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June 19, 2014

CSU scales up Student Affairs

By Dan Levindofske

Cleveland State University appointed Ernest “Boyd” Yarbrough to Vice President of Student Affairs and Clare Rahm to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.

These appointments will take effect July 1.
The appointments are part of a new alignment of all student activities.

As Vice President of Student Affairs, Yarbrough will oversee the Student Life and Campus Support Services departments.
Rahm will continue to oversee residence life, dining, the CSU bookstore, recreation and parking and transportation.

“In most schools, the residence life and recreational services are part of student affairs and that was not the case here,” Yarbrough said. “Consultants prior to me were saying ‘You really need to realign the portfolio of what’s included in student affairs to more accurately reflect what’s happening nationwide.’”

Student affairs will now include all of the operations that Rahm currently is responsible for.

Previously, student affairs consisted mostly of student life and health services, along with the Women’s Center, the Veteran Center, ROTC and media relations.

Yarbrough said a simplistic way to think about it is “we’re merging those two operations together to create a more robust division of student affairs.”

He also said that the responsibilities holistically don’t change but the day-to-day operations will.

“Fundamentally, before the reorganization we were focused on student success and after the reorganization, we’re focused on student success, so the goal doesn’t change at all,” said Yarbrough. “What does change is the portfolio of areas that report here and the synergistic collaborative opportunities to work together to accomplish that goal of student success.”

Yarbrough said that the new alignment opens the door for collaboration and savings, while avoiding the duplication of work. It will seemingly provide a more engaging experience for students in ways that are more cost effective.

“The driving motivation is the opportunity for collaboration and synergy, one of the consequences will be it will be more efficient,” said Yarbrough. “I anticipate we can do more with less.”

Yarbrough currently serves as Vice Provost for Student Affairs, a position he has held since 2013. The departments he will now oversee encompass functions including student organizations, student activities and events, student engagement and judicial affairs, among others.

As far as being named to her new position, Clare Rahm was ecstatic, “I’m very excited to be part of this new team, I really am. It’s a great professional opportunity, I’m psyched.”

Yarbrough backed the appointment of Rahm, saying “Clare is the perfect person to make this happen because she has a background in student affairs. I also know what her role is like when I ran auxilaries at another institution.”
Rahm said that the university is looking for a chance for the units that have been campus support services to find ways to link up to the services that have been student affairs and student life.

“My sense is that all that we’ll be asked to do will be in the spirit of what we are offering that helps students feel a part of the institution so that they have a sense of commitment, so that they finish their classes,” said Rahm. “It’s all about how do we help you stay engaged to graduate. What are we doing now to help with that and what could we be doing differently?”

Rahm asserted that a positive student experience outside of the classroom contributes to success in the classroom. She stated the goal is to make sure that every student has a connection.

“At the end of the day, everything that we try to do should ultimately contribute to helping you graduate,” said Rahm. “That’s what you came to us for.”

Rahm is currently Assistant Vice President in the Division of Business Affairs and Finance. She will work collaboratively with Yarbrough in her new role as Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs.
As far as what students can expect from the two new appointments and the realignment, Yarbrough offered one last sentiment.
“One of the things students can expect is a higher degree of engagement from our staff, a greater array of programs and opportunities for student success,” said Yarbrough. “The biggest thing for me is to provide opportunities for students to make connections.”