SASS shifts structure after key personnel leave

Less than a year after the reorganization of the University’s student services division, the departure of several administrators has meant further modifications to the division’s structure.

GW’s Student and Academic Support Services division oversees housing, student organizations and judicial services.

The personnel changes will mean shifting responsibilities for administrators within the division, said Robert Chernak, vice president for SASS.

SASS Administrative Services Executive Director Mike Peller’s departure this summer forced GW to restructure the administration that oversees the Smith Center, the Marvin Center and the residence halls, Chernak said.

Peller, who controlled the operations of all GW buildings, left GW to serve as director of the Baltimore Convention Center.

The oversight of building operations now will be split among other administrators.

“There is an interim transition of oversight responsibilities that were delegated to Peller,” Chernak said.

Chernak said SASS is still looking for a replacement whose responsibilities will be limited to the Smith Center. Peller handled Smith Center operations until his duties expanded under last year’s restructuring.

Mike Gargano, executive director of the Student Activities Center, will continue at his post but also will head Marvin Center operations.

Dean of Students Linda Donnels will take over residence halls operations.

Gargano said he believes each building will be partially operated by individual student staffs. Last year, the buildings were run by an integrated staff.

In addition, the retirement of David McElveen, associate director of campus life, and the departure of Assistant Vice President for SASS LeNorman Strong, who left for Cornell University, left a void in SASS that forced additional restructuring, Chernak said.

Chernak said the departure of several key staff members could not have been foreseen a year ago when the first restructuring took place.

Chernak said despite the changes, he is happy with the way his department has operated since the massive restructuring last August, which saw the removal of several staff members and a change in responsibilities for almost all members of the division.

“We’re going to continue to see an evaluation of a new organization,” Chernak said.

He said the idea of “one-stop shopping” that was developed last year as part of a plan created by students, faculty and administrators has been extended to focus on technology and communication. The concept is designed to make it easier for students to gain services and information.

Chernak said he felt the current supervisors have been using technology and communication to help students get more from SASS. For example, student Internet and telephone services now are headed by SASS’s communications unit, under the supervision of Deborah Snelgrove.

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