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Spotlight: Annemarie Seifert

When I was first welcomed into the office of Dr. Annemarie Seifert, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), it was apparent to me, from her genuine curiosity and concern about my campus and personal life as a student, that she believes in the University’s motto, “Students come first.” Dr. Seifert plays a supporting role in Student Affairs and Campus Life, and we discussed her efforts towards future endeavors for UMass students.

Dr. Seifert, in her capacity as an Associate Vice Chancellor, works with the Center for Student Development (CSD). She made the important distinction that CSD is not a single unit. Students often only associate CSD with Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). She emphasized that CSD is comprised of fifteen different departments. In addition to supporting the RSOs, CSD also supports the Student Government Association, Student Legal Services, Craft Center, Daily Collegian, TV station, student-run businesses, and fraternities and sororities. She also oversees the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, the Stonewall Center and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

Dr. Seifert has key objectives in mind regarding student development. She is looking at student experiences in order to develop students’ potential outside of the classroom. Moreover, she said, “It is vital to not only know how to develop program services, but also how to deliver them by collaborating with students.” Dr. Seifert has engaged in the evaluation of co-curricular activities to ensure that there is intentional learning outcomes for all student leaders who choose to participate in activities outside the classroom. Looking closely at leadership development, for instance, Dr. Seifert believes that by participating in RSOs and other student organizations, students can acquire the critical skills they need to succeed at UMass and beyond. She said, “We want to prepare students to be global citizens.” Another of Dr. Seifert’s goal is to have a more holistic approach to education. Her ambition to help students succeed is evident through her passion and foresight.

There are challenges when working with a large campus. Dr. Seifert acknowledged that reaching out to all students and meeting the needs of everyone in a large student population can be daunting. One of the struggles Dr. Seifert mentioned has been the difficulty of finding the common thread that ties the UMass community together. She asked, “Why are students still wearing UConn sweaters at UMass?” Dr. Seifert added that students have not been able to articulate to her what their common life experience is at UMass, and that is a community issue. She envisions a civic engagement between her and students to find out what is cohesive: what brings students together.

Despite challenges, Dr. Seifert expresses her joy in being able to intellectually engage with students everyday. She said, “I am inspired, encouraged, challenged by students on a daily basis… the amazing and special things that students do everyday. I think students on this campus are passionate.” She also mentioned how the CSD staff care and work hard for students. She plans to continue working with the CSD staff to ensure that programs and events offered to students engage them and provide student leaders the opportunity for growth and development

Dr. Seifert spoke with passion and vigor about her plans to provide UMass students with an enriching experience that will direct them towards a more well-rounded and all-inclusive education. Her motivation and drive is inspiring and tangible. As a student, I look forward to working with Dr. Seifert and contributing to the UMass legacy.

Stefanie Chin, CMASS Webwriter