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Vice Provost Edmonds gives State of Student Affairs address

In an atmosphere of high-spirited camaraderie, Mary Edmonds, vice provost for student affairs, laid out her vision for the future at her State of Student Affairs address Nov. 20 at Kresge Auditorium.

Edmonds expressed her commitment to developing a stronger relationship between her office and the academic community and to fostering a healthy intellectual and social environment for students.

"It does not seem possible that five years have passed since I stood before you with the first State of Student Affairs presentation," said Edmonds. She described her first year with some amusement, recalling that she had three titles ­ vice president for student resources, vice president for student affairs and, finally, her current title. Her office changed, too ­ from Building 1, to Building 560 and finally to Tresidder Memorial Union. She also recalled that the entire university was in transition when she arrived, with a search for a new president under way, and an interim provost as second in command. Moreover, assuming responsibility for housing and dining services, she said, "doubled my span of control."

Despite the ongoing challenges of increased demands in the face of diminishing resources, Edmonds characterized her fifth year as one of relative stability. A stable senior staff, with no interim deans or directors, has allowed for a "coming together of like minds at the top level over the last year," she said. This is, therefore, a good time, she said, for student affairs to outline its values and goals in its efforts to "best serve faculty and students at Stanford."

Edmonds said one of her office's highest priorities is to support initiatives set forth by President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice to strengthen undergraduate education, particularly the freshman and sophomore years. Edmonds said that while individual units are developing strategic plans, she has formulated her broad vision and core values.

"Our vision statement is as follows: 'Student affairs staff are the enablers of talented students in fulfilling their unique intellectual, personal and professional dreams and passions.' Implied in that statement is the sense that student affairs staff work to support the faculty in developing the 'life of the mind,' " Edmonds said.

She outlined seven core values, which included the beliefs that "students learn best and more fully utilize the resources of the university when they play an active role in shaping their studies and experiences; students learn responsibility when they assume the consequences of their choices in a supportive environment; and that a diverse community has the potential to enhance the learning opportunities for all the individuals within it."

Although Edmonds offered few specifics, she identified her office's two major goals: to strengthen the partnership with the academic community; and to promote academic, personal and professional growth and development of students.

Edmonds' speech was preceded by a recognition ceremony highlighting the contributions of student affairs staffers who have worked for five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. One staff member, Darlene Hickok, was recognized for her work in the financial aid office for 30 years.

"We have experienced many changes during my five years. Those of you who have been here longer have seen many more. We have come a long way, but my sense is that we can stretch out the time of stability. Having a strategic plan that is dynamic, that can direct our decision making, that can help set priorities, and that brings clarity to what we do and what we are about to all of our constituencies will assist us greatly as we partner with the faculty to create the learning communities for our students."

Student Affairs encompasses seven units that include the registrar's office, the office of admissions and financial aid, Cowell Student Health Service, the Haas Center for Public Service, the office of the dean of students, residential education, and housing and dining services.


By Elaine Ray

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