President Mark B. Rosenberg and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton shared the following message with the university community on Friday, June 29, 2018:
In anticipation of Dr. Larry Lunsford’s retirement this December, we have begun a transition plan for the future of student affairs. The changing landscape of higher education makes it imperative to deepen our focus on student learning and success, both in and out of the classroom. Indeed, we are entering a new era. Learning is now life-long, and the marketplace for education now requires a learner-centric environment that is driven by measurement and impact.
Our ambitious goals to excel in student success have led us to merge student affairs with academic affairs. We have asked Dr. Elizabeth Bejar to lead this process as our new Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, effective July 15.
Dr. Bejar’s new role will aim to foster enhanced student success, deepen affinity and pride in FIU, and integrate units of academic affairs, student affairs, and student access and success. Our goal is to fully support our institutional mission and give our students the competencies to succeed in the classroom and in the world of work. We expect the Division of Academic and Student Affairs will become a national model in groundbreaking programs for learning, assessment and engagement for learners—whether they are degree-seeking or in need of a short-term program.
Dr. Bejar joined FIU in 2003 and in 2009 became our first Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Accountability; in 2014 she became Vice President of Academic Affairs. Her leadership has been pivotal to our multi-prong approach to improving retention and graduation rates. Our performance metric success this year is due in large part to the work Dr. Bejar’s team has done to analyze enrollment data and use those insights to target at-risk students and create strategies to support them.
Dr. Lunsford initiated his career at FIU in 1989 as director of Student Activities. His three-decade commitment to student affairs at FIU has been definitive. He rose through the ranks to become Vice President in 2013. During this time, he connected with students, mentored leaders, and transformed student life in countless ways. He is one of the architects of campus residential life at FIU, and had a direct or indirect role in the construction of nearly $350 million in residence halls on both campuses. His thoughtful leadership enabled multiple reconstructions and improvement of both the Graham Center and the Wolfe University Center. He oversaw the initial design, construction and later expansion of the Wellness and Recreation Center. He pioneered the First Year Experience class, which all entering freshmen must take, and co-wrote the text used in that class.
Dr. Lunsford started the student newspaper The Beacon (currently Panther Press) and our FM radio station. His vision enabled us to initiate intramural leagues for residential students. He has crafted, expanded and improved our mental health support system, and hired the first full-time Greek advisor and orientation director. Through his guidance, our LGBTQA resources were expanded and he helped to raise over $1 million in private gift support to underwrite the program. Larry served as the university’s first Ombudsman and was instrumental in developing the master’s in higher education program. He provided leadership for the review and rewriting of our student code of conduct, and played a key role in the recent Fraternity Sorority Life “pause” that has helped us to realign Greek life with university values and standards. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Order of Omega national honor society. We expect to recognize Dr. Lunsford during the fall for his impactful run in service to our students and our university.
So please join us in thanking Larry Lunsford for his steadfast commitment to our institution and welcome Elizabeth Bejar to her expanded leadership role.