Cuts force restructuring of student programs

By Kristen Levine, @KLevine_DE

Budget cuts have led to the merging of two offices and one man losing his job. 

The University Programming Office and the Student Life office merged on July 1, in what’s now known as the Office of Student Engagement.

Blake Bradley, the coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life, will not have his contract renewed because of budget cuts and the new blended office.


Bradley was hired on a one-year interim basis to oversee Fraternity and Sorority Life. He took over the position after Andy Morgan became the acting associate Dean of Students.

The coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life serves as the primary staff member working with the univeristy’s 34 sorority and fraternities and four governing councils, Bradley said.

Vamsi Manne, associate director of the Student Center, said the decision not to renew Bradley’s contract was made in an effort to be more fiscally responsible.

Manne said he will oversee the converged office and Morgan will again oversee the Greek community after Bradley’s departure.

Bradley said the university must make difficult decisions regarding finances and the budget to provide the same quality experience for as many students as possible.

“At the end of the day, at least in my opinion, it is vastly important that decisions made result in minimizing the negative impact on the student experience,” Bradley said.

Since Bradley’s contract wasn’t renewed, he will no longer be employed by SIU after Dec. 30. 


“I am pursing options at this time and hope to find a fit at a university setting,” Bradley said. “Wherever I end up, I do know it will be falling up versus falling down.”

Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Lori Stettler made the decision to merge the offices.

“I think there were a few factors that went into the decision. But, at the root of it is efficiency — being fiscally efficient … so we are providing the best services and efficiency in resources in a time when we cannot afford to operate in silos,” Manne said.

Tena Bennett, the director of the Student Center, said the new office will provide advisement, support and programming for student organizations and the student body as a whole.

The new office, now called the Office of Student Engagement, includes Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Involvement, Student Leadership Programs, Student Center Programs, University Programming and advisement of Undergraduate Student Government as well as the Graduate and Professional Student Council.

Bennett said reorganizing the office space the departments currently occupy is being considered in order to be more efficient.

“With the current uncertainty of the state budget, we are being as efficient as we can with all funds,” Bennett said. “While specific cuts have been limited, we are looking at all ways to best manage the funds we are appropriated.”

Manne said that members of the university have gotten creative on ways to deal with the budget crisis.

“The good thing is that offices are willing to collaborate on ideas and programs because we simply cannot afford not to,” Manne said.

Kristen Levine can be reached at @KLevine_De or at [email protected]