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An evolution of student services

Students are well served by recent changes in the administrative structure at Memorial, according to Dr. Rob Shea. He inhabits the new role of deputy provost (students) and associate vice-president (academic) undergraduate studies, a department that is streamlined for student success.

"This new structure provides a continuum for students, from their first contact with Memorial to the day they cross the stage at convocation," said Dr. Shea. "The result will be improved student support and enhanced student engagement."

The new portfolio includes all of the departments of Student Affairs and Services, including Student Health; Student Housing and Food Services; Career Development, Experiential and Service Learning; Counselling; Blundon Centre; International Student Advising; Student Success Programs; Scholarships and Awards; and the Aboriginal Resource Office.

Now included in this portfolio are the Registrar's Office, Student Recruitment, Co-operative Education and the International Centre.

Dr. Shea called this change "an evolution."

"These units have always been working towards the success of our students, and that will continue," he said. "The concept of student and academic success is the key. Students learn both inside and outside the classroom, and success takes place both inside and outside the classroom. This new model will allow us to look at student engagement and student success as all-encompassing."

Student leaders are supporting the changes. Michael Walsh, director of external affairs, communications and research with Memorial's students' union (MUNSU), said while some aspects of the change are a concern, they remain optimistic.

"We hope the new structure will make the university easier to navigate for students, and the streamlining of services will enable the best possible use of resources," said Mr. Walsh. "Though the university is divided into departments and divisions, a student's life is not. Bringing the academic and non-academic supports under one roof is a change which could have serious benefits for students."

Dr. Shea is serving in the new role pro tempore while a national search is undertaken.

The change is part of a larger transformation in the structure of the university aimed at making administrative structures more responsive to increases in the numbers of programs, faculty and staff, and the further evolution of this multi-campus institution.

At the September Board of Regents meeting, Memorial's vice-president (academic) was retitled provost and vice-president (academic). The role, common within many large North American universities, has pan-university responsibilities for institutional operations and acknowledges that the vice-president (academic) is also the pro vice-chancellor and a member of the Board of Regents. Dr. David Wardlaw, who holds the role, also chairs the Vice-Presidents' Council (VPC), a decision-making body designed to address operational matters of institution-wide import.

In addition, in October the board repurposed an existing associate vice-president (academic) (AVPA) position to become an AVPA (faculty affairs). A search is underway to fill this position.

The second AVPA position was retitled and repurposed to become an AVPA (planning, priorities and programs). Dr. Doreen Neville serves in that post.

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