The Division of Student Affairs welcomes two new associate vice presidents

Contact: Michael Smith

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—After a months-long search, the Division of Student Affairs is excited to welcome Dr. Reetha Raveendran as associate vice president and dean of students and Dr. Barry Olson as associate vice president of campus life. They will join Student Affairs on Monday, Oct. 4.

Dr. Reetha Raveendran, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students 

Dr. Reetha Raveendran will be joining Western Michigan University's Division of Student Affairs as the new Associate Vice President and Dean of Students. She replaces Dr. Suzie Nagel-Bennett, who has retired after 23 years to the University.

Dr. Raveendran comes to WMU from the University of Michigan where she served as the director of student affairs in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She has held numerous key roles in student affairs for the college including providing strategic leadership and direction for recruitment, admissions, financial aid, academic advising, records and registration, academic standards, curricular/co-curricular learning activities and student support services.

Dr. Raveendran is well respected as a collaborative leader with a background in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She served as a key stakeholder and partner within Taubman to foster a diverse, inclusive and multicultural student experience. Dr. Raveendran is a strong advocate for holistic development for students through curricular support and co-curricular involvement, and has worked collaboratively with academic leadership, faculty, staff, students and alumni to promote student learning, wellness and engagement. In addition, she served as the Taubman senior judicial officer where she managed crises related to student organization behavior, and oversaw conflict resolution for individual students and between student organizations.

Dr. Raveendran has held numerous positions at a variety of institutions, both large and small, public and private – all dedicated to students and their success. Prior to joining the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, she held positions with Yale-NUS College in Singapore, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Heidelberg University in Ohio and DePauw University in Indiana.

Dr. Raveendran holds a doctor of education degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She received her master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Barry A. Olson, Associate Vice President of Campus Life

Dr. Barry A. Olson will be joining Western Michigan University's Division of Student Affairs as the new Associate Vice President, Campus Life. He replaces Vernon Payne, who retired in January after 39 years of service to the University.

Dr. Olson comes to WMU from North Carolina State University where he served as the associate vice chancellor of academic and student affairs. He is known for his focus on the interests and experiences of students. His emphasis on being student-centered at NC State included facilitating campus-wide programming focusing primarily on race, privilege and engaging in difficult dialogues. He also served as an advisor to student clubs and organizations and fraternities.

He has held multiple roles in the academic and student affairs division at NC State overseeing a broad portfolio of business administration initiatives as well as managing facilities, finance and human resources. Dr. Olson's key responsibilities included overseeing roughly $126 million student fees and auxiliary monies within the division, as well as leading the management of division debt and long-range financial and capital renewal planning. He was instrumental in orchestrating the successful restructuring of university housing. Dr. Olson is praised for his ability to build collaborative connections with campus partners. One highlight is the creation, construction and completion of a $120-million, 1,200-bed apartment complex on the NC State campus.

Dr. Olson is a professor of practice in the College of Education at NC State, and has held several roles at the university in the areas of facilities, housing and residence life, Greek life, student leadership and engagement, and business administration. Prior to his time at NC State, he also held positions in student life and housing at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.

Dr. Olson holds a doctor of education degree from NC State. He earned a master's degree in student affairs leadership at Grand Valley State, and received a bachelor's degree in speech communications from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

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