From Dean to vice president of Student Affairs

Brittainie Cason, Contributor

Photo courtesy of the Tarleton Directory
Laura Boren was the vice president of Student Affairs for the past three years until she left to become the vice president of Student Affairs at Georgia Southwestern State University. Once she left in June, Dr. Mike Leese become the vice president when Dominic Dottavio, President of Tarleton State University, asked Leese to take her place until his retirement in December. Leese was the vice president for nine years in the 1980’s and since his return in 2012 he has been the Associate Vice President, Dean of Students and the Vice President of Student Affairs. The vice president is over a vast amount of offices and resources for students. “We work closely with academic affairs for student success,” Leese said. “We oversee diversity inclusion, resident’s life, food service, pretty well all of those out of classroom experiences.”

The most important part of student affairs is to properly represent the students and being student focused. “Where the students live, where they eat, how they’re taken care of,” Leese explained. “Recreation and safety as far as university police.” The job is focused on helping the students, Leese last year helped those students who might have been impacted by hurricane Harvey. He strives to serve the students to his highest expertise and expectations of Dottavio.

With Leese’s retirement in December, Dottavio has appointed Dr. Kelli Styron. Dean of College and Liberal and Fine Arts, as the new interim vice president. Styron has worked at Tarleton since 1995 and has been dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts since 2011. “I was very honored and surprised,” Styron said. “I am very grateful to Dr. Dottavio for considering me for this position, I’m honored by that and humbled.” When talking with Styron about Leese, she commented on how she has big shoes to fill and is up for the challenge. “I will be forever grateful to Dr. Mike Leese for his confidence in me,” Styron exclaimed. “And his willingness to assist me for months in the spring semester.” Even though Leese is retiring he will be working half-time during the spring to help with her transition.

Styron expressed that earning a degree shows your employers that you are trainable and are able to jump hurdles. With her degree in business administration and a doctorate in jurisprudence, she believes they have helped her prepare for the jobs she has had since obtaining those degrees. “With lifelong learning inside the job and outside the job I have improved those skills,” Styron said. “I think that everything I learned while obtaining both of those degrees has been put to great work.” Using her skills in every division she has worked at Tarleton and continuing to learn is setting her up for success as the vice president.

Leese is excited that Styron is becoming the new vice president, as he believes she knows the university well and is fully capable of doing the job over any expectations. Appointing Styron will bring stability to the division of student affairs which will be beneficial to the students and the faculty in that division. “She is known for being very, very student focused and student oriented,” Leese praised. “She is coming from the academic part of the university. She will be able to work closely with academic affairs to help further student success.”

Leese praised Styron for being very intelligent, having legal and academic backgrounds and being student focused. Leese believes that with Styrons experience and expertise, that she will do a great job. Styron is looking forward to the opportunity and challenge. “I already work with students each and every day inside and outside of the classroom,” Styron said. “This will just be a new opportunity to work with students in a different way.” Styron stated that no matter what your job is, you are focused on the students. Styron is excited about the interactions with the students, because at the position of dean she doesn’t get to do it much as she only gets to teach one class with that being her favorite part of her week.

Styron hopes to be able to live up to Dottavio’s expectations and do a good job for the students of Tarleton State University. She looks forward to working with all the students and student affairs. “I am excited about the staff who are already in place who are great,” Styron explained. “I want to help unify that division and move us forward to the next bigger and better things that I’m sure student affairs is going to be involved in.”