University names dean candidates

The candidates are up for vice provost for student affairs, aka the dean of students.

Cali Owings


Candidates to replace Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart, who is on a recess appointment as of Monday, were announced that day.

The four candidates — who currently fulfill similar roles at colleges across the country — will speak at public forums April 8-12.

The vice provost for student affairs and dean of students oversees the Office for Student Affairs and is primarily responsible for the University’s student services. Many student programming initiatives, like Student Unions and Activities and the Department of Recreational Sports, fall under the vice provost’s umbrella.

Rinehart will continue to work through late May, although not full time, said Amelious Whyte, assistant dean of student affairs.

An exact date is not set for Rinehart’s retirement, he said, but the reduced appointment is meant to be a transition into full retirement.

Each candidate will deliver a presentation discussing the role of student affairs at public research universities. All sessions will be held in Keller Hall, Room 3-180, and will be streamed live and posted on the OSA website.

Three University of Minnesota students, including the presidents of the undergraduate and graduate student governments, served on the search committee for Rinehart’s replacement.

Brittany Edwards, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, said students can get involved in the selection process by meeting the candidates at the presentations, asking questions and filling out an evaluation form online.

“Of all the different administrators that have been hired over the past few semesters,” she said, “this is really one that directly affects student life.”

Danita Brown, dean of students at Purdue University

3-4:30 p.m., April 8

Danita Brown, who has served in her current role since March 2011, is the only candidate who is currently part of a Big Ten school administration.

Brown has also been involved in student affairs at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, Ohio University and Loyola University Chicago.

She has extensive experience as an adviser for greek chapters, which she would oversee at Minnesota. When Brown earned her Ph.D. in higher education at Ohio University, she wrote her dissertation on sorority and fraternity leadership behaviors.

John Saddlemire, vice president for student affairs at the University of Connecticut

8-9:30 a.m., April 9

John Saddlemire, who has held his current role since June 2003, has worked in student affairs for nearly 30 years. He started as an assistant residence hall director at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.

At Hartford, he oversees many of the same departments he would at Minnesota, like student health services.

Saddlemire also has Big Ten experience in student affairs at Penn State University, where he earned his doctorate in higher education administration.

Michael Gilbert, vice president for student life  at the University of Delaware

3-4:30 p.m., April 10

Michael Gilbert has held his present post since July 2007.

Previously, Gilbert bounced around the Big Ten, filling positions in student affairs at three Big Ten institutions since 1979.

At Delaware, Gilbert developed a residential plan which will result in 1,500 new beds for students. He oversees 12 departments, including new student orientation and the university’s student center.

Gary Ratcliff, assistant vice chancellor of student life at the University of California-San Diego

 8-9:30 a.m., April 12

Ratcliff has served in student affairs roles at the University of California-San Diego since 2000, after working as director of the student union at the University of Montana and as an assistant at Penn State — the Big Ten school where he also earned his doctorate in higher education.

At California, Ratcliff is chair of a coalition leading the assessment of students’ needs through surveys and focus groups.

He also coordinated a $70 million renovation of two of the school’s student union facilities.