Kelly Schaefer tapped to replace Burgwell Howard as new assistant vice president for student engagement

Tyler Pager, Campus Editor

Kelly Schaefer, executive director of Norris University Center, will replace Burgwell Howard as assistant vice president for student engagement.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, announced Schaefer’s promotion in an email to the Student Affairs division on Monday.

Schaefer will assume the position July 3. Howard is leaving Northwestern for Yale University, where he will be associate vice president for student engagement and the senior associate dean of the undergraduate school.

In her new position, Schaefer will oversee areas of Campus Inclusion and Community, including Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Enrichment Services. She will also supervise religious life and the Center for Student Involvement.

“Her creative approach, new ideas and solutions have garnered her widespread support and respect across the University,” Telles-Irvin wrote in the email. “Additionally, her collaborative and open leadership style will certainly be valuable in her new role, as she works with multiple stakeholders and all our students to truly be engaged in their Northwestern experience.”

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, associate vice president for student affairs, said there are no plans to name an interim director of Norris, but a search committee will be commissioned by the end of the month to lead a national search for Schaefer’s replacement.

Schaefer joined NU’s Student Affairs division in January 2013 and has played a lead role in planning the new University Commons, which will be the new name for the student center after it is built. She has also served as the adviser for NU Threads, a shared formal wear closet, and the Graduate Student Association.

Christina Cilento, Associated Student Government’s vice president for sustainability, has been working with Schaefer since the start of Spring Quarter on sustainability initiatives for University Commons.

“She’s going to be really great representation for student voices and a really good person to advocate for students,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “In the conversations I’ve had with her, she’s being really dedicated to listening to student voices and incorporating them into plans.”

Prior to NU, Schaefer served as the director of campus and conference centers and co-managed the campus dining program at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She previously worked as the assistant director of student centers at DePaul University, where she also advised Spectrum, the LGBT student group on campus.

Howard said he is excited Schaefer will succeed him. He said she brings a wealth of experience in understanding how NU operates and how to manage spaces — something he said is critical to supporting student organizations.

“Given that a number of areas that report to student engagement have offices that are housed within the Norris Center, she’s already developed great relationships,” he said. “It’s going to be a very easy transition because not only does she know the people, but also how those offices are operating.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Payne-Kirchmeier’s title. She is the associate vice president for student affairs. The Daily regrets the error.

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