The University Record, November 13, 2000

Harper to be named vice president for student affairs

By Jane R. Elgass

President Lee C. Bollinger has recommended that E. Royster Harper be appointed vice president for student affairs. Harper has been interim vice president since June 1999. The recommendation will be acted upon by the Board of Regents at its Nov. 16 meeting. Harper will report directly to Bollinger, and will be a member of the University’s executive officer leadership team. Pending approval by the Regents, her appointment will be effective Nov. 20.

As vice president, Harper will provide vision, leadership and strong direction to the Division of Student Affairs (DSA) in supporting the academic mission of the University. Her office has and will continue to collaborate extensively with the Office of the Provost and the deans and faculty in the University’s 19 schools and colleges to promote an environment in which student learning can flourish and students can make maximal use of their educational opportunities.

“Throughout her tenure at Michigan,” Bollinger says, “Royster Harper has provided exceptional leadership to the Division of Student Affairs, most recently as interim vice president. The Division of Student Affairs is a pivotal campus unit that touches the lives of students and their families in many ways. After considering the outstanding pool of candidates who responded to the University’s national search, it became apparent that no one is more qualified to serve in this position than Royster. I am delighted that she has agreed to serve as vice president, and I look forward to having her as a member of the University’s administrative team.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the University in this role, and am excited about the challenges ahead,” Harper says. “I look forward to working with the president, Provost Nancy Cantor and the other executive officers, faculty, staff within and outside of the Division, and undergraduate and graduate students to help shape student life at Michigan. We want to create a seamless learning environment.”

Harper noted that one of her major priorities will be to continue the collaborative efforts with Academic Affairs to transcend any artificial boundaries between in-class and out-of-class activities. “We need to be increasingly intentional about improving policies, programs and practices that encourage students to use institutional resources and their out-of-class time in more educationally purposeful ways,” Harper says.

She pointed to current DSA involvement such as Intergroup Relations, Conflict and Community; service learning; the array of living-learning initiatives, including the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program; and various course offerings with academic units as models of curricular and co-curricular integration. “Much has been done but more can be achieved, and I am enthusiastic about the possibilities,” she says.

Harper says the role of the division is to encourage students’ total development and eliminate institutional barriers for all students so they may maximize their educational potential. “We have a phenomenal collection of units, services and programs executed by talented and committed division staff. It is a privilege to lead this team while encouraging us all to continually stay abreast of students’ needs.”

“Royster,” Bollinger noted, “is extraordinarily attuned to students’ needs and concerns, and is committed to assisting them in achieving their personal and academic goals. Students and colleagues respond to her integrity and commitment to open and honest communication.”

Harper also wants to strengthen and broaden the ways in which students’ voices can be heard and the ways in which they can contribute to the University. “Students have high hopes and great expectations for involvement in the total life of the University,” Harper says, “and I want to ensure they have a central role in helping the University forge the best possible educational environment we can offer.”

A 17-member committee worked on a national search that started in January 2000. In mid-September, Harper was identified as one of four finalists for the post.

Harper brings more than 20 years of U-M experience to her post. Prior to being named interim vice president in June 1999, Harper was associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students (1991–99) and then appointed senior associate vice president in January 1999.

Harper’s array of leadership within the academic services and student affairs arenas has provided her with a depth and breadth of understanding of the U-M community. Harper served as assistant to the vice president for academic affairs and assistant to the LS&A dean (1989–91), providing leadership for Universitywide academic support and retention programs. Prior to that, she was with the Opportunity Program, ultimately as its director (1978–83). That program subsequently merged with the Coalition for the Use of Learning Skills to form the Comprehensive Studies Program that Harper directed in 1984–89.

She has served on a wide range of University committees during her tenure, including the President’s Change Committee for the Michigan Mandate, President’s Advisory Commission on Women, M-Pathways Process Management Lead Team, the LS&A Curriculum Committee and the Undergraduate Education Commission. She also is an active community member, having served on the Ann Arbor Board of Education and the board of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.

Harper holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the U-M and is a Ph.D. pre-candidate in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. Her areas of research interest include student moral development and the intellectual development of African American women.

“As a result of my deep educational and professional life at the University of Michigan, I have a profound belief in the Michigan experience. I’m honored to play a role in that experience for future generations of students,” Harper says.