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Mike VetterVetter steps down from dean’s office, begins new role as special assistant

Mike Vetter stepped down as vice president for student affairs and dean of students on June 30 after a 15-year tenure and immediately began a new position as special assistant to the university. His new role will involve Vetter in development, alumni relations, admissions, and special assignments from the president’s office.

“Mike has provided great service to the university as dean of students, and I look forward to his contributions in this new role,” said President R. Owen Williams. “Mike seems to know everyone in the Transylvania family, and his connections will prove invaluable as he pursues key fund-raising initiatives and new ideas toward involving alumni more in the student recruitment process.”

One of Vetter’s new roles will be to serve as a major gifts officer in the development office, which is where he is now located. An emphasis will be on fundraising for the new athletics fields to be constructed on a 10-acre plot along West Fourth Street recently purchased by the university, and for projected new residence and academic facilities that are part of strategic planning now taking place.

Vetter will also work with the alumni office and admissions office to increase participation by alumni in identifying and helping to recruit prospective students.

As he begins this new work for Transylvania, Vetter looks back on a number of changes in student life over the past 15 years in which he played a key role.

One such area is the improved support for ethnic minority students. A concern for these issues first brought about an office of multicultural affairs and now has resulted in the university’s first office of campus diversity and inclusion.

“You must have these kinds of programs in place in order to attract a diverse student body and make them feel welcome and valued,” Vetter said. “My office played a role in informing the entire campus community through cocurricular activities that stressed diversity education. I’m very pleased with how all of that developed.”

Another office created during Vetter’s tenure is a full-time position for a coordinator of community service and civic engagement.

“This allowed us to increase our opportunities for students to reach out to the surrounding community,” Vetter said. “Working with Arlington Elementary School in an after-school daycare program and with the Carnegie Center for tutoring situations are great examples of these programs.”

Student retention received major emphasis during Vetter’s tenure. A Retention Committee was created to coordinate all aspects of enhancing the university’s graduation rate and helping ensure that first-year students return for their sophomore year. A closer relationship with the academic dean’s office and bringing counseling services on campus were key developments in this area.

“Athletics is something I was especially interested in,” Vetter said. “I wanted to help that department have a student-athlete program that gave equal support regardless of the varsity sport you’re taking part in. The fact that we have won the Commissioner’s Cup (for best overall achievement from women’s and men’s teams in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference) the past two years, I think, demonstrates our commitment to that ideal.”

As he leaves the dean’s office, Vetter reflected on his goal in coming to Transylvania and the fulfillment he experienced being in that role.

“My intent was to come back to a small college after working at larger state and regional schools,” he said. “I wanted to work more directly with students, faculty, and staff to help create a better learning environment. That’s been the joy of this Transylvania experience.”

One of Vetter’s colleagues who appreciated the work he did is athletics director Jack Ebel ’77. 

“Mike has been a great friend to athletics,” he said. “One of his goals when I started as athletics director was to try to show that all the sports and all our student-athletes were important, regardless of the team they played on. Knowing that the dean’s office believes in that value goes a long way toward making it a reality. Mike did a great job in that respect.”

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