Student Academic Support Services plans broad restructure of department

Student Academic Support Services will undergo a broad restructuring over the next few months, as part of a push by the University to expand diversity, a top administrator said Friday.

Dean of Students Peter Konwerski said the restructuring process began shortly after he entered his position last May. He said the merger of SASS with the provost’s office, and the naming of Steven Lerman as provost, provided a chance to rethink the mission of serving students.

“There has to be the opportunity and the ability in an organization to constantly look at [the changing needs of students],” Danielle Lico, special assistant to the senior associate vice president, said. “I think now is the opportune time.”

Konwerski declined to give details of the structuring, instead saying it is a work-in-progess and will include staff and student opinion.

One of SASS’ priorities during the restructuring is finding “the right mix and structure for diversity on campus,” Konwerski said.

The LGBT Resource Center is an example of an area in which the University is trying to build a broader affinity for diversity. Though the center has been without a director for more than two months, he said an interim director would be hired in the next few weeks to fill an immediate need while SASS analyzes its distribution of resources for the campus as a whole.

SASS’ budget remains static, Konwerski said, limiting the department from making all of the changes it wants to.

“I think one of the things that we’re always struggling with is, to do more, we have to do less of something,” he said.

Konwerski did not say which programs specifically would be cut, but he said the restructuring would require a more efficient use of resources, both in terms of money and staff.

“One of the biggest budget items we have is the people. So if we think about, ‘How do you deploy people differently?’ Or, ‘How do you get people working together differently?’ ” Konwerski said, indicating a desire for various programs within SASS to work more collaboratively together.

The organizational realignment will occur in pieces that will roll out over the next few months, he said. To achieve its goal of expanding diversity, Konwerski said SASS needs to start a conversation with students, faculty, alumni and other stakeholders about their priorities.

Andrea Vittorio contributed to this report.

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