Native American Program, Office of Greek Life, Tucker Center continue to search for new directors

As the term draws to a close, some students express confusion and discontent.

by Lauren Azrin | 11/16/21 5:20am

by Hannah Li / The Dartmouth

This term, the Office of Greek Life, the Native American Program and the Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life have all operated without permanent directors, following the resignations of former directors Brian Joyce, Sarah Palacios and Daveen Litwin, respectively.

All three organizations announced plans to search for a new director this term, with associate dean for community life and inclusivity Bryant Ford leading both the Tucker Center and NAP’s search and with associate dean of residential life Mike Wooten leading the OGL’s search.

In September, Wooten said in an interview with The Dartmouth that he hoped to find a new director by the end of this term. Maiah Newell ’24, a student actively involved with the Tucker Center, spoke with Ford about the search at the beginning of the term, during which he shared plans to make a decision by late October, according to Newell.

“I haven’t heard anything from him since,” Newell said.

Both Ford and Wooten wrote in emailed statements that all three of the centers’ searches are ongoing.

“Unfortunately, there is little new to report except that we continue with our search,” Wooten wrote. “And, [we] hope to have someone in the saddle in the new year.”

Former Tucker Center volunteer Samantha Palermo ’24 explained that without a director, the Tucker Center has been on a “hiatus” this term and has not run any of its normal programs.

“With no director, it’s really hard to have a point person and get things off the ground,” Palermo said.

She expressed her dismay with the Tucker Center’s diminished on-campus presence this term.

“It was the space on campus for people of different faiths to get together and discuss conflicts that really mattered,” Palermo said. “… There’s really no other space like it. And just to have that shut down is really disappointing.”

Newell also described the effect that the lack of leadership has had on her personally. According to Newell, she had been slated to serve as a facilitator for the center’s multifaith conversations, but the role fell through once the Tucker Center began its change of leadership.

“There was just a lot of uncertainty, so we decided to put multifaith conversations on hold,” she explained.

Greek Leadership Council chair Brandon Zhou ’22 said that the OGL’s search has been relatively transparent, adding that the GLC has “definitely been in the loop.”

In addition to a student representative on the search committee, Zhou meets with Dean Wooten regularly in his capacity as GLC chair. He believes that the search committee is doing its best to find someone suitable to fill the spot as fast as possible, but “generally, these things take time.”

Zhou added that the GLC has been working hard to make sure that Greek programming, such as rush, continues to run smoothly.

NAP — which had been without a director for over three terms before the hiring of new interim director Kianna Burke a few weeks ago, according to Indigenous Student Peer Advisor Ahnili Johnson-Jennings ’23 — has maintained “consistent” programming as well.

Johnson-Jennings added that it’s been a learning experience for everyone involved, “working as a giant team rather than just one director.”

She also explained that as of a few weeks ago, NAP has a new full-time interim director, Kianna Burke, who previously served as NAP’s interim director from 2016 to 2018.

Unlike the OGL’s search, she said, students have not been given many updates on Ford’s search for NAP’s permanent director.

Many other faculty members besides Burke have stepped in to help the NAP, according to Johnson-Jennings.

“People are taking time from their days to help be the program director and do the responsibilities of the program director,” she said.

She expressed gratitude for all the people helping out the program, emphasizing that “they’ve done a great job to keep our programming afloat.”