VP of Student Affairs candidate discusses vision for CMU at second open forum

Vice President of Student Affairs Candidate Renee Watson addresses students at an open forum on April 14.

Vice President of Student Affairs candidate Renee Watson addressed students at the second open forum on April 14.

“This position is really exciting, because it's about serving students,” Watson said. “It's about helping you reach your personal professional goals and engaging the students.”

Watson has about 15 years of experience working in higher education and currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Life at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV). 

Watson said 90% of her job is showing up for campus events and town hall meetings. 

“Students would find that not only am I accessible and available to them, but I'm also not going to shy away when things get tough.”

Watson prides herself on addressing issues when they are present on campus, and also showing up to support and engage with the students. She said she frequently speaks with the Student Government and Resident Housing Association to increase transparency between students and faculty.

Watson also hosts a podcast at her current university titled, “Let’s Talk UNLV” where she speaks to guests from different student organizations about campus highlights, programs and services. She says these forms of campus media can help to communicate the needs of RSO’s in order for administration to provide necessary resources.

“Amplifying the division of student affairs through student media and other online platforms are great ways to get the message out," she said.

When it comes to boosting student involvement, she suggests conducting student surveys to gauge opinions on campus programs and continuing to offer virtual options for remote students.

She also wants to expand counseling to help reduce mental illness currently affecting college students. She said this could be done by distributing more counselors in residence halls and buildings across campus, and also offering online counseling not only for Central Michigan University students, but also for their family members.

“(This creates) a healthier campus, because not only is the student receiving those services, but families are now receiving those services,” she said.

One student asked Watson why she wants the position at CMU. 

“You have a close knit community,” she said. “You have a strategic student centered education philosophy, and that's not always a given.” 

Watson said she wants to build upon these attributes CMU already has, and continue to enforce the importance of student voices. She encouraged students to stay invested in the hiring process to find the right candidates that will help improve campus.

Upcoming open forum

Friday, April 15, 2022

Michael Jasik

5:30 p.m. - 6:20 p.m.

Bovee UC room 125, Lakeshore Room