Trio Vies for Top Student Life slot

    To administrators, acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff was their voice against student media run amok. To students, Ratcliff was the bane of free speech and student rights.

    Throughout negotiations between students and administrators to revive Student-Run Television’s signal — cut off after the station broadcast pornographic material — Ratcliff kept a hardline stance against allowing indecent material on the channel. Administrators, Ratcliff said, would not budge on the issue since SRTV’s carrier, the university-owned Triton Cable, was a campus department that had to play by administrators’ rules.

    Now Ratcliff, who took over the position last July after former Vice Chancellor of Student Life Carmen Vazquez vacated the position, is one of three candidates in a race for the head spot.

    The Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Search Committee met last week to evaluate the candidates running for the position and submit its evaluations of the candidates for Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson to review.

    Watson will ultimately be responsible for selecting the next assistant vice chancellor of student life, but he will base his decision largely on the search committee’s report.

    There are two other applicants for the position: Bill Ponder, the current vice president of Student Affairs at Eastern Washington University, and Sam Bersola, the chief operations officer for the University Housing and Dining Services at UC Santa Cruz.

    University officials said that while the candidates’ names were made public, they would not release contact information about Bersola or Ponder, calling it private.

    All three candidates graduated with academic and scholastic honors and come with extensive professional backgrounds in education administration.

    Although Watson received the committee’s report on June 2, it may take a while for a new assistant vice chancellor to be announced. Using the feedback he receives, Watson will review the candidates and their evaluations, make an offer and allow time for negotiation over issues like salary and start date.

    “I am pleased with the pool of candidates and hope to reach a decision and begin negotiations with the top candidates soon after I receive the search committee’s evaluations and report,” Watson stated in an e-mail. “It is not possible to set a more specific time frame at this time.”

    Watson said that he hopes the new associate vice chancellor of student life can be officially instated by August. According to the chair of the search committee, Ashanti Hands, an electronic announcement will be circulated throughout the campus when the decision is finalized and the candidate accepts the offer.

    “I hope to appoint an individual who will be innovative and collaborative in enhancing the quality of student life, both for undergraduate and graduate students, by means of a wide range of programs and activities,” Watson said.

    Open forum sessions were scheduled during the candidates’ official interviews.

    The forums provided students, staff and faculty with the opportunity to ask questions and meet the potential assistant vice chancellors. The candidates’ resumes are posted online, allowing anyone interested in their backgrounds to read through their lists of accomplishments and honors.

    Ratcliff has been working at UCSD since 2000. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in higher education from Pennsylvania State University.

    He has been working in education for over 20 years, and said that his last position at the University of Montana encompassed the same responsibilities that he would enjoy holding as the assistant vice chancellor of Student Life at UCSD.

    “It’s an opportunity to have a greater impact on improving student life,” Ratcliff said. “I take a lot of satisfaction from working with student leaders.”

    During his six years at UCSD, Ratcliff has worked closely with students from Student Organizations and Leadership Opportunities, served as the chair for UC Advisory Board and has continually pushed for incorporating student input into new initiatives.

    “I’m very much a believer in doing a lot of surveys of students, to find out what they want,” Ratcliff said.

    However, Interim Revelle College Senior Senator Rachel Corell, who worked with Ratcliff on the SRTV charter and “acceptable use policy,” cited concerns about his ability to take student suggestions to heart and emphasized the need for the right person to fill the position.

    “He’s very willing to listen to suggestions, but he doesn’t implement them,” she said. “We need someone strong who will voice [students’] opinions and implement changes even if there’s a struggle.”

    She also highlighted the need for the new assistant vice chancellor to recognize the importance of the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction Report, which was released by a committee last fall with suggestions to improve campus life.

    Ratcliff said he also hopes to boost student involvement by eliminating bureaucratic issues through greater online availability of essential forms and training sessions for student leaders.

    He wants to see the creation of the Student-Org One-Stop Center, which will allow students to find everything they need to run an organization — even funding requests — online.

    “I’m really into how we can use technology to make students’ lives easier,” Ratcliff said. “I want to help students who want to get involved in activities outside of the classroom. I want to save them time, because that’s more time they can spend on their activities.”

    Over the last few years, Ratcliff has tried to make Price Center more accessible to students.

    He pushed for renovations on the second floor so that the Food Co-op, Shogun and the Game Room would be open, and he worked on decorating Sun God Lounge so that it artistically displays information about UCSD traditions.

    Since 2001, he has been working on the plans for the Price Center expansion.

    “This is my opportunity to see a major undertaking in completion,” Ratcliff said, citing the expansion as one of the main reasons he would like to hold the position. “I’ve worked here for six years, so I’m very much attuned to the campus.”

    Readers can contact Molly Crystal at [email protected].

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