UF Student Affairs and Athletics divisions revamp for the spring

Staff in both the Student Affairs Division and the Division of Athletics undergo restructures

By Lauren Wolters

woltersl1@findlay.edu

Word count: 894 words

As the spring semester ramps up, the University of Findlay’s Division of Student Affairs and Athletics Department adjusts to some restructuring. In an email interview, Brandi Laurita, Vice President of Student Affairs and Director of Athletics, explained how both divisions will be preparing for various changes this semester.

“The new position has allowed me to interact with students outside of athletics, and this is wonderful,” Laurita said. “I am learning a lot from them; their experiences and I will continue to gain knowledge from them.”

Student Affairs is divided into several areas. The first area is Student Engagement which is led by Chris Sippel, Associate Vice President for Student Engagement. The Buford Center, International Education, Intercultural Student Services, and Service and Community Engagement all fall into this division of Student Affairs. The second area is Student Life which is led by John Ferraro, Associate Vice President for Student Life. Student life includes Dining Services, Facilities and Scheduling events, Greek Life, Housing, and Recreational Services.

In addition to this change in the Student Affairs division, UF Athletics will also be restructuring their staff. UF’s Athletic Department serves more than 700 student-athletes. Laurita proceeded to mention how the Athletic Department is managing the restructure.

“The Division of Athletics and the administrative restructure is occurring but slowly as not all of the pieces are in place for a full change of duty,” Laurita said. “The athletics staff is working hard, learning on the fly, and making magic happen as they have always done. New roles and duties will only enhance that.”

“We will continue to work on time management, making sure all areas get what they need but I am confident, both short and long term, this will be positive for both divisions,” Laurita said.

In the Division of Athletics, Laurita handed over day-to-day operations and staff oversight to Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Jim Givens, who has been in the UF Division of Athletics for 24 years.

Additionally, other staff members have expanded responsibilities in the division.

David Buck will be transitioning into the role of Associate Director of Athletics. Buck has 19 years of athletic communications experience. In this role, he will head up business operations such as tickets, concessions, scheduling and contract negotiations, and NCAA Compliance.

Kyle Niermann, the Assistant Director of Athletics for External Affairs, will oversee athletic communications which includes digital media, branding, graphic design, and marketing. He has been at UF since 2013 and will continue to cover game day events and provide accurate statistical information.

Fiona Hanks, the Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine manages and organizes the care program for UF’s student-athletes. Hanks has been in UF athletics for 22 years. In the restructuring she will have a direct oversight of athletic training and conditioning staff.

The Division of Athletics hopes to hire a new full-time athletic trainer for their staff. The department also hopes to create a new position: Director of Digital Strategy and Creative Content. This position will create video content for UF athletics, public service announcements, student-athlete features, and printed materials.

 “Moves like this often create some confusion but in athletics we are all put into situations that make us react and often times [we are] judged by how we react,” Givens said. “Our Athletic team has always been one that thrives on this as well as having the commitment to make things as positive as they can be for all of our constituents, especially our student-athletes.”

Givens said that the staff is not concerned about the title or role changes that are occurring in the Division of Athletics.

“Not one of us, including Brandi, has ever really been concerned with what title is below our name,” Givens said. “We all have the same vision and strive to be diligent in the pursuit of providing that championship experience through a personal approach for all of our student athletes and staff.”

The Division of Athletics staff feel prepared to take on new challenges amid this transition.

“Challenges and change will forever be present in athletics and our team expects them every day,” Givens said. “We are not afraid. We are prepared, and we will not let those who count on us down. This change, understandably large in scope to many, is one we embrace and one that will make us all more efficient, more diligent, and more excited to assist one another.”

A current challenge facing the university and the Division of Athletics is the pandemic. Laurita explained how the department stays current and compliant with local, state, and federal regulations while also keeping student experience in mind.

Laurita, Givens, and the rest of the Student Affairs and Athletics staff have much to learn and adapt to this semester, but they are excited for the transition.

“I have so much to learn about policy, procedure, [and] culture in student affairs, but [I] am excited to be a sponge of the highly trained, devoted, and passionate staff,” Laurita said.

“We will not allow our people to fail,” Givens said. “We will not allow our people to deny challenge. We will not allow negative energy. We will not allow change to be adverse. We will, however, make someone’s day better each and every day. That is what our team is about in UF Athletics, and we are all proud to serve this institution together.”

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