From staff reports
Administrative restructuring plans announced today are aimed at enhancing the services Ohio University provides its students and creating greater operational efficiencies.
Here’s a recap of the changes, which take effect immediately within Ohio University’s divisions of Student Affairs and Finance and Administration:
• The Housing Office and Department of Residence Life and Off-Campus Living will merge into one operation, titled Residential Housing, within the Division of Student Affairs. Housing previously was part of Auxiliary Services within Finance and Administration, while Residence Life is in Student Affairs. Christine Sheets, assistant vice president for auxiliary services, has been tapped to lead the consolidated unit as executive director of residential housing.
• Conference Services, previously part of Auxiliary Services, will join with Baker University Center and University Events under Student Affairs. Sujit Chemburkar, executive director of Baker University Center and University Events, leads this area.
• Other Auxiliary Services functions -- Dining Services, Ohio University Airport operations, and Printing and Graphic Services -- will remain in Finance and Administration and report to Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration Terry Conry.
The merger of Housing and Residence Life will provide a one-stop shop for students’ on-campus housing needs, Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith said. The Housing Office administers housing policies and regulations and determines students’ housing assignments; Residence Life is responsible for residence hall staffing and programming that encourages learning and development outside the classroom.
“Most universities across the nation use this model -- and with good reason,” Smith said. “It provides the best approach for meeting students’ housing needs, from room assignments to roommate issues to programming that enhances their academic endeavors.”
Nine of 11 schools in the Mid-American Conference and seven of the university’s 10 aspirational peer institutions follow the same general model as the one Ohio University announced today.
“The merger allows us to focus our energies and our resources as wisely as possible and in ways that are the most meaningful and valuable for students,” Smith said. “Housing and Residence Life already work very closely and cooperatively, and in melding the two functions, we can better serve students’ needs and reduce any confusion they may have about which area to turn to for what type of service.”
Smith said he feels fortunate to have Sheets on board to head Residential Housing. “She brings exceptional experience and a commitment to service that will help us identify opportunities for making this a smooth and successful venture,” he said.
Sheets has been with Ohio University for 23 years, including almost four years in her current role. She also has served as director of housing and director of conferences.
“It just makes sense,” Sheets said of combining Housing and Residence Life. “It creates a common platform for communication and will enhance our training and planning efforts. I look forward to the synergies and collaborations that these areas will provide in service to our students.”
Combined, the two areas have 25 contract staff members, 10 full-time and one part-time classified staff members, 19 graduate student staffers, 240 student resident assistants or administrative resident assistants, 18 student security aides and 18 student community assistants.
Meanwhile, the move of Conference Services to Student Affairs will allow for greater coordination with Baker University Center -- the hub of conference activities -- as well as the Office of University Events, Smith said.
“This is a natural fit,” Smith said. “We’re creating a structure that lets the teams work together more effectively, giving us more opportunities to grow business together.”
Chemburkar, who joined the university in October, coordinated conferences as part of his responsibilities at Truman State and Central Missouri State universities.
“We are excited to be growing together and enhancing our ability to provide conference and event services for all of our constituents and colleagues,” he said of the three areas under his leadership. “With our combined experiences, we hope to help market Ohio University, Athens and Southeastern Ohio as a great event destination.”
Smith said Sheets and Chemburkar will work with their teams to develop specific recommendations for the consolidations. Those will help determine the extent of the efficiencies possible in combining Housing and Residence Life as well as how the move of Conference Services can enhance revenue opportunities.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur said the changes are part of an ongoing effort within his division and across the university to streamline processes and improve support services to students, faculty and staff.
“Within Finance and Administration, we are engaging every department in our area to consolidate work wherever duplication exists,” he said. “We expect to improve services and create efficiencies that, in turn, can provide more resources to support the academic mission of the university. Once these particular changes are in place, we’ll be able to better determine the ultimate gains we can realize from them.”