On Monday, Trinity University alumna Jamie Thompson will transition from assistant director of Campus and Community Involvement to become the new director of CCI.
She replaces Dr. Raphael Moffett, who left Trinity on Aug. 23 for a position as vice president of Student Affairs at Langston University in Oklahoma. Thompson was offered the position on Monday, Aug. 27, after an internal search that included a series of interviews conducted by the administration and students last week.
Thompson, who is a native of Phoenix, Ariz., earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance and management from Trinity in 2005. She went on to receive her M.S. in higher education administration from the University of Kansas, where she later worked before moving to a position at the University of California, Berkeley.
Thompson returned to Trinity in September 2009 to begin work as a coordinator for Student Affairs, with a particular interest in leadership development. Last summer, Thompson became assistant director of CCI, where she spent more time working with fraternities and sororities on campus.
According to David Tuttle, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, the interview process followed the traditional approach, with Thompson meeting individually with the dean, as well as Michael Fischer, vice president for Academic Affairs, her colleagues in CCI, the broader student affairs staff and a five-member student panel selected by Briana McGlamory, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life.
“She impressed us,” said Joe Moore, one member of the student panel and president of the Association of Student Representatives, who will work closely with Thompson in her role as the co-advisor to ASR. “It was clear that she wants to take the best things she saw in Dr. Moffett and infuse her own personality. That’s why I liked her; she saw the good and wanted to make it her own thing.”
Moore, who took turns questioning Thompson on the role the director plays in Student Affairs and her goals for the position, said the students also entertained a discussion about Thompson’s status as former member of the sorority Gamma Chi Delta but deferred to Thompson for her opinion on the matter.
“I think [my ties to the Greek community] will help to bridge relationships and connect conversations, but I also have to be intentional about distinguishing and separating myself in the instance that requires me to do so,” Thompson said. “I hope the sorority sees me as a resource and an advocate for them, but I haven’t been actively involved with them in a position like alumni advisor, and that was intentional. I want them to know that I’m here, but it’s a balancing act.”
According to Tuttle, the decision to post the vacancy only for internal candidates had much to do with the changing nature of CCI.
“There were two issues at play,” Tuttle said. “First, with the timing of the departures of Dr. Moffett and Ben Newhouse, I just felt like it was important that, if we could have some continuity and some quick continuity in that area, that that mattered. Secondly, Jamie was already in the wings. She had moved from coordinator to a position as assistant director. Had Ben Newhouse become the director, Jamie most likely would have taken on his role, but given both Newhouse and Moffett’s departures, that obviously wasn’t going to happen, and I felt it was important to give Jamie a chance to apply before opening up the search.”
The timing, as it is the beginning of the school year, also played a role.
“If we needed to, we would have gone to a broader search, but it’s cyclical in student affairs, meaning that generally most of the hiring happens in the spring,” Tuttle said. “With it being August we thought it might be difficult. It’s hard to get people unless you’re stealing them from Trinity.”
Thompson was the sole applicant, but Tuttle says her experience and leadership capabilities made her an obvious choice.
“She was the only person to apply, but that’s not surprising because she has the most experience of anyone in CCI,” Tuttle said. “It was natural.”
Tuttle added that Thompson’s past and ties to the Trinity community made her a good candidate.
“The fact that she understands the Trinity culture, having been a student here, she’s going to be able to fill the positions that are open with hopefully limited searches and fill those soon so she can build her own team,” Tuttle said. “I also think it helps that she’s been active since the spring with the Greek issue and the fact that she is a former Gamma and a president of the Gammas should give her credibility with students and alumni alike, and she obviously has credibility with the administration because of her good work. All of that aside, she’s also very professional, poised and a great communicator.”
With the personnel changes, Tuttle says titles and position responsibilities will undergo review.
“We have to review to make sure it’s appropriate to keep both [the associate director position previously held by Ben Newhouse and the assistant director position held by Thompson],” Tuttle said. “When Ben started it was listed as an assistant position, but the title grew along with him. The same thing happened with Thompson. Her position was listed as a coordinator position but later changed to be an assistant position. If we bring in new people, we’ll probably start them, once again, at the lower level.”
Tuttle says that along with the official titles, the nature of the positions might also change.
“We’re looking seriously at putting leadership training with new student orientation,” Tuttle said. “For the position that was Jaime’s it would be a coordinator position so we would look for someone to work with programming and the Student Programming Board. There would probably be a focus on new initiatives for the Skyline Room, and student organization training, as well as spring and fall family weekend planning.”
In the meantime though, Tuttle says Thompson will most likely have to pull “double duty,” handling both the duties of her previous position and her new activities as director.
Thompson says she plans to have an open door policy and hopes students will visit her in the office.
“I think I will now be an advocate for students in another way, in a different way than when I worked with the leadership program,” Thompson said. “In the director role, there’s much more responsibility and obligation to make sure you hear and respect and listen to the student voice. I look forward to hearing more of that voice.”