Mary Beth Cooper, the former Dean of Students in The College, and Rob Rouzer, former Director of Student Activities and Wilson Commons, left some big footprints to fill when they left UR last year.
The College took a step toward filling them this summer by promoting Jody Asbury to Dean of Students in The College and Anne-Marie Algier as Director of Student Activities and Wilson Commons.
Both held interim positions after their predecessors left.
Dean of The College William Green made the decision to promote Asbury because he felt “she did such a good job to deserve her promotion” after consulting a range of students, faculty and staff.
“She is extraordinarily well qualified by training and even more qualified in experience,” he said, noting Asbury’s 24 years of experience. “She’s been here a long time, she likes students, and she’s worked in every area of student affairs. She proved herself. She did a wonderful job.”
Before becoming Dean of Students in The College, Asbury served in a variety of roles including the Director for Orientation, the Freshman Dean and the Associate Dean in charge of discipline.
Immediately after stepping into the interim position, Asbury was faced with a very difficult situation. On Dec. 3, UR Security found a mutilated cat on Sigma Chi’s door, beginning a six-month investigation and trial.
“She handed it as well as it could be handled,” Green said. “She’s barely had a minute to sit down.”
“It definitely wasn’t the way that I wanted to get to know students,” Asbury said. “But, my experience was a reservoir to draw on in approaching the situation and dealing with it. I had a strong sensibility of knowing where we were going, maybe the technique wasn’t the best.”
Asbury has a clearly defined set of goals for the office. She wants to establish programs to open Rochester to the undergraduate population, clarify policies on all kinds of different issues and continue increasing the awareness that it is students that own their education.
“I’m in a position to not just make recommendations, but to change policies,” she said. “I’m pretty creative and this isn’t the time to roll out the same old solutions.”
After her official promotion, one of Asbury’s first tasks was to find a replacement for Rouzer. She didn’t look far or long, promoting Algier July 1.
“Anne-Marie is an extraordinary person and professional. She’s brining some great energy and expertise to the job,” Asbury said.
“She’s wonderful. That’s what I’ve heard from students and staff everywhere,” he said.
Algier decided to take on the new responsibilities because of the staff around her and the powers of her new position.
“I’ve always had some ideas and thoughts about changes I’d like to make to some things,” she said. “I just thought it was time to test those out.”
She also noted the students as a driving force behind the decision.
“The students here are wonderful,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine working without them. I couldn’t stand being an administrator who was in meetings all day.”
She set to work immediately, reassigning functions of staff within her office.
Assistant Director of Student Activities George Morrison will focus solely on Wilson Commons. He will also coordinate events and programs with ARAMARK, integrating dining services more into the building and its uses.
Four staff members will coordinate with programming student groups.
Assistant Director of Student Activities Mellisia Schmidt will focus her efforts on all SA groups that relate to Wilson Commons including Campus Activities Board, UR Concerts and Cinema Group. Assistant Director of Student Activities Brenda Mertyl will advise cultural, performing and activist groups. Algier will continue most of Rouzer’s old SA responsibilities, advising media groups and the student government.
The fourth adviser, who hasn’t been hired yet, will advise class and academic councils.
Algier and her staff have also been doing an extensive evaluation of all spaces in Wilson Commons and working on plans to renovate them. They are also considering services and programs in other areas on the River Campus that could be better.
“The building obviously has some problems but one of the things I was very heartened by is the fact that people are very willing to talk candidly about the Wilson Commons and work to make it better,” she said. “People really want this building to be a thriving center of campus.”
Students who utilize the building a lot have begun to see a change.
“I have noticed that more student input is being gathered, especially when it comes to the spaces within Wilson Commons,” senior and CAB president Jason Smith said. “I believe she’s working toward making Wilson Commons the hub of campus it should be. Anne-Marie is well on her way toward that goal.”
Hildebrandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.