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Chancellor announces realignment of key student support organizations into Division of Student Life

Blanche Staton will serve as interim graduate dean.
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Providing seamless, integrated wellness and support services for students is the impetus for realigning three key support organizations into the Division of Student Life (DSL), according to an email from Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart ’88 to the Office of Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE), Office of Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE), and DSL today. The announcement as well as the effective date of the changes, July 1, coincides with the beginning of Suzy Nelson’s leadership of DSL as vice president and dean for student life.

“Our network of support is strong but I believe it can be stronger,” Barnhart wrote in her email to staff. “We must make it easier for students to access support resources; we must strengthen the connections between residential life and student support; and we must proactively reach the students we know are more likely to need our help.”

Student Support Services (S3), Violence Prevention and Response (VPR), Student Disabilities Services (SDS), and Community Development and Substance Abuse (CDSA) will be combined into a new department serving students under the direction of David Randall. Randall has been named senior associate dean for student support and wellbeing.

VPR, which will remain a confidential student resource, will continue to be led by Kate McCarthy; SDS and CDSA will also continue to be directed by Kathleen Monagle and Don Camelio, respectively. Randall has named James Collins and Gerardo Garcia-Rios, currently assistant deans in S3, as interim co-directors of that office.

“The chancellor has made it clear that there is no higher priority for DSL than student wellness and support,” said Nelson. “I am very excited that S3, VPR, and SDS will be part of DSL. These offices are led by and made up of talented, dedicated professionals, who have been strong partners with the student life team for many years. This realignment will allow for new ideas, relationships, and connections to emerge within DSL and between DUE, ODGE, MIT Medical, and Mental Health and Counseling Service so we can serve all MIT students better.”

Additionally, the Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups (FSILGs) managed by Brad Badgley will join the groups reporting to Judy Robinson, who has been named senior associate dean for residential education. Those groups are: Residential Life Programs under Julie Rothhaar-Sanders, the Office of Student Citizenship under Kevin Kraft, and Conflict Management@MIT under Libby Mahaffy.

Both Randall and Robinson will report to Nelson in DSL. The realignment will be complete by the time MIT students return to campus in August.

Barnhart also updated her staff about the leadership transition taking place at ODGE following Dean Christine Ortiz’s announcement in January that she will be taking a leave from the Institute.

“[Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education] Blanche Staton has graciously agreed to act as Interim Dean starting on July 1 while we continue the important work of defining ODGE’s vision for the future, and identifying the organization and leadership that will be necessary to achieve that vision,” wrote Barnhart. “I am grateful to Blanche for taking on these expanded duties.”

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