Student Affairs VP search on hold

With the exit of Zebulun Davenport as vice president for student affairs in July, an interim position has been filled. But the search for a permanent replacement is still up in the air.

Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba, who is retiring after this academic year, said the reason for the delay is because he wants to leave the decision of a new vice president for student affairs to his successor. “Putting together your executive team is something a new president would like to do if they can,” he said.

In July, Lisa Rhine, previously assistant vice president for student affairs, stepped into the interim position of vice president for student affairs. While most interim positions last about six to nine months, Rhine’s could last anywhere between 18 and 24 months, depending on the process the next president chooses. Votruba said Rhine was informed that it would be more of an “extended tenure” as interim vice president.

“The longer time spent in the seat allows for more opportunity to work through new challenges and situations that can do nothing but better prepare me to move into the permanent seat here at NKU or for my next position at another institution,” Rhine said.

Because Rhine was already involved in the university and in many projects in collaboration with Davenport, she said the transition has been “seamless for the division and smooth for me personally.”

Rhine is continuing to work on major investments in NKU’s academic advising departments. According to Votruba, the university will spend approximately $750,000 to create a new student advising model.

This new advising model would be a collaboration with academic affairs that would ultimately be situated in a transformed University Center.

Rhine said the division is looking at transforming University Center into a Student Success Center in the future. The center would be a place where “students, particularly those entering the institution and in the first year, will have easy access to programs and services in both student affairs and academic affairs that support their success.”

In addition to Rhine stepping into the vice president position, Peter Trentacoste moved from the director of University Housing to interim assistant vice president for student affairs. Much like Rhine, Trentacoste also has experience in student affairs from his position at University Housing.

Along with advising improvements, Rhine is also taking on Davenport’s task of assessing the divisions of student affairs and the value they bring to student success and retention rates. Increasing student success and improving NKU’s effectiveness are the main goals the executive team set in place in 2009. Fall 2011 begins the last year of student affairs’ broad goals and strategic priorities.