College of Law Names New Director of Student Affairs & Faculty Director of Inclusion Initiatives
As the College of Law welcomes the Class of 2021 and a new cohort of LL.M. students and begins a new academic year, Dean Craig M. Boise announces that Sarah D. Collins has been hired to the role of Director of Student Affairs and that Teaching Professor Suzette Meléndez has accepted the position of Faculty Director of Inclusion Initiatives.
In her new role, Collins will be the primary point of contact for College of Law students, serve as the liaison between the College administration and student organizations, and coordinate and oversee student services.
With a strong background in student-centered education, Collins comes to the College from St. John Fisher College at Onondaga Community College, where she helped coordinate the Ed.D. program, recruiting and assisting students, liaising with alumni, and organizing dissertation and other critical committees. Before working for the St. John Fisher program, Collins was Director of OCC's Office of Student Leadership and Engagement with oversight of student leaders campus-wide, including leaders in student government and student organizations. In that capacity, Collins was responsible for training the Student Association Executive Committee, overseeing the Student Association By-Laws, and assisting the delivery of educational and entertainment programs for the entire student body.
Collins began her career at OCC on the College Committee Leadership Achieving the Dream (ATD) Core Team. ATD is a national organization dedicated to community college student success with an emphasis on low income students and students of color. She also was OCC's Student Development Judicial Coordinator, adjudicating and following due process for alleged student code and disciplinary procedures violations. Collins holds a B.A. in Sociology from Wells College and a J.D. from Albany Law School.
Because of the position's paramount importance to student life at the College, this search was ably assisted by input from students and with the participation of student leadership on the search committee.
Assisting Collins in her new role is Courtney Abbott Hill, who continues as Associate Director for Student Affairs, Academic and Bar Support Programs. Additionally, reporting to Abbott Hill will be a new Program Director for Student Services and Retention. This position will provide academic and other support services to the student body. The program director will focus on barriers to success in law school, including working with at-risk students, developing and implementing student support initiatives, and working with the Student Affairs staff and others to provide appropriate interventions to decrease attrition and transfer rates.
Collins will report directly to Dean Boise, in part to highlight the importance of her role to the College of Law's mission.
Professor Meléndez adds her new appointment to her directorships of the Children's Rights and Family Law Clinic and the Syracuse Medical-Legal Partnership.
As Faculty Director of Inclusion Initiatives, Professor Meléndez will lead a multi-dimensional inclusion effort that will continue to positively impact the work, life, and education of the entire College. She also will champion initiatives that the College began in the 2017-2018 academic year, when the College implemented more meaningful diversity and inclusion programming during Orientation, as well as faculty and staff training and a more substantive Diversity Week that put greater emphasis on educational programming over social events.
As part of her new duties, Professor Meléndez will lead a Committee on Inclusion Initiatives at the College. This Committee will be comprised of four faculty members, including Professor Meléndez; four staff members, including the Director of Student Affairs; and four students, including the SBA President (other students will be selected through an application process).
"I asked Professor Meléndez to accept this position in part because of her excellent and diligent service on behalf of University-wide diversity efforts," says Dean Boise. "She has represented the College on the First-Year Experience Steering Committee and, most recently, on the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion. The Workgroup has been asked to develop solutions to create a more diverse and inclusive climate at the University, and we plan to draw on those solutions to advance our own diversity and inclusion objectives."
Boise continues, "With Professor Meléndez at the helm, the College can look forward to a multi-faceted and tailored approach to diversity and inclusion that accounts for multiple perspectives, that is positively cognizant of differences, and that recognizes how diversity and inclusion enriches our College’s educational experience and informs the practice of law in the 21st century."