College appoints three members to Academic Affairs

By Campus Editor

During the Spring 2016 Semester, the college experienced a string of new appointments to the upper administration, including the announcement of five new positions as outlined in the Strategic Plan, three of which have now been filled. 

Most recently, Columbia appointed three administrators to the Office of Academic Affairs on April 12, including Brian Marth as assistant provost of Academic Services, Onye Ozuzu as dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts and Robert Green as the new vice provost for Digital Learning.

“We are not just adding [positions],” said Senior Associate Provost Suzanne Blum Malley. “We are doing some moving and, in some cases, what I would

call, streamlining.” 

Green, who spent 11 years at Berklee College of Music in Boston as assistant vice president of operations and chief financial officer of Berklee Online, will be tasked with developing an online education platform, which will be used primarily by the graduate studies programs, and improving technology use in classrooms across campus.

Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden said the new position is not expected to hurt Columbia financially, as some have expressed worries about, but instead is predicted to boost enrollment. Wearden said the position is meant to bring more students to the college who cannot attend classes in person without putting stress on the college’s physical resources or filling classrooms beyond their capacity. 

Wearden hopes the predicted increase in enrollment will generate new revenue for the college, as seen at Green’s former institution, he said.

“This is the kind of position that in very short order will much more than pay for itself,” Wearden said. “It is not just adding a new expense; it is really an investment in our future. It is an investment in growing our enrollment in new ways that make sense in the 21st century.”

At Berklee College of Music,  Green was in charge of managing Berklee’s student support, finance, online technical systems and online registration. He also implementated Berklee’s first online Bachelor of Professional Studies degree.

Green said his main goal is to learn  and understand the culture of Columbia and gain a sense of what the Strategic Plan’s goals are to better serve Columbia’s variety of students including graduates, undergraduates and alumni. 

“For me, it is about life-long learning,” Robert Green said. “There is a big potential in the continuing education space [for digital learning] which is very suitable for Columbia.”  

Wearden said he hopes Green will thoroughly explore how to improve online courses for the college’s summer and J-term sessions to offer undergraduate students opportunities to complete their degrees faster. 

“We really have to meet our students where they are in their use of technology,” Wearden said. 

Marth, who was previously executive director of the College Advising Center and began working at Columbia in 2000, will replace Keri Walters, who was announced as the new registrar on March 9.

Marth said his position will focus on creating a strong partnership between academic support and the classroom experience by working directly with departments. 

He added that the college’s Advising Center, which recently switched from reporting to the Office of Student Success to working with the Provost’s Office, will remain under his leadership.

“I am really looking forward to working closely with the new career center and internships and how we can partner together on those initiatives,” Marth said.  

Marth’s role will include implementing a new student success collaborative, a type of software that will track referrals between departments, schedule resources for faculty and advisers, and improve resources for students at risk of dropping out. 

Marth added that the software is expected to improve student enrollment and retention. 

“The range of what he knows about how the college works and what the college offers is incredibly powerful,” Blum Malley said.

Marth said he also hopes to more efficiently cross-train advisers on curricular and academic opportunities so students can consult with multiple advisers when they have an appointment.  

Ozuzu, interim dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts since July 2015 and former Dance Department chair, said she looks forward to addressing the changing reality of art and creativity in higher education.  

“We have a team that is leaning in to the challenges of the moment and thinking creatively about solutions that are going to increase the quality of education,” Ozuzu said.

Ozuzu served as co-chair of the Chairs Council and co-chair of the Provost Search Committee that hired Wearden in 2014. She is currently chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and was a member of the Senior Associate Provost Search and Procedural Review committees.

John Green, chair of the Theatre Department who attended all three School of the Fine & Performing Arts dean presentations and was a former interim dean of the school, said Ozuzu brings a valuable background to the school, specifically in terms of her ability to help with the implementation of the Strategic Plan and diversity issues.  

“It will be interesting to see if she brings that double vision of creative artist with administrative insight, which would make her a distinctive dean,” John Green said.  

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