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First candidate for VP of Student Affairs makes his case

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Ricardo Hall, one of three candidates for the position of vice president for student affairs, gave a brief presentation to a packed conference room Wednesday morning at the new Living Learning Center.

Hall is currently the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Miami. Speaking on what his role would be as vice president for student affairs at Ohio, Hall gave a presentation explaining what transformation means to him and what the Office of Student Affairs should do to catalyze it.

The presentation was open for students and faculty to attend and provide feedback. Evaluation forms were passed out to the audience.

Hall is an Ohio University alumnus, obtaining both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Hall has over 20 years of student affairs experience from his work at Wake Forest in North Carolina, Clemson University in South Carolina and now the University of Miami in Florida, where he arrived in 2006.

Hall said he is a firm believer in direct communication with students. He believes it is important to engage with students on a one-on-one level and really make a connection with them. Furthermore, Hall believes big change can come from small gestures.

To illustrate this, Hall told a story of his time at the University of Miami. He discussed his handling of someone who was frequently popping up on his misconduct list, a student he called a “legendary troublemaker.”

Hall brought the student to his office and had a candid discussion about education, job opportunities and the student’s love of the university. He said they talked about how important it is to represent yourself in a positive light, and when they talked about how companies really vet their candidates, the student seemed to agree. So Hall turned on his computer to a picture of the student, standing nude wearing nothing but a “carefully placed dollar bill.”

Hall said he made it perfectly clear to the student he had no interest in getting the student in trouble. He simply asked, “If I have this picture, what do you think the chances are that others have it too?”

According to Hall, the very embarrassed student “couldn’t say ‘Bye’ fast enough,” but he also learned from Hall’s message. Hall never saw him on the misconduct list again.

It was easy for Hall to relate that experience to Ohio University. All he had to do was display a photo of an OU student with a pool in his dorm room.

Hall believes that the conversation was a transformation point for that student. He said transformation isn’t always “grand” but usually gradual and incremental. According to Hall, people at the university might not even notice the transformation.

“But parents see it,” he said. “(Students) come home for break and (parents) say, ‘Something’s different about you. Oh yeah, you gained 10 pounds,’” he joked, “No, actually they say ‘Wow, your personality has really changed; you’ve really grown.’”

Another way of creating transformation, Hall explained, is through campus recreation. Hall said one of the more influential moments of his time as a student at Ohio University was playing basketball with one of his professors. It is because of that experience that Hall, a self-proclaimed racquetballer, now challenges all of his students at Miami to play him in racquetball. If they win, he buys them lunch.

“I’ve never bought lunch for a student before,” he quickly added jokingly.

Hall stressed that college provides different types of “transformation” to different people, and that there is no set form.

“It might be, ‘Will I have all the knowledge I need after four years to be successful?’, or ‘Will I be able to graduate to a job with a salary of $40 or $50 thousand after being poor my entire life?’ or ‘Will I come here and find a life partner?’”Hall said.

He continued to explain that he believes that transformation during the college process really depends on how a student wants to transform themselves.

After his presentation on fostering transformation through student affairs, Hall took a few questions from the audience.

One person asked how he would work to improve branch campuses. Hall said he felt it important for the main campus to set an example and to create a similar environment at branch campuses. To help achieve this, he feels that the Office of Student Affairs should play a large role.

“We should be ready, willing and able to get out there and spread the gospel,” Hall said, referring to the culture of the Athens campus.

He further explained that if hired, he would regularly visit branch campuses in an effort to further engage them and model them after the Athens campus.

When asked about his interest in the position and why he hadn’t applied when the position had been open in past years, Hall explained that while he was aware of the three openings for the same position in the past, he felt that the timing wasn’t right. He said he wasn’t fully prepared to take on the responsibility of that position.

He also reflected on his newfound interest in “bringing change and positivity” to places that have impacted him.

“I strongly believe that the time is right, my skills and experience are right for the position, and I would be a strong employee for my alma mater,” he said.

David Parrott of Texas A&M University, another candidate for the position, is expected to give the next presentation on March 7.

The selected candidate is expected to be announced before the end of the spring semester.

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