Gabriel Mata/The Rider
With the first anniversary of the creation of UT Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday, Rebecca Gadson thinks back on the many highlights that made up her first year as the interim dean of students and associate vice president for Student Life.
“It’s a combination of all those opportunities that make this position unique and rewarding,” Gadson said. “The opportunity to serve the university and to serve students is definitely a big part of why, yes, I am willing to continue on in the interim role.”
Gadson will continue to serve in the position this academic year.
The decision comes after the university began its search in April for a candidate to fill the position permanently.
“Finding the exact right person for the position where it’s both a good fit for us and a good next step for this person in their career, it’s a decision that we take very seriously,” said Kristin Croyle, vice president for Student Success. “After evaluating all the candidates, it wasn’t the right mutual fit at the time, and Ms. Gadson was doing a fantastic job.”
A university search committee chaired by Jonikka Charlton, the associate vice president for Student Academic Success, worked with a national search firm to look for applicants.
“[The search firm] did all the recruiting and they gave us a list of potential candidates,” Charlton said in a phone interview. ”We went in and reviewed their materials, so normal things like CV and letter of application and references.”
The first batch of applicants was narrowed to 10 by the committee and after conducting interviews via video conference the committee narrowed the list to three who were then presented to the campus community.
“After evaluating all candidates, it wasn’t the right mutual fit at the time, and Ms. Gadson was doing a fantastic job. “- Kristin Croyle Vice President for Student Success
“In the open forum, it varied from candidate to candidate,” Charlton said. “For the most part, there were anywhere from 25 to 40 people who showed up and in Brownsville there were 15 to 25 people, probably.”
Candidates also met in individual meetings with the vice president of Student Success, the provost, a Student Life leadership team, a student leadership group and a leadership team for Student Success and other associate vice presidents, Charlton said.
In all meetings and forums held, members of the community filled out written forms to evaluate each of the candidates.
Participants had to rate the candidates in the following areas: education background, budgetary experience, related experience, supervisory experience, ability to establish rapport among campus partners, candidate enthusiasm, communication skills, initiative and resources fullness, professionalism, ability to work well with diverse perspectives and experience in developing policies and procedures.
They also were asked about their perception of the candidate’s strengths and greatest skills, to give their overall assessment, and for their recommendation concerning the candidate’s qualifications to serve in the position.
Asked why the search did not start until April, Croyle replied that nationally, if a university is going to make a change, it often makes it at the beginning of the fall semester.
“Given all the other transitions we were experiencing, I thought it was a good idea for us to have a stable leadership,” she said.
The community’s feedback on the candidates was submitted to Croyle and she made the decision to keep Gadson because she felt the other candidates did not make a mutual match with the university.
“Well, any position, but particularly a leadership position, has to be the right match mutually, both for the candidate, that this is the right place for this stage in their career, and for the institution, that this is the right person for us in our development,” she said.
Gadson is committed to help whoever is selected in the future be successful in the transition to the position.
“I am very committed to making sure that I am a good steward of the position and the responsibilities associated with the position,” she said.