Student activities, housing restructures leadership roles

Student Activities Center and the GW Housing Programs will see broad changes in their leadership structure this fall, as University administrators aim to provide more focused support for each class year of students.

After a year-long review, the Dean of Students Office will restructure into a four-part model called the Center for Student Engagement that will emphasize student class years in an effort to meet the changing needs of undergraduate and graduate students.

“We believe that this will not only allow us to meet those student needs developmentally across the student lifespan, but also to ensure that we can welcome and support class-based affinity,” Peter Konwerski, dean of students, said.

Konwerski said the reorganization process will not create any new positions and will instead assign new roles to existing staff members to minimize costs.

Staff in the Dean of Freshmen’s Office, the Guide to Personal Success program, the Student Activities Center, Mount Vernon Campus Life and Housing Programs will be realigned into four teams targeting freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as the graduate, distance and professional student experience.

Matt Trainum, director of the GPS program and freshman services, will assume the role of associate dean and will be responsible for the Center for Student Engagement.

“The staff team here at GW is top-notch. You won’t find this same level of talent at many other schools,” Trainum said. “Staff in the emerging model will have the opportunity to explore a new way of connecting to our students and of connecting our students to the larger GW community.”

Danielle Lico, associate dean of students, will become associate dean of administrative services. She will be tasked with overseeing hallmark programs, such as Colonial Inauguration, and coordinating the Dean of Students Office’s other campus-wide programming events.

Lico will also serve in an administrative role within the Dean of Students Office to help manage assessment, communications, financial management, housing assignments, technology systems and operations to ensure resources are allocated effectively.

“As the new organization continues to evolve, I expect additional areas for improvement will be identified and strategies put in place to make things function better and smoother,” she said. “It is an exciting time to be at GW and I look forward to being a part of what’s to come.”

In response to an increase in student organizations and student-led programming in recent years, the advising system for student organizations will undergo changes designed to keep up with their growth.

Student organization advisers will, for the most part, be assigned based on the four categories of students to better align staff and student needs.

Under the class-based model, however, student organization advising will not automatically be grouped according to class year, but will instead follow a hybrid model in which existing professional staff in other student life programs will be paired with student organizations of a similar focus.

“An overarching goal is to have more student contact between the professional staff and the students in support of their initiatives,” Konwerski said.

Greek life chapters will receive additional advising support, though the specifics have not been finalized, Konwerski said. He declined to provide examples of what the support would be.

The Student Activities Center as an independent entity will dissolve, becoming part of the student engagement center. Tim Miller, executive director of the SAC, will work with Lico on the development of hallmark programs and coordinating programming in the Dean of Students Office.

“Tim has had tremendous experience helping lead so many of the GW major student life events that are hallmarks of the GW student experience and as we envisioned an even more effective campus-wide approach to supporting events, he was the perfect person to take on this challenge,” Konwerski said.

Tim Miller said the University’s human resource department is not ready to release his title.

In developing the new leadership structure, Konwerski met with student leaders and other University administrators to discuss their goals and vision for the programs under the Dean of Students Office.

“We also looked directly at what our peer market basket and aspirational competitors are doing on their campuses to see how we compare to their efforts,” Konwerski said.

After his first full year as dean of students, Konwerski said he benefited from the ability to assess the office’s mission.

“Now, having looked at this over the course of the year, these are some changes that I think we can make that really will help us to take the next step and advance what we’re doing,” he said.

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