I'm back. Elyse is back with another interview, this time with Laura Kiralla, Vice President for Student Success and Dean of Student Affairs, I asked her about herself and how she see's herself not only at Otis but how she see's Otis changing.
LK: My title is: Vice President for Student Success and Dean of Student Affairs. I oversee two areas of the College – 1) Enrollment Management which includes leadership of Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration, Institutional Research, and the Center for International Education. 2) Student Affairs which includes leadership of the Center for Creative Professions, Student Counseling Services, Conduct Administration, Tutoring and Academic Support, Students with Disabilities Services, Residential Life and Housing, Student Activities, and Student Health and Wellness.
EC: What is your philosophy towards students, and how do you deal with a problem?
LK: I believe that all Otis students have the right to:
· A good and challenging educational experience.
· To be supported by college activities and programs in all aspects of your college experience.
· To receive help in applying your Otis experience to your future beyond Otis.
· To be treated with respect as an adult.
With these rights students have a responsibility to:
· Be an active community member to keep Otis safe.
· Read and follow-up on all official Otis business.
· Be engaged and speak up.
· Adhere to the Code of Student Conduct.
Depending on the specific problem, I work with my staff and the Otis community to find a quick resolution to whatever is occurring,
EC: What can you do for students even if they don't have any problems with the school?
LK: I oversee many areas of the College that provide students with co-curricular support and learning outside the classroom. I hope all Otis students take time to engage fully in all that the College has to offer.
EC: Do you ever feel hindered in your work?
LK: Never! Working at Otis is a gift and I appreciate deeply the hard work and sacrifices Otis students make in fulfillment of their education.
EC: I've heard you referred to as the "keeper of peace" or the "person who makes it better", would you agree to yhis title?
LK: I am humbled by these titles – thank you! My goal each day when I arrive to Otis it to make sure that any student who has a struggle or is in need of help is given an opportunity to be heard.
EC: Would you consider yourself like a "parent" to the students?
LK: I wear many different hats when it comes to working with students. I would never take on a “parental” role but rather at times I view myself as a care taker for student. For example when a student has just found out that a loved one has passed away. In the moment, I try to be a comforting support to help the student move forward.
EC: How is your role going to change now that the school is changing?
My role is only going to get better! I am excited for all the great new resources and services developing at Otis, specifically the new Health Center.
EC: Do you have any ideas of bringing the school together as a creative community?
LK: My hope is with the new outdoor “commons” area that students will be engaged in more social and recreational activities but we need more student leaders willing to step-up and share their time and talent with their peers.
EC: Do you know exactly why the fashion campus is moving here? Is it just economics or is it an attempt to bring them more into the mix of the school as a community?
LK: The College did a thorough job in determining the best location for Fashion based on economics but as a result of the move I do feel that Fashion students will be engaged in the College community in a deeper way.
EC: Why do you think Otis started as an art institute but has now evolved into a more design based school?
LK: I would ask this question of someone who has worked at Otis longer, perhaps Randy Lavender – the Provost.
EC: Why do you think that people don't communicate at Otis, people seem to only be into their major and never really get involved with any other than their majors.
LK: I think that space has a lot to do with human behavior. As I shared above, with the campus expansion specifically the new dining hall and outdoor spaces, I expect that more students will be engaging across their academic majors.
EC: Do you think that having a meal plan will actually help draw more students to hang out on campus?
LK: Yes, a meal plan will help create community within the new Residential Hall. The College is interested in students leaving their room and socialize with each other. It will also give commuters, faculty, and staff an opportunity to dine with each other.
EC: Finally, do you choose the students that are able to go to Otis? If so, on what basis is your selection process?
LK: No, the Admissions office chooses who is admitted into the College. If you would like to learn more I encourage you to interview our new Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid – Matthew Gallagher.