By: Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Towson University
Vernon J. Hurte will start at TU as the newest vice president of Student Affairs on Feb. 17.
Hurte, chosen for his new position after a nationwide search, has had more than 18 years of experience in higher education. Before Towson, Hurte served as the associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students at Iowa State University since 2017.
Towson organized a search committee through to find the perfect candidate for this position.
One search committee member was Towson’s assistant vice president for students affairs, Kelly Hover. According to Hoover, out of all the candidates for this position, Hurte was the top choice as he met what she and other search committee members were looking for in the candidates.
“I was looking for someone who was going to be able to step into the University and really have a strategic plan going forward for the division that meshes well with strategic plans and initiatives, and priorities that the president has set for the University,” Hoover said. “I was also looking for someone who I would be able to learn from, [who would] be a mentor to me. And somebody who was going to be able to have good rapport with the students.”
Hurte explained that one reason why he wanted to be a part of the Towson University community was that he had a deep respect for the history and leadership of the intuition that has impacted the state of Maryland and the rest of the nation.
“Simply put, the opportunity to be a part of the exciting work happening at TU, both on- and off-campus, and to lead such a dynamic and passionate team in the Division of Student Affairs makes me excited about the opportunities we have ahead to continue to enhance the TU experience for our students,” Hurte said.
According to Hurte, during his campus interview, TU students “really energized me and increased my excitement.”
“During my open forum with students, I was so impressed with the level of engagement and the insightful dialogue we had together,” Hurte said. “I left that room thinking, ‘Wow, these students are really invested in their success and the success of the entire TU community, and really want to partner with the University.’ It’s all-around exciting!”
Towson senior Edmund Savage is looking forward to Hurte to “provide strategies to combat some of the concerns students have, which include safety on campus, reporting hate bias incidents, and mental health.”
“Students lead the charge in creating change on campus, but we’re able to generate more of an impact when we have support from professional staff. I’m hoping Hurte will be able to create some change to benefit our community by supporting our students.”
According to Towson University President Kim Schatzel, the new staff addition is an exciting opportunity for campus because of how important the role is for TU. Since Deb Moriarty previously was TU’s vice president for student affairs for 15 years, it had been well over a decade since the campus conducted a search for the role.
“[This time] really provided the opportunity for us to think about the position,” Schatzel said. “And [we] really had an opportunity for us to be able to identify the qualities and characteristics of the new leader in that area as well as the priorities we want to place in that area for the new leader to advance.”
According to Schatzel, the search committee for this position was “probably one of the biggest ones that we’ve had. It had students on it, it had faculty on it, it had administrators on it, it had staff on it,” she said. “So, it kind of speaks to the fact that we had a lot of interest in the position.”
“Part of me worries about how Hurte will be able to adjust to a new role and campus halfway through the academic year, but I’m hopeful that he’s excited to work with the students, faculty, and staff apart from TU,” Savage said.
Hurte, as the new vice president of Student Affairs will now report to the Provost, Dr. Melanie Perreault, according to Schatzel. Previously, the vice president of Student Affairs reported to Schatzel. Schatzel indicated this will allow academic affairs and student affairs to better be able to work together.
Hurte also explained that he had an “awesome college experience” and much of that related to the mentorship he received from the “dedicated student affairs professionals I was fortunate to have around me.”
“When I experienced challenges, as all college students do, it was those same people who helped me stay forward-focused and feel supported along the way,” he said. “That experience inspired my desire to become a student affairs professional and invest in student success the way my mentors did then, and in many cases, still do today.”
Hurte said he is ready to be a leader in the Student Affairs department at Towson.
“In some ways, I think I always wanted to be a vice president of Student Affairs,” Hurte said. “Having been a part of the senior leadership teams for two nationally-respected student affairs divisions, I certainly feel well-equipped to lead our outstanding division at TU.”