Search for VP Student Affairs in full swing

Caitlin Center

Peter Gitau (pictured) was the first of four finalists to visit campus. Each are working toward the VP Student Affairs position.

Caitlin Centner, Arts & Life editor
January 17, 2013
Filed under Kentucky News, News

Peter Gitau, associate vice chancellor and dean of students at Southern Illinois University, kicked off the vice president for student affairs search campus visits on Jan. 16. Gitau spoke in the Otto M. Budig Theater to address questions from faculty, staff and students regarding his candidacy.

“My goal is to hear from you and give you an opportunity to hear from me,” Gitau said to start the open campus discussion.

Attendees asked questions regarding the Dream Act, student advancement, building diversity, student success, academic success, online students, first year experiences for students, international offices and challenges Gitau has had throughout his career.

Part of Gitau’s vision is to “make a commitment to prepare students for the world of work that is not white or black or hispanic.” He said he would like to work on skill building for instructors, faculty and staff to engage in conversations about diversity.

“Diversity is not optional, it is something we have to deal with,” he said.

Gitau moved to the United States from Kenya in 1994 and feels that transition, along with transferring jos, has helped him to establish relationships and learn to build new ones.

“I wouldn’t stand here in front of you today and say the only group of people I’m comfortable serving are those who look like me,” Gitau said.

He said he was drawn to the position at NKU because of its growth, its dynamic and new energy provided by having a president who believes in student success.

“That’s very attractive to a person who works in student affairs.”

If chosen for the VPSA position he plans to learn the needs of students by being present and interacting at events, student government meetings, advising groups and hearing as many voices as possible.

Campus visits will reconvene Jan. 22 with Lisa Rhine who currently holds the interim vice president for student affairs position. The visits will continue Jan. 23 with Brent Paterson, senior associate vice president for student affairs at Illinois State University and will conclude Jan. 24 with Terry Hogan, vice president for student affairs at the University of Northern Iowa.

Paterson first learned of Northern Kentucky University through one of his graduate students, Tracy Osborne, whose alma mater is NKU. Osborne shared stories of her positive experiences at NKU with Paterson.

“When I saw the job posting I thought it might be a good fit,” Paterson said.

He said he is looking for a place that is really dedicated to the students and where students get to know their faculty and staff.

“I think it’s a very exciting time at NKU, the university is continuing to grow,” Paterson said.

Along the same lines, Hogan said NKU is “clearly on the move.”

“It is clear that President Votruba led the university through a period of tremendous growth during his tenure and that President Mearns has a vision for guiding the university to the next level,” he said.

Hogan said he is anxious to meet students and learn what they are looking for from NKU in the future. He said that along with his experience he would bring an open mind and listening ears.

Gerard St. Amand, chair of the search and screening committee, said they would like to have the process complete by March 1. He encourages all students to attend the open student and campus sessions as well as fill out feedback forms.

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