Christa Kelly, News Editor
Students and faculty alike were surprised to receive an email from President Paul Pribbenow announcing the immediate retirement of Vice President for Student Affairs Ann Garvey as well as a structural change that eliminates her position. “These structural changes become effective immediately,” the president wrote in a mass email to students, staff and faculty on Tuesday, Nov 12..
The president spoke warmly about Garvey, highlighting the work she’d done at Augsburg. It noted that she had worked with “fierce dedication” for Augsburg for over 22 years and was “instrumental in both shaping and realizing our deep commitment to equity and inclusion in support of our increasingly diverse student body”.
“I am grateful for Ann’s dedication and deep commitment to our students,” Pribbenow said. He finished the email by announcing that the university would be holding a gathering in her honor after winter break.
Though the president wrote that Garvey would be going on a “long-planned leave”, the general consensus of students and faculty seemed to be that the retirement was unexpected. The University Council, which serves in advisory capacity to the president on university-wide decisions at Augsburg, discussed the change and its implications at a meeting on the 18th, where the President was met with questions and concerns regarding the decision. Unconfirmed reports that Garvey’s retirement was not by choice have raised questions among both faculty and the student body. At press time, Garvey was unavailable for comment.
As Vice President for Student Affairs, Garvey was in charge of a number of departments crucial to university functions. These departments included Campus Life, the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Multicultural Student Services, and Residence Life. After the organizational changes announced by President Pribbenow, these departments, with the exception of DPS, will shift to be managed by Provost Karen Kaivola. Pribbenow wrote that the change was in order to “more closely align with students’ academic experience and our academic support services.” There was no comment on how this would better support these areas.
Provost Karen Kaivola made the following statement to the Echo: ” The student experience is at the center of everything we do at Augsburg University. We recognize that our students’ experience includes learning and growth both inside and outside of the classroom – and that this experience requires support from dedicated offices and services (campus life, residence life, counseling and wellness, academic advising, etc). The organizational change underway is intended to integrate Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in order to best support this holistic student experience.
Ann Garvey’s contributions to Augsburg were many and they were significant: Ann worked to improve the quality of campus life and student life experiences for all of our students; she was a consistent presence at students’ meetings, athletic events, and community activities. While the Vice President of Student Affairs position has been eliminated, we have a talented student-facing team – in both Student Affairs and Academic Affairs – dedicated to meeting the needs of our students. As we move forward, I will actively encourage Augsburg leadership, faculty, and staff to maintain an active presence at student events, activities, initiatives, and meetings. In the coming months, I will work with Student Affairs leadership, as well as student success and academic support teams, to explore ideas for more integrated services and structures intentionally designed to support our students. I look forward to sharing themes that emerge from those conversations with students, faculty, and staff as we begin the transition to a new organizational structure during the spring term.
We anticipate these changes to be long-term. The change reflects trends we are seeing nationally across higher education, where it is becoming more common for Student Affairs divisions to report up through the Provost’s Office. Institutions are initiating this change in order to design more fully integrated and shared visions for deepening support – in and out of the classroom – for today’s students.”
This is a developing story. Updates will be given after more details are confirmed.