Lynn’s new vice president for student affairs has had a memorable first year. Within the first few months in his role, he navigated a Category 4 hurricane and an art school acquisition. Maintaining quality services and keeping students on track during any single disruptive event is challenging enough, but in Dr. Anthony Altieri’s case, he found himself juggling both Hurricane Irma and the integration of students from Digital Media Arts College at nearly the same time.
Such challenges aren’t new to Altieri, an administrator with over 15 years of experience. He joined Lynn in 2006, and in his 12-year tenure has overseen several departments in the Division of Student Affairs. This depth of experience helps him enhance the division’s efforts today.
“I came into this role very familiar with the team’s strengths and its great initiatives. My goal in the first semester was to elevate them,” Altieri said. “I’m a believer in striving for excellence. Everything we do should be of the highest quality because that will make the student experience as transformational as possible.”
Altieri spent his first 30 days assessing programs and services the department offered and slowly integrating, through conversation and collaboration, ideas for growth and improvement. Next, he began fostering relationships across campus, creating awareness for student affairs’ programs and services.
“Student affairs is not just about partying or hosting events,” Altieri explained. “It’s the collection of ‘stuff’ that students go through outside of the classroom. Not everyone realizes the tremendous range of services we provide or the amount of experience and expertise among our staff. My goal was to elevate that and to refocus on activities that significantly impact our students.”
A tangible impact
One of the first changes Altieri made was to improve Knights of the Roundtable (KOR) operations. He helped the student government organization adopt clearer objectives and executive roles and led an election that allowed the student body to choose its future leaders.
“Making sure students have a place where they can get strong peer-to-peer experiences is important,” said Altieri. “Students need to have an active voice, share ideas, collaborate and figure out strategies. The new structure allows my team to help elected leaders problem-solve at a peer level, without always needing an administrator’s input.”
To further develop students’ competencies, Altieri’s team also is designing a division curriculum that measures and tracks the skills students develop each time they engage with student affairs outside of the classroom.
“The goal is to help students develop and refine skills over time,” Altieri said. “A student can do a lot academically, but if they’re struggling socially, emotionally, from a health perspective or other, they’re not going to be focused. By adopting a comprehensive, intentional wellness approach that looks at both sides of the student experience, we can show that students still gained other skills that benefit them as members of society.”
The co-curricular portfolio also will allow other departments, like academic affairs and career connections, to understand a student’s progress and identify resources they may need.
And that’s only the beginning
Altieri feels fulfilled in his role, which allows him to continuously look down the road and imagine what the future needs, and what that means for higher education today.
“I don’t feel that I come to work every day,” said Altieri. “This job is my passion. I love working with students and watching them learn and grow. Helping them figure out who they are and become life long learners and contributors to society—that’s what this job is about. It’s rewarding and why I’ll stay in this field for my entire life.”
President Kevin M. Ross hopes so, too. “Anthony has been a valuable part of our student affairs team for many years, and we look forward to benefiting even more from his ideas, passion and leadership.”
Altieri's words of wisdom
To students: “By the time you graduate, you should feel like ‘I don’t want to go.’ Then we’ve done our job right. And it’s not a job. It’s our life’s work.”
To employees: “You are part of something that’s bigger than yourself. You need to have 1-2-3 things that you can say ‘That was mine and I helped change the culture of the institution’ about.”