By MARIA KANSO, News Editor
Ray Metz, the Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Life at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, is considering the appointment of a Dean of Students to take responsibility of Student Life on campus.
The decision of whether or not a a dean will be hired will be finalized in the beginning of January.
“Having a senior leader think about Student Life and life outside the classroom for students on this campus could actually make the campus a different place in five to 10 years,” Metz said.
The Dean of Students would become a new administrative position separate from Enrollment Management. Student Life and Enrollment Management are currently merged and handled by Vice Chancellor Metz.
Some of the responsibilities of the Vice Chancellor of EMSL include student support services, career services, health services, housing referrals and co-curricular programs for student activities, recreation and athletics.
The President of Student Government, Fiana Arbab, is concerned that hiring a Dean of Students would cause an “administrative bloat.”
Metz was Chief of Staff from 2001 until he was appointed Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Life on March 1, 2016.
The position of Chief of Staff is currently not filled, which Arbab pointed as an example of a redundancy of roles that might occur if a Dean of Students was appointed.
Metz claimed during a forum discussion in December that his “number one goal” is to increase the number of student enrollment.
“Why are you hiring a Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Life if you were only ever going to push him to focus on Enrollment Management?” said Arbab. “Why don’t you just hire him for enrollment management and hire someone else for student for Student Life? Split the salary, split the job.”
Arbab believes that the Dean of Students could become a “red wall” that students have to go through if they want to reach people in higher administrative positions, such as the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor.
“You can’t really make a change if you’re constantly having to push yourself through the red line,” Arbab said.
There is currently no job description posted for the Dean of Students, but Metz said that the person appointed would have a proven experience in student development and a degree to be qualified for the position.
A search committee made up of students, staff and faculty will be created for choosing the new Dean.
“I originally thought that we would have this posted by the end of the semester,” Metz said during the forum, “but the conversations I’ve had both within Enrollment Management and Student Life with directors, and staff and the Student Government put on a pause.”
Students and organization members on campus expressed their concerns about the appointment of a new dean during a forum discussion with the Vice Chancellor on Dec. 7.
Some of the concerns included questions about the dean’s job description, the students’ role in choosing the qualified person in the Search Committee and from where the money to pay this person will come from.
“I like that our vice chancellor is trying to look at the long run for student life,” said Karsten Szajner, a senator in Student Government. “However, our student life is non-existent to the majority of students as seen in our low student life ratings. It would be better to invest in things that students can do on campus, which is something we can do without the Dean of Students.”
The Greek Life president of Delta Phi Eplison-Alpha Mu chapter at UM-Dearborn, Rachelle Ibrahim, said that she is mainly concerned with the ambiguity surrounding the title of the new position.
“We’re left to assume that the role will require a budget but we’re still at a loss as to how exhausting an already stretched budget even further is an effective use of student fees,” Ibrahim said.
The Vice Chancellor assured that the appointment of the new dean will not affect the Student Activities Fee, and that there will be no additional budget required.
“I really don’t think our student activities fee should pay for our professional development,” Metz said during the forum. “I think that should come out of the regular budget.”
Metz also assured that there will be no additional budget required to hire the Dean of Students.
“I’d want someone that the students are excited about, so if students were not excited about the candidate, then I wouldn’t want to hire them because there needs to be a great relationship between the students and the Dean of Students,” he said.
Hiring a Dean of Students would enhance student satisfaction with Student Life and help solve the issues that rise with the increase in student enrollment, according to Metz.
“This campus doesn’t look that different in many of the surveys that are taken. There are two ways that we look different, and one of them is student satisfaction with Student Life,” Metz said. “In this position, I want to set the bar high so that we can actually make the progress.”
If a decision of not hiring a Dean of Students was made, the Vice Chancellor plans on working with students in order create a “long-term plan” of where investment in Student Life should be and decide on primary steps that need to be done in that category.