MU office restructuring to create efficiency and synergy between departments, improve student experience

Students can expect to see changes in Greek Life, Residential Life and student engagement.

MU restructured many administrative offices over the summer to correct inefficiencies and promote synergy.

The Department of Student Life consists of 18 offices that reported to Dean of Students Jeff Zeilenga when he was assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs. Many of these offices, such as student organizations and Mizzou Alternative Breaks, now fall under the umbrella of the Office of Student Engagement, which then reports to Zeilenga.

There are now only three main offices for the Department of Student Life: the Office of Student Engagement, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the Office of Student Accountability and Support.

Zeilenga said he previously noted a lack of collaboration between similar offices and wanted to create a better system.

“We have had departments that had different leadership,” Zeilenga said. “As a result, collaboration [was] more difficult. We have eliminated a lot of the structural layers. We now have staff that are sitting next to each other talking about how they can collaborate.”

Zeilenga said one of his main goals was to create a sense of belonging on campus. The 2016 Climate Survey, released in September, showed that 66 percent of the respondents feel comfortable on campus. Zeilenga said this number suggests that change should be made to help more students have a greater sense of belonging on campus.

“We do not want students to come here and not feel connected or feel lost,” Zeilenga said. “It is our responsibility to provide as many opportunities as we can for students to have meaningful engagement. That goes directly back to the Campus Climate Survey.”

Another purpose for the restructuring was financial reasons. Administration overseeing the changes cite lowering the cost of attendance for students as a goal for the restructuring, Zeilenga said.

“One of the primary reasons for the restructure was to find cost savings for the institution that could continue to either be reallocated toward other priorities or invested to strengthen the student experience on campus,” Zeilenga said.

Julie Drury, director of the Office of Student Accountability and Support, is in the process of internally restructuring the former Office of Student Conduct. Drury said another goal of the restructuring was to increase student achievement on and off campus.

“We want them to be successful while they are here and when they leave [and] to be able to be here, find some outlets to become who they are as a Mizzou student and then to graduate and go on to be successful,” Drury said.

Drury said the administration has been looking at other institutions to find examples of effective office models for successful students.

“What we have been doing over the last two months is figuring out what the best practices across the country are and how to make it the best for our Mizzou students,” Drury said. “Higher education is changing and we have to change with it. We want to show others how it can be done successfully.”

Zeilenga said he hopes to see changes in the culture of the Greek communities on campus and for students to have a sense of belonging overall.

“We will continue to change the organization,” Zeilenga said. “I do not think you ever stop changing an organization. Any good enterprise never settles; they are always thinking about how they are going to improve.”

MU administration is working with Keeling & Associates to look at the best practices ideals for Student Affairs. Zeilenga said they will note the efficiency of the changes and possibly propose further alterations.

“We will take those recommendations and look at them in tandem with changes that we have been making to see if there are further ways to improve our organizational efficiencies and the programs that we deliver to our students,” Zeilenga said.

With the restructuring, Zeilenga said students will undoubtedly see changes on campus.

“I think you're going to see a higher quality and higher caliber of programming. We will have more strategic goals,” Zeilenga said. “Most of what we're working on right now is focused on improving the student experience and providing better services to our students. We are trying to find greater academic collaborations at a level that we have never tried to attain before.”

Edited by Olivia Garrett |

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