Dr. Chris Riley, vice president for Student Life, will leave the Office of Student Life at the end of the semester to take a new role in the provost’s office.
He will replace the retiring Dr. Tom Milholland, as the assistant provost for institutional research and SACSCOC liaison. He will also teach classes in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice. University leadership will form a search committee and may hire a national search firm to find a new vice president for Student Life, said Kevin Campbell, vice president for enrollment management and student engagement.
Riley will work with the school’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, to maintain academic requirements. Riley said the role fits his studies in institutional research as he earns a master’s in public administration at Penn State University with a certificate in institutional research. The new role will allow Riley more time to teach classes and serve as an elder at Highland Church of Christ, he said.
“I prayed that God would allow me to keep serving in a meaningful way at ACU,” Riley said, “but also find a work-life balance that I felt God has called me to at this stage in my family’s life. And God was faithful.”
Riley became vice president for Student Life in 2014. His role involved serving on the Senior Leadership Team, implementing policies for students and overseeing the Office of Student Life.
“I have been blessed to work alongside many inspiring colleagues in Student Life,” Riley said. “So much of what I have learned has come from those that I am blessed to call my friends and co-workers, who I will miss seeing on a daily basis.”
Riley supervised the Student Government Association and worked directly with SGA president Danny Burke. He also attended Student Congress meetings and helped the SGA cabinet work with the administration.
“I have so much respect for the humility and the gentleness that he leads in, while also being firm,” said Burke, senior marketing major from Seymour, Indiana. “He is incredibly thoughtful and very supportive and encouraging, which I have really needed and appreciated this past year.”
Burke said the next vice president for Student Life should be someone who has humility, good communication skills and knows how to balance the needs of both students and the administration.
“Being able to, whenever you’re talking to students, honor the university and whenever you’re talking with the university, honoring students and definitely there’s a tension between the two,” Burke said. “Having someone who can honor both is a weight and a burden to carry, but it’s also a privilege to be able to share things with students’ lives and to lead them.”
Campbell said the last search for a vice president for Student Life took nine-12 months, and Dr. Jan Meyer served as the interim vice president before Riley was hired. Campbell said he hopes to have a new vice president hired by the fall, but in the meantime, the Office of Student Life will report to him. An interim position may be created if no one is hired by the fall.
Riley currently oversees two search committees for a new director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and a university chaplain. The OMA director position opened when Prentice Ashford left for Lipscomb University during spring break. The chaplain position was created last spring, and the university has been in the hiring process for a year. Campbell said those searches will continue under his leadership.
“A lot of it is a continuation of what Chris was already planning on doing for the summer,” Campbell said. “I hope to continue the momentum forward on that search.”
Campbell said his office has interviewed several national search firms, although a university search committee will also be created to find a new vice president for Student Life. Universities often use search firms to hire executive leaders or deans from a national applicant pool, said Campbell.
“Chris was a great vice president for Student Life,” Campbell said. “So I’ll be looking for somebody who has many of the same characteristics that Chris had.”