Search begins for new vice president of student life

Illustration by Amelia Madarang

On February 28th, Lewis & Clark announced their search for a New Vice President of Student Life (VPSL). The current VPSL, Robin Holmes-Suvillan, will become LC’s president on July 1.

The VPSL resides over numerous areas including campus safety, career services, athletics and health services. During her vice-presidency, Holmes-Sullivan built a sizable and well-qualified team to support the position.

LC is partnering with Keeling & Associates in order to start the search for the Vice President. Currently, Keeling & Associates is actively reaching out to dozens of professionals in the field in order to solicit potential candidate leads.

“Keeling & Associates was selected by the president and Dr. Holmes- Sullivan (and) was the search firm of choice because of their many years of experience in assisting other colleges in filling this type of position,” Vice President of Admissions and Financial Aid Eric Staab said via email. “Ultimately, their job is to not only advertise the position, but to actively recruit professionals who may not even be looking for a new job at this time.”

Unlike the Presidential Search committee, there are two student representatives on the Vice President for Student Life. Luca Sax ’22 and Sarah Lind-MacMillan ’22 are serving on the committee.

The VPSL search committee consists of Assistant Dean of Student Engagement and Executive Director of Career Center Rocky Campbell, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at LC Law School Libby Davis, Associate Dean and Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies Daena Goldsmith, LC trustee Patrick Nielson, Director of Campus Living Benjamin Meoz, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Educational Leadership Brenda Sifuentez, Program Director and Executive Assistant for Student Life Jessica Sweeney and Associate Vice President for Alumni, Parent, and Student Engagement Andrew McPheeters. Staab will serve as the chair for the committee.

“I think that together, Luca and I cover a lot of different areas of the student body and we’re able to kind of speak about our experiences and that of our peers pretty well, ” Lind-MacMillan said.

Sax echoed Lind-MacMillan’s statement that it was particularly significant for a search committee that advises the hiring of a position that is so student-centric to include students. Sax also hopes that in the future, the number of students will increase on hiring committees and hopes for more student voices to be represented.

“I hope future search committees will offer more opportunities for a larger part of the student body, beyond just the students serving on the committee, to communicate with the applicants,” Sax said via email.

According to Sax, the search committee has met a few times as a group in order to get to know each other and prepare to evaluate candidates for the position. Sax mentioned that they will hopefully begin reviewing candidates in the next week. “What I am looking for in the next VPSL is a willingness to actively and meaningfully engage with the student body,” Sax said. “It is important that the new VPSL recognizes the students’ needs, is committed to transparently address tensions that may arise from differences in what the students and the administration want, and that they create opportunities for students to actively contribute to the culture of this campus.”

The next VPSL will have the advantageous opportunity to work with the past VPSL, allowing them to collaborate and more effectively create a better school environment. Staab was asked to be on the VPSL committee by the current President Wim Wiewel.

“I will add, however, that these are big shoes to fill,” Staab said. “Dr. Holmes-Sullivan has, in my opinion, made significant achievements in her tenure in the position. The next VPSL will be expected to continue to advance many of those projects and identify other initiatives to continue to make L&C a stimulating environment for current and future students of the College.”

The committee is hoping to bring finalists to campus in late April or early May.

Additional reporting by Molly Mahoney

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