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Office re-organized; Pendergrass named dean

By Clara B. Cox and Jeanne Brunson

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 33 - June 18, 1998

In a move to address several new priorities for the Division of Student Affairs, Landrum Cross, vice president for Student Affairs, has re-organized the Dean of Students Office, re-assigning the top three people in the office to new positions.
Cathryn (Goree) Turrentine, dean of students since 1995, has been named director of planning and assessment for the division; Barbara J. Pendergrass, associate dean of students since 1995, has been appointed dean of students; and Tom Brown, assistant dean of students since 1994, has been promoted to associate dean of students. The changes become effective July 1.
According to Cross, Turrentine will focus on two division priorities: create a comprehensive assessment program for the division and develop alternate sources of funding, including private giving and grants. Pendergrass, he said, "will provide leadership to make this campus welcoming for all students," another division priority.
"The mission of the Dean of Students Office will be re-focused on campus climate and student advocacy. Orientation, family programs, multi-cultural programs, services for students with disabilities, student advocacy, and emergency response will continue in the Dean of Students Office, and Project SAFE will be added," Cross said. The addition of Project SAFE (Sexual Assault Facts and Education) is another priority for the division.
Cross also reassigned judicial affairs to Ed Spencer, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, and reassigned the golf course to Recreational Sports.
In her new role, Turrentine will initiate planning and policy development for the division, coordinate assessments of outcomes and environments, conduct cross-cutting assessments of student life, write grant proposals, and manage the division's efforts to acquire grant funding. Her office will be located in 112 Burruss, where the division office will move later this summer.
Pendergrass said she does not anticipate any major structural changes in the Dean of Students Office. "One thing this office has is a wonderful staff which is very dedicated to the students and to Virginia Tech," she said. In keeping with her goal of fostering a positive climate for all, she said she will continue with efforts to create collaboration with other departments and strengthen partnerships between academic and student affairs.
"I believe that everyone has a role to play in creating the type of climate that we want reflected in this community. We all are here because of students, and we all have a responsibility to make sure that they get the best experience that we are capable of providing," Pendergrass said.
One new initiative for the office, which will engage faculty and staff members, administrators, and students in working together to address campus-climate concerns, is the Multicultural Fellow Program, a collaborative effort between the Dean of Students Office and the Department of Political Science. The program, supported by funds from the Provost's Office, "will bring people together who have an interest in helping the university develop programs that promote recognition and inclusiveness of all groups," Pendergrass said.
Turrentine, who holds a Ph.D. in student development in higher education from Mississippi State University, was director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education and associate and assistant director of admissions, all at Mississippi State, before coming to Virginia Tech. During her tenure as dean of students, she has also been an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies.
Pendergrass holds an Ed.D in counselor education from Virginia Tech. She served as assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, staff counselor, and counselor for minority students before joining the Dean of Students Office.
During his tenure at Virginia Tech, Brown has been assistant director of the Alumni Association; executive assistant to the vice provost, Virginia Cooperative Extension Service; and an Extension agent. He holds a master's degree in administration and supervision from the University of Virginia.
In a memo to his staff, Cross asked for their "cooperation and energy as we re-focus our work in the coming year," and said he looks "forward to the new opportunities that these changes will bring."