During the past year and a half, I have carefully evaluated the future leadership needs for the Student Affairs arena of the College. In this interim without a Vice President overseeing this department, I’ve enjoyed having the Student Affairs team report directly to me, and this time has also helped me better understand the needs, challenges, demands, and opportunities of student affairs, and craft a structure which best supports our students.
The focus of the student affairs department is multi-fold, but the overarching mission is the retention of students – to enable them to grow, connect, and persevere through their college experience. Across the gamut of this area, everything must be building patterns that support retention – from residential life, to career development, to intramural sports, to student activities, to student discipline, to campus morale, to student leadership – everything should be helping students understand and use their gifts to see God’s calling in their life at Belhaven and beyond graduation.
Through the years, the point of difficulty in best fulfilling this mission has been the abrupt separation between student affairs and athletics, which makes some portions of our work redundant, and in other cases, leaves significant gaps. Nearly a third of our students are participating in intercollegiate athletics, and often the most complex issues of scheduling, programming, and other student affairs related issues cross over into the heart of athletics. On many campuses athletics comes under the banner of the same person responsible for student affairs.
For Belhaven, I believe it is important that the person responsible for student affairs reports directly to me. And I also see the merit of the NCAA model that requires athletics to report directly to the president. Additionally, because both of these areas require complex solutions to issues, it is helpful to have them represented in the Administrative Team discussion.
With these objectives in mind, I have been praying and thinking for an extended time about the right administrative model for our future at Belhaven. Effective immediately, I am pleased to appoint Scott Little, as our new Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics.
Scott served for many years as our Director of Student Leadership, and for the past three semesters, has done a remarkable job as our Athletic Director. As Vice President, Scott will use the crossover of both arenas to create new synergies, making us more effective as we provide the best environment possible for our students. Scott is a rock solid administrator, has proven judgment, and his background of experience in both student affairs and athletics makes him uniquely qualified to serve the campus in this new responsibility. He will continue to serve as Athletic Director, and will continue to work with me in providing leadership for chapel. He will report directly to me, and serve on the Administrative Team. Scott’s office will remain where it is in Fitzhugh Hall.
Ron Pirtle will continue in his recently appointed new role of Dean of Student Development, providing daily leadership for the Student Life department. We will be asking some of our coaches to accept some additional administrative responsibilities in athletics. We have such a wonderful staff in student affairs and strong coaches, so I’m expecting a rapid and smooth transition. Athletics has been under the responsibility of Kevin Russell, who has done a marvelous job providing supervisory leadership, but this change will free Kevin from that oversight, as we need more of his energy in fund raising, along with the leadership he provides in so many other areas of the college.
I trust you’ll join with me in welcoming Scott to this new challenge, and support him in prayer as he provides strategic leadership for our campus in the years ahead as Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics.