Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Andy Thon’s Replacement Announced

From a University e-mail:
A college administrator who is also a lawyer is the new vice president for student affairs at Marquette University. The appointment of Dr. L. Christopher Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs and administrative services at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is effective July 15.

Miller, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, earned his law degree at Campbell University and his Ph.D. in justice studies from Arizona State University. He has also studied at the Institute for Educational Management in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

“In Dr. Miller we have found a creative and energetic leader with broad-based experience in many aspects of student life,” Marquette President Robert A. Wild, S.J., said. “He has a reputation for collaboration and team building in the development of plans and programs to enhance the student experience.”

Miller will succeed Rev. Andrew Thon, S.J., who is stepping down as vice president for student affairs to take a year’s sabbatical. In addition to doing some writing and research during his sabbatical, Father Andy is also serving as president of the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

“The values set forth in Marquette’s mission statement — excellence, faith, leadership and service — are core values I hold personally and professionally,” Miller said. “The university’s focus on the development of the whole student, mind, body and spirit, is particularly important to me.”

At UIS, Miller has direct oversight over 16 departments, many of them areas he will also supervise at Marquette, including the Counseling Center, health services, student development, student discipline, residence life and recreational sports. His UIS responsibilities also include service learning, athletics, admissions, registration and records, financial services, international student affairs, dining/food services, building services and administration.

In his role as vice chancellor, Miller said he had the opportunity to “affect student development opportunities in many more ways, such as promoting diversity, providing more student leadership opportunities, developing our athletics program and cementing more student affairs connections with our academic mission.”

Prior to coming to UIS, Miller served as associate dean of student affairs at South Dakota State University and assistant dean of administration at Arizona State University. He is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the American College Personnel Association and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Miller is committed to community service, serving on a number of City of Springfield committees. He has also been active in local chapters of the American Heart Association, the Boys and Girls Club, the Urban League and the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation and served as school board president of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield.
Here is a blurb on Miller on the UIS web site.

Brian Collar has already blogged on this, and his reaction is positive, since this is an outside appointment.

Our first reaction is less favorable, although this would be the case whoever was appointed, since the bureaucrats who might want this position are, as a whole, not an inspiring lot.

Thon certainly failed to provide much in the way of positive leadership when he had the position. Not only was the bureaucracy he headed inclined to shut up student free expression, especially from the College Republicans and Students for Academic Freedom (which was simply denied the right to organize at Marquette), the programming from the Office of Student Development had a rigorous leftist bias.

Looking at Miller’s background, he seems to be just another bureaucrat in the standard mold. Before he joined UIS, he was Associate Dean of Student Affairs at South Dakota State University and before that Assistant Dean of Administration at Arizona State University. The only oddball thing is that he’s a lawyer. That doesn’t sound like a plus.

One possibility is that he will simply be more pragmatic and flexible than Thon, who rigidly supported his subordinates in shutting down free speech from the College Republicans and ran into a public relations buzz saw for doing so.

He may come to surprise us, but the burden is on him to prove that he isn’t just the standard, group think prone and politically correct student affairs bureaucrat who considers a Catholic mission to be a marketing gimmick or (on a select few issues) a justification for leftist political activism.

We will most definitely see.

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