The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Student Affairs undergoes restructuring

Marcela Berrios | Friday, April 13, 2007

The Division of Student Affairs began restructuring its chain of command Thursday with the announcement of the promotion of director of the Student Activities Office (SAO) and LaFortune Student Center, Brian Coughlin, to the recently created position of assistant vice president of Student Activities.

Coughlin’s promotion marked the beginning of a reorganization that will redistribute the different departments under the Division’s umbrella to different supervisors, including Coughlin.

“Brian is a gifted, experienced and astute administrator who has led the Student Activities Office through a period of substantial growth over the last six years,” Father Mark Poorman, vice president of Student Affairs, said in a press release.

Coughlin will continue to head his office’s activities, but in his new role he will report directly to Poorman, “freeing up” the department by reducing bureaucratic red tape. The SAO had previously fallen under the jurisdiction of Division Assistant Vice President David Moss, who also supervised the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education (ODAE).

“These changes can be seen as an acknowledgement of the SAO’s expansion and growth in the last six years and the staff’s continued hard work and commitment,” Coughlin said. “I’m excited about the new organizational structure because it elevates the SAO to its own category.”

Coughlin will oversee the SAO, broken into two branches, Student Activities for Programming and Student Activities for Facilities. Peggy Hnatusko and Ryan Willerton, associate directors of Student Activities, were also promoted Thursday to head the Programming and the Facilities divisions, respectively.

“This model is consistent with other student activities structures at major universities across the country, and is the most effective way for us to provide students with the highest quality of programs and services,” Poorman said in an e-mail to all the employees in the Division of Student Affairs.

Coughlin will join the senior staff of the Division and assume his new duties July 1.

In his six years heading the SAO, Coughlin said the number of student organizations on campus grew from approximately 250 to 320 and four full-time employees joined the office during the period to assist with the workload.

The SAO’s budget has also grown exponentially in the last decade, Coughlin said. In the near future, he said he plans to continue the department’s expansion by finalizing plans to construct a building to replace the Stepan Center and increasing the SAO’s involvement with graduate students. These goals are a part of the office’s 10-year plan, Coughlin said.

Poorman also announced other changes in the Division’s structure, including the retirement of assistant vice president of Student Affairs, Sister Jean Lenz, to a part-time position.

“As part of our restructuring efforts, Sister Jean will assume part-time duties as special assistant to the vice president,” Poorman said. “She has been an integral part of student life at the University of Notre Dame for the last thirty-four years. She has served for the last twenty-three of those years as assistant vice president for Student Affairs. Her wisdom, experience, compassion and insight are unparalleled, and I am delighted that she will continue to serve as a member of the senior staff of Student Affairs.”

The departments under Lenz’s supervision, International Student Services and Activities and Multicultural Student Programs and Services, will be reassigned to Division Assistant Vice President Sister Sue Dunn.

Dunn will also take the Career Center under her wing.

Moss will keep supervising the ODAE but he will also start overseeing the other two departments in Saint Liam Hall, the University Counseling Center and Health Services.

Associate Vice President for Residence Life Bill Kirk will continue to work with Notre Dame Security/Police and the Office of Residence Life and Housing. The Gender Relations Center will also keep its present supervisor, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Ann Firth.

Poorman and Coughlin said they believed the new organizational structure would only facilitate communication in the Division and enable its staff to work more effectively.

“I regularly tell trustees, alumni, students and parents that the University of Notre Dame has one of the best Student Affairs operations in the country,” Poorman said. “I am proud of the level of excellence that we have achieved in our division, and of the wonderful service that we offer to our students. We are excited to implement these changes over the summer and hope that the new structure will allow us to provide even better opportunities for our students.”