Coffey Stays on in Student Affairs
Issue   |   Tue, 02/09/2016 - 23:47

Suzanne Coffey has accepted an extension to her appointment as chief student affairs officer, President Biddy Martin announced on Feb. 3. This month marked the expiration of Coffey’s original two-year appointment.

The chief student affairs officer position was established in Feb. 2014 after the resignation of Jim Larimore as dean of students.

“As a member of the senior staff, the chief student affairs officer is an appointment that is made by the president,” Martin wrote in an email interview. “In this case, it was a matter of extending an appointment that was made two years ago, rather than a matter of making a new appointment.”

Coffey’s appointment in 2014 caused controversy among students because the student body was not consulted for the decision. The Association of Amherst Students published a resolution criticizing the lack of transparency in the hiring process.

The dean of students and chief student affairs officer divide responsibilities. The dean is concerned primarily with student life and student affairs, while the chief student affairs officer oversees the counseling center, health center and case managers, as well as reports from class deans.

“Over the last two years, we’ve been successful in creating a more trusted counseling center,” Coffey said. “We’ve hired a new counseling center director. We’ve hired a lot of new counselors. We’ve done the same thing with the health center.”

Coffey was also responsible for moving the Office of Student Life and the International Students Office into Keefe Campus Center.

“Having four new residence halls coming online for the next fall, having the opportunity to open up social spaces across campus for access to all students, being able to change the dynamic over how residence’s life is managed bottom out — it’s a goal, a challenge, it’s exciting, and it’s a way I think we can change the social dynamic on campus,” Coffey said. “It is a way to bridge divide across various groups of students.”

In light of the events of Amherst Uprising, Coffey said she hopes to talk about students’ ideas on how to improve campus life and work with the students to realize those ideas.