Piedmont initiates fresh administrative focus

BY JESSE SUTTON, NEWS EDITOR

The new year brings big changes to Piedmont Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.

According to Vice President for Academic Affairs, Perry Rettig, administration recognized that Piedmont’s current model and philosophy of separating Student Affairs and Academic Affairs was dated. Rettig said the current goal is to integrate these two departments and upgrade to a more contemporary model, which requires changes in both academics and student life.

“It’s not these isolated groups. It’s all of us together,” Rettig said. “This is a part of the student’s experience, and they’re not isolated experiences.”

Academically, Rettig said administration is looking to further examine student’s essential learning outcomes. Faculty and staff are currently developing those outcomes.

“We’ve been looking at national models and what other campuses have done and see how they have integrated their student outcomes with Student Affairs,” Rettig said. “[Students will] have the content knowledge in every area [Piedmont has]. And, right now, the faculty are fleshing out what those [essential learning outcomes] will be… They are the kind of skills that any student who graduates from a liberal arts institution should have.”

Additionally, the faculty will examine how Student Affairs affects development of these essential learning outcomes, Rettig explained.

Students, faculty and staff will make these changes together with the focus on student engagement.

“As students are involved in being engaged both with the Academic Affairs and the Student Affairs, I think [students will] see the programs we have on campus being very purposeful with the purpose of being integrated and providing the support that students are looking for,” Rettig said. “We are going to be very purposeful in involving [students], not only just asking them to be involved but to bring them into some of the decision making and envisioning.”

In order to usher in this focus, administration began the integration process by replacing and restructuring certain positions.

For example, Drew Davis resigned as Dean of Students last semester after working for Piedmont for 16 years.

He did no respond to multiple attempts for comment.

With Davis vacating the Dean of Students position, Emily Pettit filled the newly created Dean of Student Engagement position in addition to holding the Director of Career and Personal Counseling at Piedmont.

Pettit explained the Dean of Student Engagement position is the Senior Student Affairs Administrator at Piedmont College. She oversees all aspects Student Affairs, including Residence Life, Student Activities and Campus Events and Intramurals.

“The restructure and title change align with Student Affairs models across the nation,” Pettit wrote via email on Jan. 17. “Not only are the responsibilities of the Dean [of Students] different, the title change represents a shift in philosophy as well. The Dean of Student Engagement is meant to do just that: engage students. It represents a partnership [or shared responsibility] between all students [both residential and commuter] and Student Affairs.”

Rettig said Pettit was chosen for the position because her training and experiences aligned with Piedmont’s new, contemporary vision.

“The restructure streamlines philosophy, vision and decision making, with regard to the student experience outside the classroom,” Pettit wrote. “This allows [for] a more unified, seamless approach in providing purposeful educational experiences for our residential and commuter students.”

However, in order to further the restructure, Student Affairs will hire another person to help in counseling and career services.

Additionally, Student Affairs is seeking a professional residence life director.

“We’ll continue with the residence life [program that involves] the RDs,” Rettig said. “We will augment that structure with someone who is professionally trained.”