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Loss of Eisenmann Reshapes RLSLP

By Kevin R. Lang


Long before major changes from the new residence system impact rush, dormitory selection, or first-year housing, the Office of Residential Life and Student Life Programs is facing a major restructuring to cope with implementation.

After RLSLP director Andrew M. Eisenmann ’70 announced his decision to step down, RLSLP presented a new administrative structure. Rather than a single director who reports to the Dean for Student Life, three administrators will handle programming, operations, and administration, respectively.

Special Assistant to the Chancellor Kirk D. Kolenbrander said that RLSLP had been discussing a reorganization for some time, but “this particular form [of reorganization] hasn’t been in the works.” He said RLSLP wondered, “if the director is leaving, then is there a more optimized model?”

The changes were made in “the spirit of increasing our effectiveness,” Kolenbrander said.

RLSLP recognized the need for a full-time programming administrator to handle implementation of the new residence system. Kolenbrander noted that Eisenmann’s retirement made reorganization more feasible. “Dean Eisenmann’s decision to step down is a critical piece here.”

A new Associate Dean for Student Life Programs will take on much of Eisenmann’s responsibilities, especially related to implementation. “We’re putting in its place a more focused position,” Kolenbrander said.

Eisenmann said that the reorganization brings the structure of the office in line with its philosophy of merging residence with student life. The changes “will create a very, very strong foundation for the organization,” he said.

According to Dean for Student Life Margaret R. Bates, the transition was motivated immediately by the need to oversee the implementation of the 2002 decision.

Administrative triumvirate

The three administrators will form the “RLSLP Leadership Team,” and each will report directly to the new Dean for Student Life. Unlike the previous RLSLP structure, there will be no single administrator in charge of all RLSLP.

Karen Nilsson will continue as Associate Director of Operations and Laura Capone will continue as Assistant Director of Administration, but both will take on some of Eisenmann’s duties.

Operations deals with room assignments, house managers, and other logistical issues of the residence system -- “putting people in rooms and safe environments,” as Kolenbrander put it. “It has relatively little to do with the experiences they have in those physical spaces.”

After Eisenmann leaves on July 1 and until the new dean is found, all three will report to Kolenbrander.

Implementation still on track

“Certainly, another year gives us the opportunity to be just a little more deliberative, but the time table continues to be very aggressive,” Kolenbrander said. RLSLP is currently moving forward on all aspects of implementation except orientation.

RLSLP is beginning to implement some of the proposals outlined in the residence system presented by Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72. These include a survey being mailed out with the residence guide to the class of 2004 to gauge interests in on-campus housing for summer residence selection, the spring rush going on this weekend, the Weekends@MIT program, and pilots for residential advising.

“We are rolling on a number of the implementation issues,” Kolenbrander said.

Next week, RLSLP will being “putting names and faces on each one of those implementation projects,” Kolenbrander said. “Within the next week or two, we’ll be able to clearly identify who in RLSLP is responsible for that piece of implementation.”

Other administrators shuffled

In another move, Katherine G. O’Dair will fill a new role as Assistant Dean for Residential Programs, and a new Program Administrator of Student Activities will take over O’Dair’s responsibilities. A search is currently underway to fill the position.

“Katie’s role will be focused entirely within our residence halls,” Kolenbrander said.

Ricky A. Gresh, FSILG coordinator, will be promoted to Program Administrator for Residential Programs. A second new position, Coordinator for Residential Programs, will focus on FSILG programming.

Carol Orme-Johnson will become Assistant Dean for Student Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Discipline.

Searches will be conducted for the new Associate Dean position and the other new administrators. “I expect internal applicants,” Kolenbrander said.

Kolenbrander’s role as an RLSLP supervisor and implementation leader will continue to be temporary.

“My role from the beginning has been on an interim basis until the next dean for student life comes on board,” Kolenbrander said.

Eisenmann could not be reached for comment. Related stories: