Two student life deans will leave MIT on June 30, 2007 as their positions are merged. The decision to combine the positions of Dean David N. Rogers, assistant dean and director of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living Groups, and Dean Andrew J. Ryder, assistant dean for Residential Life Programs, comes in the wake of an earlier reorganization of the Division of Student Life.
The announcement, which came in early March, was a surprise to students and the deans themselves. In an e-mail version of the announcement, Karen A. Nilsson, senior associate dean for Residential Life, wrote that "the areas of FSILGs and Residential Life Programs … will join forces to strengthen that which is shared among them and provide comprehensive programs for all students at MIT."
Rogers and Ryder agreed that the new combined position will be a challenging one. Ryder's advice to the new staff member is to "listen to students and other players at the Institute," citing his relationship with dormitory housemasters as key to his success.
"I think it'll be a daunting task for anyone," Rogers said, adding that it will be difficult to balance the differences between the FSILGs and dormitories while trying to increase collaboration.
Both deans said that they do not know what went into the decision to merge their positions nor what qualities will be important to those hiring the new staff member.
In an earlier reorganization of the Division of Student Life that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2007, a new Residential Life unit was created. The unit now includes Housing, Residential Life Programs, FSILGs, and the Dining office.
It's unclear what went into the latest decision to combine Rogers' and Ryder's positions, since Nilsson could not be reached for comment. Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict declined to comment. In a Nov. 17 Tech article, Nilsson said that she planned to gather student feedback on the Jan. 1 reorganization, saying, "It's always been our practice to utilize our students on teams."
Students were "absolutely not" part of the decision to merge the positions, Undergraduate Association President Andrew T. Lukmann '07 said. "It's not that much of a surprise that students aren't consulted in personnel decisions."
Lukmann said that Benedict promised him that students would be part of the search process for a replacement.
Rogers oversees the entire FSILG system, about 1,500 students, and works on leadership development, chapter advising, and reaching the goals of the chapters and officers.
Ryder's job description includes providing leadership to the Residential Life Associates program, the Deans on Call program, dormitory programming, and working with the SLOPE Orientation planning committee. He also supports the Graduate Residence Tutor program by helping train new GRTs. He said that he feels he has made a strong impact on the training program by making it more systemized and productive.
Lukmann said that while he served as the president of Simmons Hall and as Dormitory Council secretary, he worked with Ryder on a few projects. Ryder was "always quite helpful … always seen as a pretty strong ally of dormitory students," Lukmann said.
Rogers said that during his time here, he started sending students to the Undergraduate InterFraternity Institute, a leadership institute. Last year, he helped bring UIFI to campus, where it was called IMPACT. This helped increase the amount of conversation students have about what it means to be in a fraternity or sorority, he said.
Before he leaves MIT, Rogers said that he will continue to connect with individuals within the FSILGs, and will work on some of the IMPACT 5, which are five areas of interest developed by the IFC and the Panhellenic Association during IMPACT.
InterFraternity Council President Daniel S. Eads '08 said that the IMPACT 5 addresses Greek unity, living your ritual, public image, risk management, and member apathy.
As for long-term plans, Rogers said that eight to 10 FSILGs may move to Cambridge from Boston over the next five years, though more detailed plans have not yet been made.
Eads said that Rogers has been a great Greek advisor who "always has his door open." Students, he said, are upset and sad to see Rogers go because he has had a very positive impact on the FSILG community.
Campus Preview Weekend will be a big part of Ryder's responsibilities this spring and he hopes to finalize GRT placements as well. He said he'd also like to make sure that SLOPE "gets left in good order." "People remember how you leave," he said.
Before coming to MIT in October 2004, Ryder was the assistant director for residential life at Northeastern University. He was also a hall director there. At Iowa State University, where he earned his masters in education, he was an assistant director for the honors program. He attended the College of William and Mary for his undergraduate education, earning a bachelors degree in history and government.
Rogers has spent his career working with fraternities and sororities. Before coming to MIT in 2001, he was the assistant director of Greek life at the University of Connecticut-Stores. His first job was at Merrimac College, where he spent two years as a Greek advisor and resident director.
During his undergraduate years at Lynchburg College, where he earned a bachelors degree in English literature, Rogers was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He served as a house father, the equivalent of a residential advisor, to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Rhode Island, where he earned his masters degree in student affairs.
Ryder said that he is looking at the announcement as a positive opportunity. He is applying to doctoral programs in educational leadership and policy studies, something he already had plans to do a year from now. These studies might lead to a variety of career options, including policy-making, he said.
Rogers is also viewing the situation optimistically. "It's the sort of things that happen in the corporate world, the higher ed. world … You accept it and move on."
As Rogers completes his doctoral degree in higher education from the University of Massachusetts, he is job searching. But his next job will probably not be in Greek life, he said. He is looking both within and outside the realm of higher education and both on and off college campuses. There are few available positions similar to the one he has held here, and he said that he has been involved in Greek life for a long time, though he said he plans to continue volunteering as ritual steward for MIT's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.