Passing the baton: Emsweller makes the hand off to Laurita

Laurita to stay in the Athletics Department while taking on VP of Student Affairs role

By Lauren Wolters 

As Dave Emsweller prepares for his retirement as the Vice President of Student Affairs at the University of Findlay, Brandi Laurita, UF’s Director of Athletics, prepares to take his place. 

“Dave Emsweller is leaving a large pair of shoes to fill,” Laurita said. “His impact on campus and the students he has served is wide reaching. I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough to Dave for his leadership, mentorship, and friendship that have helped prepare me for this position. 

President Katherine Fell, the UF cabinet, and the board of trustees after much discussion approved Laurita to succeed Dave Emsweller as the VP of Student Affairs. Laurita’s extensive knowledge of UF and leadership experience in athletics made her a frontrunner for the position. After the position was approved by the full cabinet and board of trustees, UF publicly announced that Laurita would be filling Emsweller’s role. 

“I feel very good about it. I feel as though I’m leaving everything in very good hands and that she’s going to take things in a really great direction,” Emsweller said.

Laurita explained why she feels this new position is a good fit for her. 

“I have a passion for impacting students’ lives and a love for the University of Findlay,” Laurita said. “I have worked hand in hand with the division of Student Affairs as the Director of Athletics, and it was a great opportunity presented to me to take on an expanded leadership role. This was not a position that I had a plan to move into, but some of the best opportunities you encounter are pleasant surprises.” 

Laurita is anticipating a smooth transition into her new role. 

“The Division of Student Affairs has a strong staff of professionals who will help make this transition as seamless as possible,” Laurita said. “I will be working with each Associate Vice President to listen, learn and begin to shape our plan to move the division forward. I will also continue to serve in the role as Director of Athletics and again with a strong staff and restructure in this division this will allow for success to continue.” 

This restructuring that Laurita mentioned involves giving her typical day-to-day operations as the Director of Athletics to the Senior Associate Athletic Director, Jim Givens. Laurita added that three other members in the Department of Athletics were promoted, and the addition of staff will help athletics continue to be successful. 

Besides the restructuring of the Athletics Department, there will also be a restructuring of the duties associated with the VP of Student Affairs. Laurita and Emsweller will be meeting regularly throughout the month of December to focus on the different topics the VP of Student Affairs will be responsible for. Redistributing some of Emsweller’s former duties will be a topic of discussion in Laurita and Emsweller’s December meetings. 

One example of this restructuring is their plan to have the Title IX Coordinator, Skylar Mettert oversee the Emergency Operations team. This used to be a part of Emsweller’s VP duties, but now will be restructured and distributed to Mettert. 

Additionally, Emsweller’s duties with Enrollment Management are going to be given to an outside consultant. 

“He’s been working with us, and he’s just going to be more involved and more regularly engaged on campus to work with people,” Emsweller said. “Brandi won’t be working in any of those areas. There are certain people who are already part of UF that are going to take on some new and different responsibilities to make it more manageable for her position.” 

Laurita described some of the challenges she foresees as the new VP of Student Affairs. 

“I have a lot to learn, Laurita said. “I must focus on the compliance and governing bodies to make sure to keep the university in good standing and make strategic decisions that will allow for future growth. I will also be maintaining my current role as AD so managing, delegating, and letting go will be a challenge for me.” 

While there are bound to be some challenges as Laurita steps into this new role, she is excited for the opportunity to work with UF staff, professionals, and students more directly and beyond just athletics. 

Emsweller plans to assist Laurita and UF during the transition process. Post-retirement he and his wife will travel to Montreal, Canada for the first half of 2022. He hopes to do some part time consulting for Student Affairs and related matters remotely during that time. 

Like Laurita, Emsweller is excited about the transition process and the future of UF. 

“I actually feel very good about how the transition is going to be,” Emsweller said. “Brandi has been here a long time. She and I have worked closely together for many years. She’s very committed to students, and she understands student affairs extremely well. I am really sort of excited about this.” 

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