On Feb. 10, in a unanimous decision, the VSA Council appointed Amanda Zeligs ‘13 the new Vice President of Academics, replacing Matt Harvey ’13 who stepped down from the position last month. The news comes a week after Dallas Robinson ’14 was tapped to succeed Michael Moore ’14 as VP of Student Life, another Executive Council seat vacated mid-year.
With her new position, Zeligs will be taking on a host of responsibilities. The VP of Academics works as a liaison with the various academic and offices and committees.
The VP must hold a seat on or be in contact with the Registrar, the Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources, the Library Committee, and the Committee on Curricular Policies with its five active subcommittees. Zeligs will be a member, along with the four other VP’s and the President, of the Executive Council, as well as chair of the VSA Academics Committee.
According to Operations Committee members, during the interview process, Zeligs stood out among her fellow applicants as someone who could aptly handle this multitude of obligations. Chaired by VP of Operations Deb Steinberg ‘14, the Operation Committee, along with a few at large students, met with each of the six students who applied for the position. Applicants answered questions about their ideas for the role, how they planned to work with other committee members, what relevant experiences that they had had, and if they were willing to make the position their top priority.
After their interviews, candidates left the room and committee members went around and discussed their favorites. Zeligs stood out in the discussions, and her experience with on- and off-campus organizations was key in the decision recommending her appointment to Council.
“While all of the candidates were great,” said Steinberg in an emailed statement, “everyone in the room was really excited about Amanda and they all listed her as one of their favorites. “Among her broad range of extracurricular experience, Zeligs has worked as a Research Assistant for the English and Africana Studies Department, a Student Fellow, a House Student Advisor, and a student teacher.”
This sweeping resume excited VP of Activities Doug Greer ’14, who, like every other member of the VSA Council, voted yes on Zeligs.
“She’ll add a knowledge of how Residential Life works, being a student fellow and a house advisor, and she’ll know how academics and that meet,” said Greer. “She’s also been a research assistant, so she knows how to work with professors.”
Zeligs referenced her extracurricular experience, specifically with student teaching, as a reason she decided to apply for VP for Academics. “I spent last semester Student Teaching at a local private school and felt very removed from campus life” said Zeligs in an emailed statement. “Upon becoming a ‘regular’ college student again, I was looking for ways to get back involved.” She added, “when the position opened up, it felt like the perfect opportunity to reintegrate myself.”
The day after her appointment, Harvey met with Zeligs to discuss the transition and how she will handle her new responsibilities. Her arrival will be smoothed, says Harvey, because some members of the Academic Committee have in the interim period taken up additional responsibilities and committee positions.
“Where she goes from here will be entirely up to her,” said Harvey in an emailed statement,” I just wanted to make sure she had a sense of what the situation was that she was walking into.”
His impressions were wholly positive, and he added: “She seems personable, organized, and energetic, and has already displayed a better mind for management than I ever did.”
Zeligs can be assured that her tenure for the rest of the semester will be busy. Among her new responsibilities will be working with the administration as they seek potential changes in the curriculum. According to Steinberg, “Amanda said that she wants to get more information about [Dean and Acting President] Chenette’s curriculum suggestions before taking an official position on them.”
Zeligs, who has already started working, plans to continue Harvey’s initiatives while introducing those of her own. These initiatives include preparing the first academic newsletter, mandating coursework in social awareness as a part of every concentration and responding to the controversial curricular agenda that Acting President Chenette proposed last semester. Harvey considers the two subcommittees dedicated towards the first two issues to be self-sufficient.
Citing her desire to be realistic about her goals given her mid-year entry, Zeligs said, “I intend to continue along the path set forth by the previous VP.” In addition, said Steinberg, Zeligs does have her own project of expanding Field Work opportunities at the school she student taught.
Zeligs also expressed a positive perspective on her mid-year entry to the VP for Academics Position. “I am excited to be entering the position mid-year,” she said. “I feel like it gives me an opportunity to be an energizing force in both council and the various committees on which I serve.”
Harvey left Zeligs with one last piece of counsel. “Her biggest challenge,” said Harvey, “is going to be familiarizing herself with the college structure and the ongoing projects as fast as possible, not so that she can continue them necessarily, but so that she can make up her mind about how best to invest her effort and the efforts of the committee.”