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SMC staff downsized over break

Kelly Meehan | Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Saint Mary’s Student Activities Office downsized over winter break after its director resigned and assistant director was terminated, College spokeswoman Melanie McDonald said Wednesday.

Director of Student Activities George Rosenbush retired for health reasons, McDonald said, and Assistant Director of Student Activities Frances Bruder’s position was eliminated as part of an ongoing “strategic restructuring plan” for Student Activities.

The plan calls for Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson to spend the rest of this year assessing the needs of the office, researching staffing levels at peer institutions and determining how Saint Mary’s can better meet the needs of its students, McDonald said.

Both Johnson and McDonald said the College plans to hire a new director of Student Activities, but has yet to set a definite date of replacement.

Rosenbush worked at Saint Mary’s for 23 years and announced her retirement in late December, a move that surprised Johnson.

“I spoke at great length with George, and tried to convince her to have a goodbye party,” she said, “but she preferred to say goodbye in her own way.”

Bruder’s position was eliminated on Jan. 2 – a decision that Johnson and Rosenbush had previously discussed, Johnson said.

The elimination was not a budgetary issue, Johnson said, but rather part of the reorganization of Student Activities.

Johnson dismissed rumors that Bruder’s position was eliminated to boost or redistribute College funding, and said she “is working to understand Board of Governance spending, not take away from it.”

An e-mail sent to The Observer by College alumna Becca Doll claimed that “the new [vice president of Student Affairs] wanted to divert $30,000 of the student activities budget to her own” – an idea that baffles Johnson.

“My job is to make sure the students get what they want,” she said. “Decisions were made not about money at all, but about providing good service.”

Until the new director of Student Affairs is named, Johnson said she would work closely with Assistant Director of Student Affairs Abby Van Vlerah, Administrative Assistant Tena Johnson and Executive Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs Sandy Zielinski to make sure “everything happens in the best way possible.”

Johnson said she meets weekly with Van Vlerah to make sure all planned events are carried out, and she looks forward to hearing “new and old ideas” from the student body.

McDonald said she also hopes to squelch circulating rumors regarding the restructuring plan and administrative decisions.

“It is just important that people understand there can be the tendency to believe rumors … when this is ordinary College business,” she said.

The Observer was unable to contact Rosenbush and Bruder Wednesday.