Message from the President: Welcome to our new Vice President for Student Affairs

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

The following message was sent from President Wallace Loh to the University of Maryland community on Thursday, October 3.

Dear University of Maryland community,

I'm pleased to announce the appointment of our new Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA), Dr. Patricia Perillo, who currently holds the same position at Virginia Tech.

At this land-grant and research-intensive institution, she has served with transformative impact for the past seven years. She is also an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in its School of Education. Her start date is January 20, 2020.

Dr. Perillo spent several years on our campus and knows it well. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2002 in the interdisciplinary program on Public and Community Health, while working in residential housing. She views her new position as "coming home," after two decades of experience at three different institutions.

She continued her professional career at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as Director of Student Life, and then rose to Assistant VP for Student Affairs. Next, she served as Associate Dean of Students at Davidson College (N.C.), and in 2012 moved to become VPSA at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Perillo’s peers regard her as "a major national player” in the profession. She served as president of the American College Personnel Association in 2008-09, an organization of student affairs officials from colleges across the country and abroad.

As a student-centered leader, she is known for caring deeply about the student experience. She makes herself accessible to students. Her colleagues laud her empathy, her passion to help students who need support, her even temperament, and her even-handed management in conflict situations. She has an abiding commitment to academic excellence, social justice and building community.

At Virginia Tech, she worked with Academic Affairs to better align the curricular and co-curricular, and advance holistic learning. She also worked with the IT and Administrative Affairs divisions to enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiencies in Student Affairs. She starts here at a propitious time, as we begin a major and multi-year project to modernize the organizational processes and technology infrastructure of our student system, administrative system, and financial system, so that these distinct systems can operate more efficiently and in harmony.

Our Division of Student Affairs (DSA) is a large and complex organization, with hundreds of staff members in 13 departments. Its work could not be more important to our campus. Its primary mission is to support the academic success, development, and well-being of our 40,000 students. It also endeavors to make our campus community more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. This work requires collaboration between departments within Student Affairs, as well as partnerships with other University units.

Our DSA has outstanding staff who are deeply dedicated to our students. Many have served here for many years, faithfully and well. Our staff is the reason why the University of Maryland is recognized as having one of the premier student affairs divisions in the country. This is one of the main legacies of Dr. Linda Clement, who recently retired after serving with distinction as our VPSA for 18 years.

Dr. Perillo is eager to work with the talented DSA staff and with colleagues in other campus units, and lead Student Affairs to the next level of service, innovation, and impact. She plans to be on campus on November 11-13, December 2-6, and January 8-10 to meet with the DSA staff and other University stakeholders to begin the transition process. Please join me in welcoming her back to the campus.

My appreciation to the faculty, students, and staff who served on the search committee for the new VPSA, led by Dean Jennifer King of the College of Education. The committee labored long hours to conduct a comprehensive national search, interview 10 semi-finalists, and recommend three outstanding finalists. My appreciation to the many students, faculty, staff, and administrators who met with the finalists and provided comments. I also want to thank the finalists for agreeing to be considered. The fact that they have advanced to this stage of the process indicates that they have the qualities and record of success for this position.

And, thank you to Dr. John Zacker, Assistant VP for Student Affairs, for serving as the Interim VPSA.


Wallace D. Loh
President, University of Maryland

Student Affairs