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Student Affairs announces new senior leaders and organizational alignments

November 1, 2016

Lee Hawthorne and Robin Jones

Lee Hawthorne and Robin Jones
Lee Hawthorne has been named chief of staff for Student Affairs. Robin Jones has been named executive director for organizational effectiveness within Student Affairs.

Student Affairs at Virginia Tech has two new senior leaders and organizational changes that will advance its mission to promote student learning, life skills, and personal growth through a strong focus on holistic student development and collaborative partnerships.

“As I enter my fifth year of service to this wonderful institution, I’m excited to see the organizational structure that we collectively envisioned now in place,” said Patty Perillo, vice president for Student Affairs. “From critical staff hires and departmental alignments within the organization, to name changes that better reflect our work, and resource allocations that support our mission, we stand ready to continue the quality work we are doing, to advance Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, and to blaze a trail of student-focused and learning-centered innovation among our peers.”

Lee Hawthorne has been named chief of staff for Student Affairs. Robin Jones has been named executive director for organizational effectiveness within Student Affairs.

In their respective capacities, Hawthorne and Jones join Perillo and the Student Affairs executive leadership team to advance the work of the division’s more than 20 departments and nearly 3,400 employees dedicated to enhancing the Virginia Tech student experience and promoting the Aspirations for Student Learning.

Most recently, Hawthorne was director of student life at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She has also held positions in student affairs at the University of Richmond and Bowling Green State University. Hawthorne received a B.A. in psychology from Randolph Macon Women’s College and an M.A. from Bowling Green State University. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. Hawthorne replaced Hunter Gresham as chief of staff for Student Affairs.

Prior to Virginia Tech, Jones was assistant to the vice president for administration, operations, and assessment at Humboldt State University. She had previously worked in student affairs at the University of South Alabama and Armstrong State University. Jones received a B.S. in sociology from the University of North Georgia and did graduate work at the University of Central Texas and Georgia Southern University. She earned an Ed.D. from the University of Alabama. Jones’ role as executive director for organizational effectiveness is a restructuring of the position previously held by former Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Cynthia Bonner, who retired in June.

“Administrative excellence and organizational efficiencies are crucial in today’s higher education landscape,” said Perillo. “The knowledge, experience, and expertise that Dr. Hawthorne and Dr. Jones will contribute as part of the Student Affairs senior leadership team will enhance our commitment to be good stewards of human, financial, and physical resources and our dedication to delivering a quality experience to students, faculty, staff, families, and alumni.”

Other organizational and personnel changes in Student Affairs include:

  • Hunter Gresham has been named executive director for communications and information technology. In this new role, Gresham will serve as the chief communications officer and provide oversight to the division’s IT infrastructure.
  • New Student and Family Programs is now two separate entities: New Student Programs, which includes new student orientation and first-year and transition programs, and Family and Alumni Relations, which will promote alumni and family involvement in the university community and support the current student experience.
  • Penny Helms White has been named chief advancement officer and director of Family and Alumni Relations. White will lead the division’s advancement initiatives, focusing on both philanthropy and engagement. White previously served as the director of Parent and Alumni Programs and interim director of New Student and Family Programs.
  • Lizette Rebolledo has been named director of New Student Programs. She comes to Virginia Tech from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was assistant director of New Student Programs. In this role she was responsible for the development and implementation of transition programs for special populations including international, transfer, veterans, first-generation, low income, and underrepresented students.  She earned her master of science degree in college student personnel administration from Illinois State University. In addition, Rebolledo is active in the National Orientation Directors Association and serves as co-chair for the Multicultural Network. 
  • Ali Cross has been named director of Recreational Sports. She had previously served in an interim role. Cross began her career at Virginia Tech in Recreational Sports in 1999.
  • Career and Professional Development, formerly Career Services, began the 2016-17 academic year with a new name that better reflects their mission to educate and support students as they explore and further understand themselves and career options, gain valuable experience, develop as professionals, and launch their post-graduation career plans. The name change recognizes that career development is a life-long process and is indicative of the scope of offerings available to Virginia Tech students.

A Student Affairs organizational chart is available online. 

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