Nick McAdam, Editor-in-Chief
This article was updated from its original form on Oct. 2 at 12:17 p.m.
On Sept. 14, former Dean of Students at Utica College, Timothy Ecklund, stepped down from his role, resulting in swift roster moves from the Student Living and College Engagement staff.
According to an email from the Division of Student Life and Enrollment Management, Scott Nonemaker moved into the Interim Dean of Students role, Marissa Finch became the Interim Director of Student Living and Lauryn Moore stepped into the role of the Interim Director of Student Engagement.
The Statesman, the student newspaper for Stony Brook University, published an editorial in 2017 noting that “Students deserve the truth on Dean Ecklund’s departure”, which, according to the publication, was also in a timely manner for which he said he wanted to explore other opportunities.
According to the campus-wide announcement on Sept. 14, Ecklund cited personal reasons for his resignation. Ecklund’s notice came the same day that he left the college.
Utica College sent the update of Ecklund’s resignation to its students two days after the breaking news announcement, which noted their best wishes for his future. Since then, no comments or updates have come from the administration on the news. Nonemaker, Finch and Moore have all started work in their new roles.
“I’ll always appreciate his [Ecklund’s] drive to make things better,” Moore said. “I remember that we both worked closely in starting Alternative Fall Break which had 70 students participating. After I informed him of this, he said ‘Great, how do we get that number over 100 next year?’”
Ecklund’s time at UC is defined by his work to increase student involvement on campus. Upon arriving at the campus in 2018, he noted that 75% of students’ time is spent outside of the classroom which could then be applied to various clubs, professional organizations and teams.
Nonemaker is planning to keep this same energy for his work in his new position, specifically noting that the new COVID environment is being met with a drive from both SLCE and athletics to give students something to do.
“We’ve been looking at what other schools are doing to entice their students to be involved, especially during these times,” Nonemaker said. “At the moment, we’re trying to find ways to dress the Residential Quad into ‘pockets’ that are both safe and fun for interested students.”
Student involvement has been the focus of the SLCE office for some time. The level of student involvement has been tied to UC’s retention rate, which is something Ecklund actively tried to correlate to student involvement and ultimately raise, especially it’s low numbers for first-year students.
Although the college offers a host of sports teams, more than 80 clubs on campus, and a number of professional organizations spread across different majors, Nonemaker believes that student involvement boils down to what is seen from the student at an exact moment of time.
“The opportunities are there for our students to be entertained and to learn,” he said. “I think I originally heard it from Rich Racioppa (director of Student-Athlete Success) is that the one thing the student wants to do isn’t available or accessible to them at that moment in time. That’s what students mean when they say ‘There’s nothing to do here.’”
Nonemaker’s plans for the role extend beyond his interim label at the assignment. This role has been a goal for him in his career, and he hopes to stay in it for the foreseeable future.
The idea for the college at the moment, according to Nonemaker, is to start the search for a permanent occupancy in the spring semester, with the hopes of having a new Dean of Students ready in the fall.
“Very little has been said,” Nonemaker said. “I suspect that I will be in this role until May and then we’ll go from there. This is the direction I want my career to go in. I hope that students can see me as an ally and to help move this institution forward.”