The University Record, September 8, 1992

New Student Affairs deans committed to serving students

By Jane R. Elgass

The appointment of three associate deans in the Office of Student Affairs will allow that unit to undertake a “thoughtful, deliberate shift” toward an organization that is committed to complementing, enhancing and promoting students’ lives outside the classroom.

Dean of Students Royster Harper says the three new appointees—Richard Carter, Frank Cianciolo and Delories Sloan—are enthusiastic about their work and committed to developing “a unit that is not based on crisis reactions but on a process that understands students and knows how to meet their needs.”

“We want to add value to students’ experiences here,” Harper says. “We are going to look at issues from the students’ point of view and create an office where students can walk in and get their needs met while being treated with dignity and respect. We want to empower students, give them access to information, resources, support people—things they need to make their experience here a successful one.”

Harper’s attitude, whatever the problem or issue may be: “Yes, it’s going to get done. We’ll find a way to do it. Then in a year, we’ll have a track record and know what’s really going on—what we need to do better, what we might have to refine. We’ll also be able to track trends and then adjust or change the system as required.

“We have the structure and personnel to make the changes, and we know we’ll have to deliver,” Harper explains. “We’ll show our commitment not through words, but by our actions. We’re a service organization. We want to be responsive to students—cut the red tape, remove obstacles, create solutions with them.”

Harper also intends to increase contacts with students, student leaders and various campus groups.

There will be one immediate change. Beginning today (Sept. 8) the Office of Student Affairs will be open until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays—staffed by Harper and other members of her team—to accommodate students who can’t easily get there during the day.

Meet the deans

Delories Sloan celebrated her first anniversary with the University Sept. 1. She says her appointment as associate dean for student affairs-counseling will strengthen the liaison work she already had begun with such units as Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC).

Counseling Services now is providing more support to SSD by making a testing coordinator available. And Sloan has talked with Reading and Learning Skills Center Director John W. Hagen, to find out how his unit might assist students.

She also has built a liaison team in Counseling to work with SAPAC personnel. “It’s not new, but we’re definitely committed to strengthening the relationship.”

Sloan says that combining the three areas—counseling, programs and activities, multiculturalism—under a dean of students will provide a more organized way of approaching issues relevant to students. “We can track trends and adjust our services accordingly. There won’t be a lot of administrative fragmentation.

“For me, being part of the dean’s office means meeting students’ needs from the top down. I can cut the red tape. Students won’t be shifted from one unit to another. We want to help them fulfill their academic responsibilities without worrying about the other parts of their lives.”

Sloan likens the changes in Student Affairs to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

“I see our office as making a difference in the lives of students. The excitement for me is that we are in the forefront of helping students.”

Frank Cianciolo, associate dean for student affairs-programming and actitivies, is enthusiastic about the opportunities his new post holds to bring together different segments of the University in a unique way and to more fully utilize the Michigan Union, Michigan League and North Campus Commons.

“Whether we are celebrating a University tradition or ethnic program or dealing with community or national issues, we have interesting people and resources that we can tap. We can reach out across the University and involve the academic side of the environment with films, lectures, outside speakers.”

Cianciolo says one of the primary goals of the new staffing structure is to “get us out of bureaucratic boxes. We’re not establishing territorial responsibilities. We understand and support each other’s programs, expectations and areas of responsibility.”

He notes that the decentralized nature of the U-M is both its greatest asset and liability. “I want to build on the strength of that as an asset. I think we can provide the conduit that will help students and student organizations negotiate this place. We want to inject a more human scale into the campus environment, and build a sense of community.

“We don’t want to build two worlds on campus—academic and non-academic. Rather our challenge is to blur those divisions so that we can deal with the whole student and the student’s learning experience.”

Like his colleagues, Cianciolo places a high priority on communicating with students. “I hope to work with students and staff in an atmosphere in which we speak our minds, in which we listen intently to others and their views. Communication is a two-way street. We want to build partnerships with various areas of the University and do things with them, not for or to them.”

Through programs and other activities, he also plans to work hard to make multiculturalism part of the fabric of the University. “We need to recognize and celebrate the unique and traditional norms while identifying areas of commonality. We can celebrate and build on the diversity without diminishing any one culture,” he says.

Cianciolo has been with the U-M since 1980 in a variety of administrative posts in the Michigan Union, most recently as director of university unions.

As associate dean for student affairs-multiculturalism, Richard Carter is treading new ground as he provides a contact point for a number of programs and activities.

Reporting to him will be the International Center, Minority Student Services, the Lesbian and Gay Males Programming Office, the peer group advisers program and Trotter House. He also is responsible for the Intergroup Relations and Conflict academic course.

“My number one hope is to bring coordination to our overall efforts with students. I also hope to build coalitions among various and varying interests and to support and enhance existing programs that may or may not be multicultural.”

Carter comes to Student Affairs after 17 years with the Alumni Association and says his experiences there will lend a perspective to the programming in which he will be involved.

“I hope to help provide and encourage a tolerant environment whose primary mission is education and support that educational arm. We must work to establish a multicultural environment that we can take pride in, one in which everyone participates.”

Carter notes that his colleagues in Student Affairs all “have separate portfolios but we all share in the mandate of being responsive to students, of helping them negotiate the system. We need to advance programs that support the educational objectives of the University and that help students as they mature into adults and move out into society.

“This is an exciting time [for Student Affairs]. We have a window of opportunity that we must use to our advantage. We are training those who will be leaders in the next century and have the resources to prepare them for the challenges they will face.”