Panel aims to improve education

Senior administrators from the Division of Student Affairs gathered with graduate students of the Rossier School of Education Wednesday night to discuss problems in higher education.

Reflection · Lynette Merriman, the senior associate dean of student relations, discusses higher education at the Rossier School of Education. - Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan

Reflection · Lynette Merriman, the senior associate dean of student relations, discusses higher education at the Rossier School of Education. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan

The panel included Vice Provost of Student Affairs Ainsley Carry; Assistant Provosts of Student Engagement Monique Allard, Lynette Merriman and Tim Bessolo; Director of Student Counseling Services Ilene Rosenstein and Executive Director of the Career Center Carl Martellino.

“We decided to co-host the event in order to look at higher education issues and learn from people like Dr. Carry who have experience and can prepare us as we go into the field,” said Leslie Quinto, president of the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs Network, a student-run organization promoting graduate studies in that field.

The panelists shared their different responsibilities in the Student Affairs department, as well as goals they have for the program. Carry outlined his goals for the program since the recent restructuring of the Student Affairs governing body.

Carry said his current priorities include making improvements to the student health and wellness, student engagement and student support and advocacy divisions, as well as improving financial stewardship.

“We’re moving towards an era where every dime matters,” Carry said.

Panelists also discussed the career paths that led them to their current positions. Sarah Ruelas, a first-year graduate student in the PASA program felt she benefited from hearing about the panelists’ past experiences.

“It was interesting to hear their career paths because this is what we are studying so it was cool to see how they came to where they are now,” Ruelas said.

Members of the panel, however, highlighted how the field of higher education is rapidly changing and discussed today’s graduate students might need to make adjustments to their career paths in order to keep up with these adaptations.

Carry spoke about how the federal conversation about affordability of college tuition is changing higher education. Though keeping tuition costs low is great, this also means fewer administrators, he said.

“We need to think of innovative ways to serve the student population rather than just throwing money at it,” Carry said.

Panelists shared advice with graduate students on how to succeed in today’s world of higher education, with all the changes that the field is undergoing. One skill set that all panelists agreed is crucial is networking.

“Professionals always talk about networking but I felt that they gave us ways to network in more a human and genuine approach,” said Andrew Barton, a first-year PASA student.

This event marked the first time PASA and SiHEC partnered with Student Affairs administration. Due to the event’s success, Tim Khuu, secretary and historian for the PASA Network, said he hopes student organizations will continue to utilize these resources.

“I was surprised that the administration was so accessible and transparent,” he said. “They really have a vision for USC and we should continue to collaborate with administrators and to hear their thoughts.”


Follow us on Twitter @dailytrojan