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Klawunn to leave post as head of student life

Long-time admin’s legacy includes facilities renovations, student services expansions

Updated on Monday, June 22 at 3:50p.m.

After nearly two decades at the University, Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, will leave to become vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of California at Santa Barbara, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Friday. Klawunn will end her tenure at the start of August and begin her post at UCSB in September.

The announcement comes exactly one month after the news that Provost Vicki Colvin would be stepping down after one year in her position, adding to a period that has been marked by notably high administrative turnover at the top levels. Richard Locke, director of the Watson Institute for International Studies took over as Provost at the beginning of this month.

Klawunn’s passion for integrating students’ academic and campus experiences, combined with a desire to be near family, made the move appealing, Paxson wrote.

Klawunn’s husband graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and her daughter currently attends the University of California at Santa Cruz. The job opening’s UC label is what originally placed the position on her radar, Klawunn said.

As head of the Office of Student Life, Klawunn has helped define the student experience, overseeing a wide range of projects aimed at restructuring Brown’s physical landscape, while reshaping student services, placing particular attention on the importance of advising and diversity.

During her tenure, many student facilities, including residence halls, student centers and athletic facilities, have undergone renovations, while several student services, including the University’s Health and Counseling and Psychological Services as well as the LGBTQ Center, have been expanded.

Klawunn also served as the administrative contact for many student clubs and centers, working with diverse organizations to identify student needs and construct solutions.

In her new position, Klawunn will continue working toward greater integration of academic and campus experiences, including through the admission process. Klawunn said participating in the admission process will grant her greater input in selection of the student body and how that population is served.

Klawunn has been “a teacher, an adviser, and a mentor to so many students,” wrote Cass Cliatt, vice president for communications, in an email to The Herald. At graduation this year, “barely a class went by of graduates of the past two decades without someone running over and hugging her, thanking her, or giving her a jubilant or victorious high-five,” Cliatt added.

Klawunn “strengthened the student experience outside the classroom in ways that shaped a Brown education for thousands of students over the years, and that will have a lasting impact for generations of students to come,” Paxson wrote in the email.

Klawunn’s impact “can be both seen and felt,” Cliatt wrote. “The collaboration and partnerships that Campus Life built with the Office of the Dean of the College have helped build a support structure for meeting student needs that bridges extracurricular and academic life.”

Klawunn’s tenure was not without controversy, particularly associated with her role in University disciplinary processes.

In 2014, Lena Sclove, a former student, implicated Klawunn, among other University administrators, in mishandling the disciplinary process in her sexual assault case. After the accused assailant was suspended for one year, Sclove appealed the decision. Klawunn reviewed the case and denied the appeal. In wake of the decision, Sclove worked with Legal Momentum, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the legal rights of women, to file Title IX and Clery Act complaints with the U.S. Department of Education against the University.

Klawunn was also a visible University spokeswoman throughout the cases of the alleged drugging of two female students at an unregistered party at Phi Kappa Psi in October 2014 and the alleged sexual assault of one of the two girls later that same night. She continued to serve as the University’s voice in campus-wide emails, along with Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA ’06, throughout the decision-making and appeal processes surrounding the events.

Klawunn first joined the faculty in 1996, teaching in the English and gender studies departments while serving as director of the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center. She was named associate dean of the college in 2000 and assumed her current position in 2008. Klawunn also served as interim dean of the College for six months in 2014.

“I have had an amazing progression of opportunities here at Brown and am extremely grateful,” Klawunn said.

A successor has not yet been selected. The University will undergo a national search for Klawunn’s replacement, Paxson wrote.

“The search for a successor naturally will seek to identify a leader who believes deeply in advocating for the needs of Brown students,” Cliatt wrote.

-With additional reporting by Drew Williams 



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