Office of Student Affairs Welcomes New Staff
Issue   |   Wed, 09/10/2014 - 05:38

Last week the college announced several staffing changes within the Office of Student Affairs.

In an email to the campus community, Dean of Students Alex Vasquez and Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey introduced the new staff members. Demitrius Brown is the new Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life. Leykia Brill will serve as the Associate Director for Student Activities and Engagement. Corry Colonna is the new Associate Director for Residential Life, and Laura Laver and Michael Vidal are the two new Area Coordinators.

“There are four new positions, but there haven’t been any new rules created. Each change was made to build greater capacity to help students,” Vasquez said.

Another recent change in Student Affairs, not announced in the email, came when former Director of Residential Life Torin Moore assumed a new position as Case Manager and Coordinator of Leave/Readmission.

Moore had served as Director of Residential Life life for the past eight years. There, he was heavily involved in coordinating the housing assignments and the Room Draw. He supervised the Area Coordinators and also directed the Resident Counselor staff training during the summers.

“It’s been a great experience, really wonderful. It was a job that has lots of dimensions and lots of components to it,” Moore said.

Besides the training and housing assignments, Moore also facilitated many of the facility renovations and refurbishment projects in Charles Pratt, Seligman, Charles Drew, Lipton, Tyler, Mayo-Smith and Hitchcock among many more.

Moore is now a part of the Case Management Team, which focuses on communicating closely with the class deans in order to assist them with working even more closely with Amherst students.

"We work closely to help our students overcome their personal challenges that might hinder them in any way from being a student,” Moore said. “It’s neat. It’s about looking at the whole student.”

Another newly introduced position in the Office of Student Affairs is the Assistant Dean of Student Life job.

According to Vasquez, this new position is geared towards “bringing both residence life and student activity together so that instead of reporting to individual, separate people, both sections report to one individual who is the Assistant Dean of Student Life.”

Vasquez said he was excited about the recent structural changes.

I feel like I’m coming into the group with the right people around the table,” he said. “It’s a small group but at the very least, I know all our bases are covered. The question we want to address is, ‘Is the student being served best?’”

Brill said that she will also be striving to address this question in her new role. Though Brill is new to the Office of Student Affairs, she is not new to the college: in 2009, she joined the Amherst administration as a member of the Office of Admission. Later, in 2011, became the Associate Dean of Admission and Coordinator for Diversity Outreach.

“I worked on the diversity open houses and the April open houses to welcome new prospective students,” Brill said. “I also read applications, traveled, and interacted with high school counselors. But I mostly focused my energy on access to college, first generation, low-income, students from rural backgrounds, people who might not typically be exposed a school like Amherst College. And that was the fun part, that you really have the opportunity to change lives.”

Brill said that she is eager to take on her new role.

“I wanted to make this transition for a long time,” she said. “I’ve tried in different ways and this opportunity came along. And when I saw it, I thought that this is something natural for me. I know how to program and I can do the student activities role but I can take this role to a different place where we focus on engagement, community building, relationships, trust-building, leadership.”

After finishing up work in the Office of Admission this October, Brill will begin her full-time job in student activities.