Williams makes staff changes, creates advisory group
President R. Owen Williams has announced three appointments to his cabinet, implemented other staff changes, and created an advisory council to better serve the needs of Transylvania as he works collaboratively while introducing strategies to move the university forward.
Joining the cabinet are Jason Whitaker ’97, director of information technology, and faculty members Veronica Dean-Thacker, professor of Spanish, and Meg Upchurch, professor of psychology. Dean-Thacker and Upchurch were appointed on a two-year, rotating basis.
Whitaker joined the staff in April 2008 when his position was created. His department sets up, troubleshoots, and manages computer and Internet services for faculty, staff, and student computers.
Williams has stressed technological savvy as a priority for the Transylvania community. “Jason has done great things as IT director, and he is a valuable addition to the cabinet as we continue to move forward as leaders in technology in higher education,” he said.
Whitaker said enrollment is a key area where technology can help Transylvania move forward in its new student recruitment goals. “Being ahead of the technological game is attractive to prospective students,” he said. “Some students are coming out of high school with technology that rivals what we have here, so we have to stay on top of it.”
Enrollment was the focus of a reorganization that Williams announced involving the admissions office and financial aid office.
“These two offices will now operate under an enrollment umbrella charged with advancing Transylvania’s goals of increased diversity, class size, and academic standards while better integrating the functions of admissions and financial aid,” he said.
Along with the realignment, Williams announced the new titles of vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions for Brad Goan, formerly director of admissions, and associate vice president for financial aid for David Cecil, formerly director of financial aid.
In other staff areas, Williams named Sarah Emmons, director of public relations, as associate vice president of communications and public relations, and Mark Blankenship, acting vice president for development, as associate vice president for alumni affairs.
To add to the efficiency of his own office, Williams reached into the admissions office and named Deana Ison, formerly senior associate director of admissions, as his executive assistant. A 15-year Transylvania veteran, Ison was also formerly admissions counselor, assistant director, associate director, and interim director of admissions.
“Deana was very successful in Transylvania’s admissions efforts and has brought her incredible work ethic to my office,” Williams said. “She is not only a great liaison, but she contributes to the management and administrative process as well.”
Ison cited her work with President’s Advisory Council chair and art professor Nancy Wolsk, and presiding officer of the faculty and religion professor Paul Jones, as among her more rewarding assignments so far.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to work with the faculty in this collaborative capacity,” she said. “Every day has been new and exciting, and I learn something different each day.”
A title change that was announced earlier by then-President Charles L. Shearer named Mike Vetter, formerly dean of students, as vice president and dean of students.
The President’s Advisory Council is a group of 16 faculty, staff, and a student representative that will advise Williams on issues important to the campus community. The director of public safety, the presiding officer of the faculty, and the director of the physical plant are standing members, while others serve a three-year term on a rotating basis. The council meets once a month.