UAA searches for new director of Student Life and Leadership

Sarah Garner recently announced her resignation as Director of Student Life and Leadership. Kim Morton, the associate director for the department, will serve as interim director until a new candidate has been determined.

Sarah Garner started her first day as director Aug. 28, 2017. Photo by Jay Guzman.
Sarah Garner started her first day as director Aug. 28, 2017. Photo by Jay Guzman.

Garner was named director last year and assumed office on Aug. 28, 2017. The reasons for her resignation were personal, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Bruce Schultz explained.

“We understand that life circumstances do get in the way and I support Ms. Garner for her decision. I think she was an outstanding director, and we’re going to miss her,” Schultz said.

He lists her “tremendous care and concern for students” and her “high expectations” for the staff of the department as some of her greatest strengths.

The search for a new candidate is already underway. Assessments and Strategic Projects Director Whitney Brown serves as chair on the search committee for the position.

“We are inviting two candidates to participate in on-campus interviews next week and hope to have this search completed by mid-December,” Brown said in an email.

The committee identified Sean Griffin and Morton as finalists for the position. Griffin is new to the UA system; Morton joined UAA in summer 2017. She previously served as associate director of the Student Involvement Center at Saint Louis University in Kentucky. Her resume include 17 years of work experience in student affairs.

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In addition to the interviews with the search committee, the two candidates will meet with different groups of staff and students.

“All of that information will be put together and forwarded to the search committee. They’ll review that information… and then ultimately, it’s my decision,” Schultz said.

Responsibilities of the director include the programming of student events, the management of student fees as well as the support of the student government and club council.

“The Office of Student Life and Leadership helps connect students to campus outside of the classroom,” Tim Flynn, Student Union operations coordinator, said. “We hope that students that come through our office have a better overall UAA experience.”

Schultz highlights the importance of experiences outside of the classroom for students.

“We know that students who are engaged on campus and have a sense of belonging are more successful academically,” Schultz said. “I’m looking for a director who understands how important that is and has experience in making those things happen at our university.”

Open forums, including brief presentations and time for questions and answers with the candidates, will take place this week. In addition, a group of students identified by USUAA President Geser Bat-Erdene will interview the two finalists.

Schultz encourages students to attend the open forums and use their opportunity to give input.

“Students’ input and what they think is best for the position is really important to me,” Schultz said. “The more students [come], the better.”

The open forum for Morton will be at 11 a.m. on Dec. 6. The open forum for Griffin is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 11. Both forums will be in the Student Union; resumes of the candidates will be available.