Administration changes to fulfill chancellor’s vision

UAA’s vice provost of academic affairs and its dean of students were both promoted to vice chancellor last week. The reorganization supports Chancellor Elaine Maimon’s Feb. 5 speech in which she shared her visions of a student-centered university and the university as a public square.

“The speech is the vision,” Maimon said. “Now we need to organize to fulfill the vision.”

Renee Carter-Chapman, vice provost of academic affairs, will take over the newly created position of vice chancellor for community partnerships March 1. Her new role will focus on developing community relationships to promote UAA as a public square in the community.

Linda Lazzell, current dean of students, has been named vice chancellor for student affairs. This position will take her current responsibilities for student affairs and add enrollment management, financial aid and academic excellence functions so all aspects of student life from initial recruitment through graduation fall within a single organization.

The reorganization was accomplished without any increase in staffing. The new positions will join three other existing vice chancellor positions and the provost in reporting directly to the chancellor.

“Initially, the average student won’t see a lot of change,” said Ted Kassier, UAA provost. “We’re already in the middle of a semester. There will be more transitions over the summer.”

Students may be more familiar with Lazzell’s student affairs functions. Her new responsibilities combine all aspects of student services.

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“My job is to make sure that our student services are student centered,” Lazzell said. “The student is at center of everything we do.”

Lazzell said her first approach will be talking to faculty, staff and students about both positive experiences and frustrations with the university. She’d like to hear solutions from different perspectives.

“Exciting things come from people who have solutions that others may not have thought of,” Lazzell said.

After about a month of gathering input from students, the faculty and her own staff, Lazzell plans to propose to the chancellor’s cabinet her initial plan for improvements.

“I’m really relying on student input,” Lazzell said. “I get involved with student government and the Club Council. I’m open to student input however they want to give it to me. Stop by and talk to me. Send me an e-mail. Ask me why doesn’t the university do this or that or send a new idea. Let me know of frustrations they might have had or things that went well at other universities.”

Carter-Chapman’s new role will focus on promoting UAA as a public square. Her duties involve listening to what people think and their views on how the university can be indispensable to the city of Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska. She will become a single point of contact for workforce development, continuing education and academic programs that are off site.

“I plan to do a rapid assessment of our current community partnerships,” Carter-Chapman said. “Often the community at large isn’t aware of the partnerships we have.”

Carter-Chapman said she plans to look at opportunities for partnerships that don’t currently exist. She said she plans to get out in the community more to look for those areas that need help. All the partnerships will benefit the university and the community, Carter-Chapman said.

“We are a tremendous resource to the community and can be part of the overall problem solving in the community and the state,” Carter-Chapman said. “We can’t avoid that responsibility. What comes in the involvement is a tremendous benefit to the university.”

Both vice chancellor roles will support the chancellor’s goal to make campus a welcoming place or a “second home.” She sees “students coming first” as a general guiding principle for the campus.

“Students learn when they feel welcome and acclimated to the university setting,” Maimon said.