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Gina Casalegno announces Student Affairs candidacy; fifth town hall held

Last week, Gina Casalegno became the fifth candidate for the new dean of Student Affairs. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Contributing Editor) Last week, Gina Casalegno became the fifth candidate for the new dean of Student Affairs. (credit: Patrick Gage Kelley/Contributing Editor)

Gina Casalegno, interim director of the Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) and previous director of Student Activities, was interviewed on Tuesday for the dean of Student Affairs position.

Four candidates were previously identified through a search that began in late January and that was assisted by the search firm Isaacson Miller. The process was opened to the campus community April 20–29 through a series of town hall meetings, as mentioned in a previous article published in the April 26 edition of The Tartan. The remaining candidates have been notified that an internal candidate, Casalegno, has come forward late in the process and is currently also under consideration. Casalegno served as part of the Student Affairs leadership team that was present at the prior interviews.

In response to Casalegno's recent candidacy, a fifth town hall meeting was held Tuesday, May 25. In a nearly full Danforth Lounge, Casalegno spoke of her experience and deep connection from the eight years she has spent learning to "know and love CMU" as well as why she had only applied for the position the week before. She expressed trepidation toward taking on the role of dean of Student Affairs and filling the much-loved position previously held by Karen Boyd, Dick Tucker, Jennifer Church, and Michael Murphy. She also cited concerns about balancing the role with her family life.

Through conversations with Murphy, who is now vice president for Campus Affairs, Casalegno realized she had come to a point where the deanship made sense. Describing herself as someone who always leaves positions "kicking and screaming" because she knows she "still has things to learn and more to give," she said she was now at the point where she could stand before the campus community ready for the role.

During Tuesday's town hall meeting, Casalegno fielded questions on emergency response preparations, her vision for the Division of Student Affairs, the legacies that Church and Murphy created as deans, the college liaison model, parent involvement, Carnegie Mellon's relationship with Pittsburgh, and issues of school spirit. She handled these questions with a sure understanding of the idiosyncrasies of Carnegie Mellon, addressing almost every student, faculty, and staff member in the room by name.

Throughout the meeting she openly discussed her unconventional, late candidacy, her experiences in Residence Life, Student Activities, her current involvement with the CPDC, and her family's role in her life. She concluded by stating that "you make choices and you prioritize," but kept returning to the excitement she feels whenever she describes the student experience at such an "authentic, genuine place."