John Sears, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and director of Housing and Residential Life, officially put in his resignation this past Tuesday stating that his last day at the University of Rhode Island will be Friday, April 14.
“He officially resigned yesterday [Tuesday],” said Dave Lavallee, assistant director of communications. Because it was Sears’s decision to resign, Lavallee had no further information that he could release to the public about why Sears has decided to leave so abruptly.
Last semester, HRL under-went a state audit that found “no indication that corrective action occurred for reportable deficiencies” for annual fire inspections, according to the audit. The report stated that “housing needed to improve ensuring documented and corrective actions taken.” Earlier this year, the University released a statement regarding the misappropriation of student fees intended for housing. These fees were instead put towards personalized M&Ms for former URI Vice President Tom Dougan.
Starting on Saturday April 15, following Sears’s last day as director, Kathy Collins, vice president of Student Affairs, will be taking over responsibilities as interim director of Housing and Residential Life along with her other duties as vice president of Student Affairs.
Lavallee has said that they will pursue a national search for someone to fill the shoes of John Sears as assistant vice president of Student Affairs and director of HRL. The search for this application will probably happen “in the near future,” although specific planning has not been discussed as of yet, Lavallee said. “We aren’t going to let this position go unfilled.”
Here since 2013, Sears and his team at Housing and Residential Life have been extremely aggressive with their asset protection plan in the residential buildings on campus. The Roger Williams Complex has undergone extensive renovations and improvements, in the end totaling somewhere between $15-17 million. Smaller projects have also been dealt with in the other dorms around campus in an attempt to keep all of the buildings in top shape.
“We’re always looking to make sure we’re meeting the students’ needs and how they’re living on campus,” said Sears in an interview with The Cigar last December. “Our work has paid off by increased demand from upperclassmen. More and more returning students want to stick around on campus housing… our big challenge is meeting the demand of our returning students, [international students, transfer students], and also the new students.”
Unfortunately, Sears will not be around for HRL’s newest project, Brookside Apartments. This 500-bed, apartment style complex is slated to open the summer of 2019 and will reside in the current space of the Dairy Barn Parking Lot.
Lavallee would like to point out that, “the University wishes John Sears well in his future endeavors.”
EDIT: We reported that the M&Ms purchased with student housing fees were for another university’s vice president. The M&Ms were instead for Tom Dougan, a former URI vice president. We apologize for any confusion.