achievement Program, which supports underrepresented minorities in STEM. Townes believes that more attention should be paid to how these programs can work together and how they could be supported by the college.
“We need to find a better way to support the mentor programs, so I feel honored,” Townes said. “I think its a great challenge, and it is important to meet the challenge.”
Townes said that he has been already planning ways to enact changes within mentorship programs, meeting with head mentors of the various mentor programs and “focusing on creating synergies between different mentor programs.”
Within the Dean of Students office, Jan Collins-Eaglin, current Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Learning, will become the Dean of Personal Success and Wellness. Daren Mooko, also in the office, had already moved from being an associate dean to a full-time Title IX Coordinator in January.
A search committee is being organized to find a replacement associate dean, a position that has since been reconfigured as an Associate Dean of Students for Academic Success and Assessment. According to Feldblum, the new position will hold “some of the same responsibilities as the old one but also some new ones.” The search committee, made up of three students, two faculty and three staff, is searching for and will vote on the replacement for Mooko.
Feldblum mentioned that she has not formally announced the changes yet because the restructuring is not ready to be deployed at this stage.
“I’m committed to giving the staff time to really think about it,” Feldblum said.
This article was updated April 20 and 27 to clarify details about the OCL’s restructuring.