Paul Marthers, vice provost for enrollment management, has been named the interim vice president of Campus Life and will assume current Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair’s position when Nair departs Emory University March 30.
Marthers joined Emory seven months ago as vice provost for enrollment management in June 2017. He plans to remain in that role while serving as interim vice president of Campus Life and will also serve on University President Claire E. Sterk’s leadership team during his interim term.
The new interim vice president will report to Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dwight McBride, who offered him the position about a week ago, according to Marthers.
There was no application process for the interim vice president position, Marthers said. McBride did not respond to the Wheel’s request for comment by publication time.
Nair did not play a role in the selection of the interim vice president, Nair wrote in a March 5 email to the Wheel. Nair currently reports to Sterk, but Marthers will continue to report to McBride, “as is common for interim appointments that are in addition to existing responsibilities,” Sterk wrote in a March 5 statement to the Wheel sent via Associate Vice President of University Communications Nancy Seideman.
“It is too early to determine what the eventual reporting structure for this position will look like,” Sterk said in the March 5 statement, noting that the search for a permanent replacement has not yet begun.
Marthers hopes to help set Emory up for a successful search for a permanent Campus Life dean by maintaining smooth operations, which includes having an “open door” and meeting with various Campus Life administrators.
Before the search for a permanent replacement for Nair begins, Sterk told the Wheel in a March 1 interview that she wants to start a “process” to review the Campus Life dean position description to ensure it matches the University’s current needs, which may have evolved since Nair took office in 2012. Sterk will select Nair’s permanent replacement, Nair told the Wheel in December 2017.
When the Wheel asked Marthers about his concrete goals for Campus Life divisions, he said that he does “not really” have any yet, but he hopes that Emory will “achieve a leading student experience in the country … [with] great Campus Life offices, facilities, services and relationships, as well as really outstanding student connections to the academic [areas] such as deans, writing centers, advisers — having the whole campus promoting the best student experience.”
Marthers said that he plans to familiarize himself with students and staff across campus so he can foster communication between groups, noting that he plans to embark on a “listening tour.”
“The first task is to reassure everyone that Campus Life’s [work] and all the great work having been done by Dean Nair and his team is going to continue,” Marthers said. “What I’m really going to try to do once April 1 comes around is be visible, go out and do a listening tour, know student organizations, student leaders, get to know the staff … really be a messenger and conduit.”
Marthers said he already spends time around campus, such as swimming at the Student Activity and Academic Center (SAAC) or checking out a book from the library.
The new interim vice president said he plans to support the current Campus Life staff to continue its work.
“There are a lot of good folks who report to Ajay … I know people will continue to see [them] as their advocates, and I’m going to affirm the work they’re doing,” Marthers said. “While I’m sure it’s going to [matter] for some [that they] get to know me, I don’t want people to assume that they need to know me simply to have that work [and student advocacy] continue.”
At Emory, Marthers manages the Offices of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid and the University Registrar. He also co-leads the Emory Undergraduate Experience Initiative and oversees Emory’s Student Information System.
Marthers has helped the three displaced Puerto Rican students who transferred to Emory transfer Emory credits to their home universities. He said there was no designated office to help them with the issue, so he volunteered to take on the task by reaching out to peer institutions who had accepted displaced Puerto Rican students and obtained advice from Emory administrators and faculty members such as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Pamela Scully.
Marthers previously served as associate vice chancellor for enrollment management and student success as well as the chief enrollment and student affairs officer at the State University of New York (SUNY) system. In those roles, he convened meetings of the vice presidents of student life and student affairs across the 64 campuses and convened meetings of the student government.
“I’m used to working very closely with students,” Marthers said, pointing to when he worked at Phillips Academy (Mass.). He spent three years living in a residence hall at Phillips Academy, coached baseball, liaised for student clubs and advised students. He also spent four summers teaching math and science for minority students at Phillips while he was working in Boston College’s admissions office.
Marthers holds a master’s degree from Boston University in counseling and a master’s degree from Reed College (Ore.) in the liberal arts with a focus on social sciences. He also has an EdD from the University of Pennsylvania in higher education management.
Assistant Vice President for Community Suzanne Onorato told the Wheel that she looks forward to working with Marthers.
“I look forward to working with Dr. Marthers as we continue to carry out the exceptional work within Campus Life and to enhance academic and campus life connections to support student success,” Onorato wrote in a March 7 email to the Wheel.
Nair announced Dec. 7, 2017, that he is set to become 22nd president of Arcadia University (Pa.) April 2.
Correction (3/5/18 at 4:25 p.m.): Marthers’s new title is interim vice president, not interim dean.
Update (3/5/18 at 5:30 p.m.): This article has been updated to reflect a March 5 statement on the reporting structure of the interim vice president position sent from Sterk via Seideman.
Correction (3/6/18 at 12:31 p.m.): The Wheel’s interview with President Sterk occurred March 1, not Feb. 28.
Update (3/8/18 at 4:20 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a statement from Onorato.