College experiences administrative shake-up


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Administrative Changes

By Campus Editor

The college experienced a stream of employment changes at the administrative level while students and staff were away from campus during winter break.

Susan Marcus, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, left the college Jan. 23, preceding the impending Jan. 30 departure of Robert Koverman, the former associate vice president of Security. Ronald Sodini assumed Koverman’s position Jan. 12, joining new hires Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, and Cindy Gonya, associate vice president of the newly created Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis.

Marcus, who has been at the college for more than five years, accepted the position of Dean of Instruction at Truman College.

“While I’m excited about my new position, there is so much wonderful work happening here at Columbia and so many important connections that I made and wonderful colleagues, so it is [a] mixed [reaction] for me,” Marcus said. “I’m both excited about my new position and sad about leaving Columbia at the same time.” 

Marcus’ departure follows Provost and Senior Vice President Stan Wearden’s Nov. 24, 2014, announcement about restructuring the Office of Academic Affairs, which included eliminating Marcus’ position.

“I think that change has to happen,” Marcus said. “When a new administration comes in, there are structures and systems that they bring from their experiences [and] Columbia has for a while needed some restructuring.”

Sodini, who has more than 28 years of service with the Chicago Police Department, acted as the commander of the Near West Side’s 12th District, which includes the campuses of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Malcolm X College.

Sodini said he wants to establish and maintain open communication with the college community and seek input on campus safety and security issues it deems important.

“In order for a public safety or campus safety organization to be effective, it has to have strong relationships with those that it serves,” Sodini said. “We are part of the community and so we need to listen and solicit the input of those we serve.”

Grunden, the new assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, will assume her duties Feb. 2. She works in a similar position as the associate vice chancellor in the City Colleges of Chicago’s office of Student Financial Services. She has 15 years of experience working with higher education student financial services.

Grunden said her vision is to restructure the Office of Student Financial Services to make it more student-centered.

“I want to make sure we’re considering the needs of the students in all of our different policies and business practices, so anything we can make more student-friendly we should do so,” Grunden said. “[I also want to] support other Columbia initiatives to help students prepare for employment and make sure they are properly supported while they’re working toward their college education.”

Gonya also starts Feb. 2. She has worked as a leader in higher education in the areas of budget, finance and administration for 18 years, and is now leaving her position as associate dean of Administration and Finance at UIC to join Columbia.

Under her new role, Gonya will be working closely with Michelle Gates, vice president of Business Affairs and CFO, to redesign the way the college looks at its budgeting process. The office was created to move Columbia toward a more comprehensive budgeting process driven by analysis and data, giving it stronger control and oversight of its financial resources, Gates said.

According to Gates, there is a lot of duplication of services throughout the college, and Gonya’s work will include reconsolidating those services, creating a cost savings and making them better for students, faculty and other members of the college. 

“[Gonya] is just an outstanding candidate, and I think will be a very strong leader in what is a new way of approaching the budget planning analysis and building a very strong physical oversight function for us here,” Gates said.