After nearly a decade at The Claremont Colleges Services, Vice President for Student Affairs Denise Hayes will resign at the end of the semester to take a position at Indiana University, Chief Executive Officer of TCCS Stig Lanesskog announced March 19.
Hayes first began her work for TCCS as the director of Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services in July 2009. In 2011, she became the vice president for student affairs and began to oversee the Chicano/Latino/a Student Affairs, the Chaplains Office, Health Education Outreach, and the Office of Black Student Affairs.
“Denise’s decision to take a position at Indiana University is both a great opportunity for her to do a job she loves and also allows her to return to her home state of Indiana to be closer to her family,” Lanesskog wrote in a statement to TSL.
He highlighted many of the improvements Hayes has spearheaded during her time as vice president.
“Denise’s contributions include, but are not limited to, diversifying the identities, cultural backgrounds, and areas of expertise of our clinical staff at the counseling center,” he wrote. “She has always been passionate about her support for the students she serves.”
According to Lanesskog, Hayes was critical to diversifying and expanding the staff at Monsour and bringing a 24/7 on-call counseling resource to the 7Cs.
She also helped create the Student Disability Resource Center and add a Muslim imam to the Chaplains’ office, he added.
“I’ve enjoyed working collaboratively with faculty, staff, and administrators of The Claremont Colleges,” Hayes wrote in a statement to TSL. “I feel fortunate that I have served the colleges for nine years.”
In her new position, Hayes will continue her focus on issues regarding mental health and diversity at Indiana University, she wrote.
Hayes’ resignation comes during fresh scrutiny, after an anonymous email from a group calling themselves “5C Social Justice,” which wrote a fiery letter about Hayes to Lanesskog and other TCCS leadership.
The email alleged that Hayes has failed to address the needs of students with mental health struggles and discriminated against Jewish and Muslim student groups to further an agenda that supports her own Christian beliefs.
“We are horrified by the mediocre levels of service rendered to our students under the leadership of [Hayes],” the group wrote.
The individual or individuals controlling the email account did not respond to TSL’s requests for comment.
The group claimed to Lanesskog that it is made up of students, faculty — including tenured professors — and staff who are “concerned about the lack of quality student services across the 5Cs.”
The email claims Hayes “caused the previous rabbi to leave due to an anti-Semitic hostile environment,” and alleges that she has discriminated against the Muslim Student Association and Muslim staff members at the 5Cs, and attempted to convert a Muslim staff member to Christianity.
However, Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Daniel Shapiro wrote in an email to TSL that the antisemitism charges are baseless.
“[Hayes] has been professionally supportive of me as the Jewish Chaplain when I was under her direct supervision and subsequently when I became under the supervision of the new [assistant vice president],” Shapiro wrote in a statement to TSL.
In his statement to TSL, Lanesskog did not comment on the specific charges that the group levied.
“The letter I received from the anonymous 5C group makes some very serious accusations,” Lanesskog wrote. “I have found that these types of communications do not lead to an effective resolution for anyone.”
Instead, he invited the group to reach out to him to have a conversation in person. In its email, the group said that previous TCCS responses had been “dismissive and retaliatory.”
Hayes declined to comment on the letter, as it was addressed to Lanesskog.