During student senate on Thursday, vice provost for student success Jeannie Brown Leonard discussed her new position in the provost’s office in a conversation with Student Governing Association about the changing role of student affairs officials on college campuses.
Student success is not necessarily synonymous with institutional success, Brown Leonard said. As such, she said, the metrics for measuring those thresholds shouldn’t be the same. Where institutional success might focus on freshman to sophomore retention rates, student success would be more concerned with students from the initial point of application to the university until after they graduate.
“It’s not all one size fits all,” Brown Leonard said.
Brown Leonard came to Kansas State a little more than two months ago to fill in one of the four new positions commissioned to fill former dean of students and vice president for student life Pat Bosco’s shoes following his retirement in 2019.
Brown Leonard said while she works closely with the current vice president for student life Thomas Lane, there are distinct differences between the role she plays in the Office of Student Success and the functions of the Office of Student Life. For instance, she works more in the academic sphere, while student life focuses more on student support and experiences outside of the classroom.
Her top priorities right now are to make advising more structured across the board and help integrate technology in the classroom.
“I will be doing much more work on thinking about curriculum, policy … advising — a lot of things that traditionally have been in the academic affairs functions,” Leonard Brown said. “We connect with one another. … I play in the academic space a little bit more.”
Additionally, student senate passed a resolution supporting the possibility of change to instant runoff voting in student body elections with some objection.
Andrew Booze, chair of the Senate Operations Committee, said he believes this form of voting would be more equitable than the current system.
The resolution is not binding and does not mean that it will ever be implemented, but authorizes the investigation into what implementation would require and lets future bodies of SGA know that the current body supported the possible utilization of the system.
Similar to ranked choice voting, instant runoff voting asks individuals to rank all candidates. In the case in which no candidate wins a majority of the vote, the candidate with the least amount of first choice votes would be removed and the votes of the individuals that ranked them as their top option would be reallocated to the candidate they indicated as their second choice. This process would continue until a winner is decided.
In his debate and within the resolution, Booze cited decreased voter turnout as well as recent controversy in student body elections.
During the 2018 student body presidential election, a candidate was disqualified and reinstated following a hearing. During the 2019 student body election, there were 13 total violations filed in the election, culminating in the permanent disqualification of a candidate for student body president leaving only one viable candidate for the office.
Student senate will reconvene after spring break at 7 p.m. on March 19 in Wildcat Chamber.