Associate Vice Chancellor Kris Racina acts as interim dean of students

Megan Bennett / Sun Star

Since the middle of May, Kris Racina has been acting as Interim Dean of Student for UAF.

At a town hall meeting on Oct. 21, Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga said that there was a Dean of Students working for UAF, though it is not listed on the UAF Dean of Students’ webpage or elsewhere.

Racina took on the role of Dean of Students after the retirement of previous dean of students, Don Foley. In conjunction with her responsibilities as Interim Dean of students, she still acts as Associate Vice Chancellor.

As associate vice chancellor, her role was to supervise and support various departments within the university, including veteran services, health and counseling, the admissions office, the office of the registrar, the Wood Center, and the disability office.

The Dean of Students has an essential role in the judicial proceedings of student misconduct cases. The Dean is responsible for deciding upon and implementing disciplinary measures to violators of the student code of conduct. Penalties can range from a warning to removal from residence halls, suspension, expulsion, or an arrest.

“I have put my focus on acting as Dean of Students for the last several months”, Racina said. “With such a great staff, I am able to devote a lot of time to Title IX and things of that nature.”

The role is Dean of Students is more than a position; it’s an office, according to Sfraga. The roles and responsibilities of the dean fall on everyone working in the Dean of Students office.

The Dean of Students office is currently putting together a process improvement software to create a better way to transfer knowledge between departments. Racina said that a challenge with large institutions is ensuring that case files are available between departments and in this way the university had been lacking.

In the past, if there was an issue or case of misconduct in one department, it was dealt with internally and would sometimes get lost because the progression of that case would fully be dependent on only one department carrying out that case appropriately. This was the main issue with the five mishandled sexual misconduct cases, according to Racina.

Now, the university is connecting all departments, including Residence Life, the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity, the Dean of Students and the police department, with Title IX responsibilities.

“We all share information and have a consistent, institutionalized way to hand things off to the next department, who is responsible for picking the cases up,” Racina said.

This ensures that if a Title IX violation occurs, the case will be transferred over to the Title IX staff in the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity. During this process the Dean of Students will  always be informed of progress, so the case will not get lost because only one department had full access to and responsibility for it, Racina said.

Another improvement the Dean of Students plans to implement is a calendaring system where reminders will be sent out to stay up to date on the progress of cases.

“Software is not a be-all do-all; It’s as good as the person running it,” Racina said. “But it’s the best system we’ve ever had before.”

While acting as Interim Dean of Students, Racina is placing her focus on a better filing system, an improved way to track files, and staying updated on existing cases. Racina is also the head of the hiring committee to look for someone to fill the permanent position.

Thought the university is actively recruiting for a contract Dean of Students, they have put a momentary halt on filing the position permanently, Sfraga said.

A contract Dean of Students is someone who is will take the position as Dean of Students under a contract from three months up to six months.

According to Marmian Grimes, UAF spokeswoman, the advantage of recruiting a contract Dean of Students is that their temporary experience in the position can benefit the university by providing feedback on their internal systems for dealing with cases from an outside perspective.

In the search for a contract Dean of Student, the hiring committee have high expectations for the potential candidates. Sfraga said that the current candidates for the position are past deans and vice chancellors that have a wealth of experience and want to be involved on campus.

The university is looking for a person who is engaged in the student body and events on campus so when the time comes, UAF can possibly transition the candidate into the full-time, permanent position as Dean of student, Sfraga said.

“After input from the contract Dean of Students then we will take our finger off pause and continue the search for someone to fill DOS as a permanent position,” said Sfraga.

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