For the past 15 years, the Office of Community Relations has operated under the University Advancement division at Texas State, but as of Monday this is no longer the case.
Barbara Breier, vice president for University Advancement, announced in an email that student engagement will be merged with the community relations functions previously carried out by the Office of Community Relations.
To date, the merge has met with mixed reactions from community members and university officials alike.
“Community Relations was duplicating a lot of services that other on-campus organizations were also performing, so I think the idea is that, in the event Texas State Community is dissolved, the services it achieved would continue to be provided by student service organizations,” said Miguel Arredondo, Dist. 1 SMCISD Board trustee. “In my opinion, the main goal of University Advancement is to raise money for the Capital Campaign, and Community Relations did not do that.”
According to the email disseminated by University Advancement, the decision resulted from a review of all functions within the department for alignment to university priorities. In accordance with this reorganization, Kim Porterfield, former Community Relations director, has been appointed special assistant to the dean of students.
“I have accepted the position,” Porterfield said. “I’m not privy to what is happening as far as the future of the Office of Community Relations is concerned, but I know that it is under discussion at levels higher than myself.”
Although Community Relations is being merged rather than dissolved entirely, some feel the existence of a separate department to specifically address community needs is still necessary.
“As a member of the school board, I have seen firsthand the impact the Community Relations Department has had,” Arredondo said. “This year alone they brought over 1,200 San Marcos school children to Texas State for college awareness enrichment activities.”
Immediately after the Memorial Day weekend flood, Texas State Community Relations organized over 150 students to help with the relief effort as part of a coordinated volunteer event called H2O, which focused on public housing projects that were severely damaged. The students involved spent their Saturdays helping address infrastructural issues that many homes were faced with after bearing the brunt of the flooding.
“It’s charged with connecting university resources with community needs,” Arredondo said.
Additionally, Texas State Community Relations was partnered with United Way, and has engineered past events such as “Pack It Up & Pass It On”, a recycling initiative that encouraged students to donate useful but unwanted items, such as clothes and kitchenware, to families in need.
“Community Relations did not raise funds for Texas State, but it did raise friends,” Arredondo said. “It established and cemented relationships that this university has not always had. As a fifth-generation San Martian and an elected official, I am currently concerned for the future of Texas State in regards to its commitment to the community that this university calls home.”
According to the email, Reyna Caraveo will assume a new position as administrative assistant III in the Office of the Vice President where she will provide assistance with human resources, help with events and communications and play a part in carrying out daily operations for the office.
Over the next few weeks, Caraveo is set to coordinate delivery of previously scheduled Community Relations events through April 14, to help close out the Community Relations office.
The factor driving recent changes in administration were identified in the email sent out by University Advancement as an evaluation of the goals of each department in the division.
“The university is in the midst of realignments and reorganization as a result of the latest strategic plan, which is underway now,” Porterfield said. “Changes are happening all over.”