Student affairs organizational changes announced

Posted By: Ben Rodgers On: 2023-02-15
Posted On: 2023-02-15

Several organizational changes in the student affairs area are taking place, effective immediately. All of the changes below continue to emphasize how we can best serve our students and meet our mission to awaken, nurture, and empower learners to ethical lives of service and leadership.

Ann Merchelwitz, J.D., senior vice president and general counsel, will add student affairs for the undergraduate residential experience to her scope of responsibilities. As a constant presence on campus and at student events, Merchlewitz will be a valuable resource for student affairs and students in Winona. This change will provide an opportunity for Marisa Naryka, Ed.D., to concentrate her work on mission and ministry, as well as adding responsibility for inclusion and human dignity and a focus on the student life experience for our adult students.

Student affairs update

  • Merchlewitz will oversee undergrad student affairs, including the dean of students (who manages campus safety, residence life, and the mailroom), in addition to the R.I.S.E. coordinator, director of club sports, Chartwells, student senate, and health and counseling.
  • Athletics will move under the president, a transition that recognizes the importance of student athletes and the leadership role our athletes play in student life at Saint Mary’s. It also affirms the contributions of our student athletes to our enrollment growth efforts and is a natural transition as Father James Burns, IVD, Ph.D., is the current chair of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (MIAC) and serves on the Division III NCAA President’s and Chancellor’s Advisory Council. Cardinal athletics continues to grow in reputation and impact in the MIAC. Dr. Naryka will continue to support athletics in the transition at the direction of Father Burns and will be in regular contact with athletics for the foreseeable future. Father Burns also looks forward to now being able to engage athletics in the university character initiative directly.
  • The key initiative around co-curricular arts offerings to the full undergrad student body, which moved from academic to co-curricular last year, will continue to be managed by Dr. Naryka, Merchlewitz, and Max Bonilla, SSL, STD, newly appointed provost, who will support this student enriching and critical effort along with Lynette Johnson, recently appointed senior director of arts and events services.

Mission, ministry and inclusion, and human dignity update

  • Dr. Naryka, vice president for mission and ministry, will add responsibility for our inclusion and human dignity efforts with the recent departure of Leon Dixon. Given the initiative is grounded in our Lasallian Catholic mission of respect for the dignity of each person, this alignment is intentional and will help advance the work.
  • Related to mission and ministry, Dr. Naryka will put together a plan and execute it for our adult students in Minneapolis and online. She will be able to devote concentrated time on serving our adult students as a student affairs professional and through mission and ministry offerings, both key to initiative one of our strategic plan. A recent survey of our grad students will inform this work.

The talented and committed people working in student affairs will continue their efforts with our students under the new leadership, and these changes are expected to be as seamless as possible.