New CLASS Deans appointed

Two assistant deans of the residential commons have recently been appointed, effective as of November 16, for the Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students initiative. Mary Gleason and Christina Lowery were selected as part of the national search for the CLASS assistant dean position and will join Assistant Dean of Blitman Commons Shannon Hitchcock ’05.

Gleason will have a room in Polytech Apartments, while Lowery will move into Hall Hall’s new apartment once finished. “Gleason and Lowery are outstanding student life professionals who will add great value to our CLASS initiative,” Vice President for Student Life Eddie Ade Knowles said about the new hires.

Gleason has held several positions at the State University of New York campuses at Binghamton and Buffalo, and at Manhattan College. She received her bachelor’s in communications from the State University of New York at Geneseo, and a master’s in student personnel administration from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Lowery has held a position as a resident director at the University of Maine and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She has a bachelor’s in English from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s in student development in higher education from the University of Maine.

“Their backgrounds will enable us to truly enhance our programs as we continue to implement our residential college model,” said Knowles.

The search process has also grown to include student input. Grand Marshal Michael Zwack ’11 said, “The collaboration between the Division of Student Life and Human Resources with students interviewing each candidate was a great step in putting a student voice into the CLASS planning process.”

The search continues for a class dean, who will move through with the Class of 2013 from sophomore to senior year, as well as for the faculty deans. Plans are to have these searches completed in the spring semester. The Division of Student Life will also be looking at the same pool of applicants from the assistant dean of residential commons search plus a few additional résumés to replace Assistant Dean of Residence Life Mark Diodato, who will be leaving in December for a position at Albany College of Pharmacy.

The Greek Commons Agreement has also been released to certain members of greek life, and Knowles will continue to circulate, discuss, and explain the agreement among houses and members of the greek community.

“Although houses don’t have to sign this agreement, we hope many will want to be part of this initiative,” Knowles stated. “We’re giving them the opportunity to be part of CLASS, and we want to work with them to create a greek model of CLASS.”

Also related to CLASS, a group of students, with financial support from President Shirley Ann Jackson, will be visiting other colleges early next semester to learn more about the residential commons model as well as other parts that will be involved in the initiative, particularly greek life and residence life staffing. Zwack stated, “We’ll be using these trips as well as more dialogue with the Division of Student Life to clarify the future roles of off-campus and greek commons deans as well as improve the plans for the Rensselaer Residence Commons Model.”

Though the number of colleges will be narrowed down to about four, Zwack said that Middlebury College, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and Yale University are all potential schools selected by Student Life as well as the Interfraternity Council, Panhel, and the Student Senate.