Average Concordia College students might wonder what’s on today’s Maize menu, how late the library stays open on Sunday or where they can travel for cheap over spring break.
Fewer students contemplate who hires professors, where their scholarship money comes from or how it was decided that Sociology 201 should be held in Old Main 332.
Administration is the answer. From the registrar to the dean of arts and sciences, our administrators are the keepers of the college. But this year, vacancies in important positions have left the folks in Lorentzsen Hall working to compensate. Some have been filled, and others remain open; in the 2011-2012 academic year, the college has seen changes in more than seven spots and is actively searching to fill three.
Another position that underwent a change this year includes the Director of Advancement, to which Larry Papenfuss – previously the Athletic Director – was appointed. Men’s basketball coach Rich Glas has filled Papenfuss’s position.
Rounding out the new hires includes Kristin Brethova, Concordia’s first Sustainability Coordinator, who began last month. Her duties will include ensuring progress in campus sustainability and working closely with the Student Environmental Alliance.
From the list of open positions, the one that affects students most is the registrar. Without a head registrar, the puzzle of finding rooms for classes and times to teach them would be unattended, leaving students in the lurch with questions about course registration. This is one reason why the registrar vacancy was immediately filled by an interim.
Students will notice the empty spot in student affairs less because it is a new position. Previously, the college has hired a dean of student affairs. The difference, said Mark Krejci, provost and dean of the college, is that a vice-president will serve directly on the president’s cabinet.
Do Students Matter?
Krejci said students can influence who is hired at the administrative level. The best way to participate is to have your voice heard by the Student Government Association.
“The way you impact your school,” he said, “is to go to these elected representatives.”
The SGA members are in regular contact with administrators and can bring the opinions or ideas of the student body to any hiring process. When the person hired will be working more directly with students, however, a student representative is appointed to the search committee.
Nathaniel Cook, former co-president of SEA, was asked by the committee chairperson to assist with the search for a sustainability coordinator. Cook has served on the Sustainability Task Force since his sophomore year and was active in making sure the student voice would be represented during the search.
“You don’t have to be in SGA to make any kind of impact,” Cook said. “In my experience, administrators are extremely open to student voices and suggestions. Not only open, but they expect that.”
Attending events where faculty and staff will be present and participating in Coffee with Cobbers are two more surefire ways to connect with administrators, said Krejci. Or, students can just ask to schedule a meeting.
“We are always willing to sit down and talk with student groups,” he said.
Krejci said that a change in presidential leadership correlates with a change in other administrative positions. One reason not every position was filled rapidly is that they kept “a hold on things, in case the President coming in wanted to change things,” he said.
When important posts are left open, Vice President of Finance Linda Brown said the scramble is only temporary, and does not affect students in a negative way.
“You have good people pick up the slack,” she said.
So while there are missing links in the chain of administration for now, they will be filled when the right person applies for the position. Both Brown and Krejci know that hiring someone who is a wrong fit can create more challenges than simply leaving the spot unfilled.
“Hiring and the development of the people we hire is one of the most important things administration does,” Krejci said. “It’s in order to have a strong Concordia.”
Steph Barnhart, 2013, is a multimedia journalism and public relations major at Concordia College. She has been a contributing writer, staff writer, and the news editor for The Concordian. Steph is an optimistic vegetarian who loves sustainability blogs, green tea, and talking. Follow her on Twitter at @stephbarnhart.