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MU welcomes new VP of Student Affairs

By Emily C. Tate
On February 21, 2014

Beginning March 1, Miami University will welcome the new Vice President of Student Affairs Jayne Brownell to campus.

Brownell was one of many highly-qualified candidates seeking this position, President David Hodge said. By November, the university's selection committee narrowed it down to the final two candidates, who were invited to Miami's campus.

"Jayne proved to be the one who resonated best with people across the campus: students, staff, faculty and administration," Hodge said. "Everyone found her to be open, caring and engaging."

Brownell's finesse for connecting with Miamians at all levels will come into play as she transitions to the new environment and begins to employ some of her own methods.

"I want to create more of a community on campus, so when different departments have an opportunity to collaborate, they will," she said. "For example, leadership and Greek life or service opportunities in the residence halls."

Brownell has held positions at several reputable institutions, including Columbia University, the University of Michigan and most recently Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y.

During her seven years at Hofstra, she managed to accomplish many of the goals she had set for herself.

"While I was there, I revamped their advising system, I started a newly integrated disability office, I started their family and parent program and I worked very closely on hosting two presidential debates," she said. "I'm very proud of [the debates], that was a very big deal for me."

From a more comprehensive approach, Brownell also managed to unify the campus at Hofstra. She was able to link several disconnected offices into a more unified division of student affairs.

"She has a fine record of tackling challenging issues by working collaboratively with people inside student affairs and across the university," Hodge said. "She is a super-strategic thinker and team builder."

Brownell said the results she saw at Hofstra, and has seen in previous positions, are what drove her into this particular field.

"I love students," she said. "They grow, change and develop throughout their four years and I love being a part of that and feeling like I can impact that as they figure out who they are. I believe that is a gift."

Brownell said she understands there will be challenges during her time at Miami, but one she expects to be particularly difficult is being patient and reining in the desire to hit the ground running.

"There is always an [impulse] to run in and start doing," she said. "I need to take the time to plan and be intentional and do things right the first time."

Similarly, Brownell said her primary goal at the outset of her new position is to listen to students, staff and faculty alike.

"I need to learn about what they think is going very well, where things can improve, where there are frustrations and learn to act from there," she said. "The spring semester will be mostly listening, then plan from there. I don't want to walk in the door and assume what should be done."

Based on what she has seen and heard of Miami, Brownell said she perceives a fast-paced, passionate student body on a vibrant college campus, where so much is already happening all of the time.

"I haven't even started yet and people have [already] been so welcome in including me in the community," she said. "I have been so impressed with the energy around Miami and I think it is going to be a fabulous place to work."

Brownell also said while she has high hopes for the progress she can launch on campus, she knows that this university is already in excellent condition. She aims, instead, to expound on the solid foundation of Miami University and improve upon the areas that still warrant some change.

Hodge, along with the rest of the Miami faculty, said he is excited to have Brownell at Miami and looks forward to having her join our community.

In the coming weeks, Brownell will be moving from her current residence in New York to her new home in Oxford. Her first day with the university will be Monday, March 3.


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