UMass names new vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life

Hephner LaBanc will begin her new role in January 2020.

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Irina Costache, Assistant News Editor

The University of Massachusetts announced on Oct. 21 that it has named a new vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, Brandi Hephner LaBanc. Hephner LaBanc will be replacing the current interim vice chancellor, Rolanda Burney, once she begins her duties in January of 2020.

Student Affairs and Campus Life works to “create a supportive living and learning environment of responsive care and support for retention, graduation and success beyond college” through eight functions, including “foster[ing a] positive campus climate,” “cultivat[ing] inclusion and diversity” and “support[ing] wellness, health and safety.”

The search committee for the new vice chancellor included “two undergraduate students and two graduate students,” according to Ed Blaguszewski, executive director of strategic communications for UMass News and Media Relations. “Each of them had full voting rights equal to the voting rights of any other committee member. They were active participants in the committee’s deliberations and votes.”

The committee was appointed by Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and chaired by John J. McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs.

In the press release announcing Hephner LaBanc’s appointment, Subbaswamy spoke about the decision to choose Hephner LaBanc for the decision. “Her demonstrated commitment to deep collaboration between student affairs and academic affairs, an essential aspect to student success at UMass Amherst, make her an excellent choice for our campus,” he said.

Hephner LaBanc did not reply to requests for an interview, but stated in the press release that she “was drawn to the opportunity to contribute to UMass Amherst’s leadership in academic and student success” and “look[s] forward to meeting members of the campus community, and collaborating alongside impressive student affairs and campus life colleagues to enhance the student experience.”

Hephner LaBanc will be joining UMass from the University of Mississippi, where she has served as the first female vice chancellor for student affairs since 2012. She has also worked as an associate professor of higher education from 2012-19 and a professor of higher education since July 2019.

Having over a decade of experience in higher education, Hephner LaBanc served prior as both the associate vice president in the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and as the assistant vice president for planning and operations at Northern Illinois University from 2009-12, where she also earned her doctoral degree in adult in higher education in 2010.

Hephner LaBanc has been recognized by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators as a Pillar of the Profession for 2020. In the press release, it is also stated that “at Ole Miss, she was particularly honored when she received the Lift Every Voice award, a highly regarded diversity and inclusion honor bestowed by colleague and student nominations.”

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @irinaacostache.