St. Petersburg campus hires new VP of student affairs

With more than 50 new faculty and 10 new administrators, USF St. Petersburg is beginning to expand its staff, as well as its campus.

In addition, plans for a new student union, a parking garage complex and the building for a new bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble will illustrate USF St. Petersburg’s goals for the future.

Charles Brown, the newly appointed associate vice president of student affairs for the St. Petersburg campus, said these projects are key to making that campus a more well-rounded school for its students.

Brown is slotted to take office Aug. 15.

Wanting to become a high school administrator at first, Brown obtained his bachelor’s degree in education and sociology from Blackburn College in Illinois, in addition to receiving his master’s degree in education administration from Illinois State University.

“I’d planned to be a high school principal but … I didn’t see the commitment to students from the administration and faculty (at that level),” Brown said.

Brown said he then opted to attain his doctorate in philosophy in education with a specialization on higher education administration.

As an administrator, Brown has had plenty of experience in the field of student affairs and academic affairs.

Brown hails from Wayne State University in Detroit, where he worked as vice president of student development and campus life.

Prior to his vice president position, Brown was also an associate professor in the College of Education.

At Wayne, Brown also supervised programs such as the leadership development, housing and residential life, the volunteerism service office and the student union in addition to other programs.

While in the Detroit area, Brown not only oversaw the volunteerism service office, but also was a member of various community-serving groups such as Big Brother-Big Sister and the Meals on Wheels organization, which serves food to the elderly.

Gary Olson, USF St. Petersburg’s interim associate vice president of academic affairs, said the search committee to find a new associate vice president of student affairs was composed of a wide range of people from different constituencies.

“There were faculty members, staff members, students and someone from the community as well who were part of this process,” Olson said.”(What’s more), we did a huge national search where we looked at the most qualified people in the entire country.”

Olson said qualifications for the position included someone who “would provide evidence of progressive leadership in student affairs including strategic planning … and personal development, as well as demonstrate the commitment to promoting diversity,” among other requirements.

“We were very lucky to obtain an extremely experienced associate vice president in Charles Brown,” Olson said. “This is a very important position … we have long-term plans for building a three-phase resident area and (Mr. Brown) would play a major role in that effort.”

Olson said though some institutions might have a struggle between academic affairs and student affairs ,that would not be the case at USF St. Petersburg.

“(Mr. Brown) would work closely with academic affairs,” Olson said. “Charles (Brown) and I are going to work very closely to make sure that students would get a more rounded experience at USF St. Petersburg.”

For the fast-growing student community on that campus, Brown said he would be personally engaged in the St. Petersburg campus awaiting projects, such as the plans to build a resident hall, a new student union and a parking garage.

“I would be very involved in those projects,” said Brown. “I would be working with the administration in terms of planning, coordinating and cost analysis for those projects.”

At Wayne State, the campus community was much larger of an institution than USF St. Petersburg. For Brown, though, the size of the university does not matter.

“The goals that are set for this campus: the double enrollment in five years, to build a Barnes & Noble Bookstore and to build a more visible and more attractive campus life, among other plans, would be attractive to anyone,” Brown said.

Among the search committee to find a new associate vice president were some students whom made quite an impact on Brown’s decision to join the USF family.

“I met students who were very impressive and committed to St. Petersburg,” Brown said. “More than anything, students sold me in terms of their excitement towards what’s going to happen in St. Pete.”

In addition, Brown said the idea of building a partnership with all of the other associate vice presidents also attracted him to the position at USF.

“I was very impressed with the group that (Ralph Wilcox, interim vice president and CEO of the St. Petersburg campus) had put together,” said Brown.

Brown said if all of the current projects for USF St. Petersburg follow through, the campus would look completely different as early as three years.

Stephen Ritch, the current associate vice president of student affairs, decided to step down from his position to teach for the remaining three years before he retires, Olson said.

“I’ve been an educator all of my life,” Brown said. “I really wanted to come to an institution where student affairs are valued.”