Student success, community engagement and Buckeye pride are all sentiments the new Student Life vice president hopes to promote.
The Office of Student Life at Ohio State has found a new vice president in Melissa Shivers, who will assume her post Jan. 6, pending Board of Trustees approval announced Wednesday, according to an Ohio State press release. Shivers, who comes from a similar role at the University of Iowa, said her goals upon arrival are to support student life and its engagement within the student body, as she continues to learn about the departments within the office.
According to the release, Shivers will oversee more than 35 departments, including recreational sports, housing and dining, parent and family relations, fraternities and sororities, mental health and career counseling, student conduct, student activities, off campus and commuter student services and student advocacy.
Shivers is currently employed at Iowa as vice president for Student Life and worked previously as assistant vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor and dean of students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, according to the release. During her time at Iowa, Shivers focused on initiatives related to the health, safety and well-being of students, according to the release.
“Melissa brings the experience and leadership to help us take the Buckeye student experience to new heights,” University President Michael V. Drake said in the release. “Her skills and deep understanding of student life will ensure that Ohio State continues to be a national model in this area.”
Shivers will fill former Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston’s shoes, who held the position for a decade, according to Ohio State’s website. Adams-Gaston left Ohio State in June to become president of Norfolk State University in Virginia.
Shivers said Adams-Gaston, often known as “Dr. J,” is known nationally for her work within student life and her commitment to students, and Shivers did not anticipate taking her place.
“When I received an email that she was leaving, honest to goodness, my first statement was, ‘Phew, I feel bad for the person that’s going to follow Dr. J,’” Shivers said. “It feels like a gift to me to be able to extend and continue doing some of the great work that Dr. J started and set as a huge foundation.”
Shivers said she is most excited to connect with students and learn about their needs as she joins the Ohio State community.
“I find that my energy comes from my opportunities to engage with students to support students in all the ways as they transition to a college campus and as they prepare to become alumni,” Shivers said. “Learning about what all of those opportunities are is really exciting and invigorating for me.”
Shivers also said she is ready to listen to the needs of students and campus partners to address campus issues.
“A big part of my job and responsibility will be to be a really good listener,” Shivers said. “Working really hard to understand all of the issues and the concerns that may currently exist, and then working with the campus and campus partners to think really thoughtfully about the ways that we can address any issues or concerns or, more importantly, to think about how we elevate and amplify some of the already really good work that’s happening there.”
She said she hopes to destigmatize self-help and mental health resources, but will have a more definitive vision when she arrives on campus.