Larry Lunsford was recently appointed vice president of Student Affairs, overseeing 25 departments within the division.
He had been serving as interim vice president since August of 2012 and had made strategic appointments such as FIU’s first Dean of Students, and the first full-time associate director of Multicultural Programs and Services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer, Allies (LGBTQA) Initiatives. Under his leadership, the division secured a $1 million planned gift for LGBTQA programs and initiated the first intramural leagues in residence halls, as well as established collaborative efforts with faculty from all colleges and schools who deal with disruptive and distressed students.
Lunsford joined FIU as director of Student Activities in 1989 and remained in that position until 1996 when he was appointed associate dean of Student Life. In 2000, he became assistant vice president of Student Affairs and was promoted to associate vice president for Student Affairs in 2004. Since 1998, he has cared for and supported the students in the role of University Ombudsman. He continues to serve as adjunct instructor in the College of Arts and as assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and Professional Studies in the College of Education.
He received a bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Tennessee, a master’s in College Student Personnel Administration from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Of Lunsford’s appointment, Provost Wartzok said in his announcement, “I appointed Dr. Lunsford as Vice President in recognition of his ambitious vision for our student services, his proven leadership skills, and his commitment linking Student Affairs to Academic Affairs to advance the university’s overarching goal of enhancing student success and graduation.”
Q&A with Larry Lunsford
What is your role as vice president of student affairs at FIU?
Besides overseeing the entire division, which consists of 25 departments, I see my role and that of the entire division as one that not only provides student services, but also serves as an advocate for students.
What does this promotion mean to you?
It means a lot. It’s hard to even put into words. The topic of my dissertation was exactly how to become a vice president for student affairs. Part of my research included a survey of nearly 160 vice presidents who offered insight on how they got there, and throughout my career I followed their advice. A lot of people don’t get to reach their career goal, but I can now look back and say I made it.
How does student affairs play a role in the success of students and alumni?
I have a strong philosophy that what goes on outside the classroom is as important as what goes on in the classroom. Studies show that students who live on campus or are active on campus are more likely to graduate, and they come back and support their alma mater physically and financially. So, our goal is to educate the entire person. They get the academic and the professional education in the classroom, but we teach leadership, communication and social skills that are necessary for them to be successful in their career and even outside the workplace.
What is your advice to students who want to enhance their college experience?
Two things. The first is to get involved in a club, organization or Student Government Association. We have more than 300 registered clubs on both campuses, approximately 37 fraternities and sororities, more than 30 honor societies, a dozen religious groups, and student media. If we don’t have it, the students can start it with 10 members, a constitution — which we can help you with — and an adviser. The second is to participate in off-campus activities like alternative Breaks or a community service program. I believe that an important part of a college education is to go out and pay forward the opportunity that you’ve been given by being a role model for someone else.
What are your top priorities for the Fall 2013 semester?
To continue what we’ve begun. Our top priorities are to grow our Greek system, increase campus life involvement, and continue to expand residential life, but those are just the first steps in taking Student Affairs to the next level.