Two veteran leaders in the Division of Student Affairs are being appointed to key roles on an interim basis to take over duties currently handled by Dean of Students Eleanor “Elly” JB Daugherty, who is leaving UConn in January.
Daugherty, who also is UConn’s assistant vice president for student affairs, announced earlier this semester that she will be joining Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as its vice president for student affairs.
Michael Gilbert, UConn’s vice president for student affairs, announced Wednesday that her duties will be split between two seasoned leaders currently in the division: Pamela Schipani is being appointed as interim assistant vice president of student affairs, and Fany DeJesús Hannon will serve as interim dean of students.
Both have deep roots in various aspects of serving UConn’s students, with Schipani having served as executive director of residential life for the past nine years, and Hannon directing the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) for 10 years.
Gilbert’s announcement came in tandem with the UConn Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Justice’s announcement that Michael Vidal, its current director for diversity and inclusion initiatives, will serve as interim PRLACC director while Hannon is interim dean of students.
The appointments became official this week, giving each interim leader an opportunity to work with their predecessors to ensure a smooth transition when Daugherty leaves at the end of the calendar year.
Daugherty came to UConn from the University of Chicago in August 2014, rebuilding and expanding the scope of the Dean of Students Office, which had been disbanded several years earlier during a reorganization plan.
“It would be difficult to overstate the positive impact Elly has had on our university and on student life here over the last nine years,” Gilbert said in a recent announcement to the campus community.
“Elly has set a very high bar,” he said. “While we are pleased for her personally on opening this new chapter of her professional life, we are very sorry to lose such a dedicated colleague and friend.”
Schipani take over Daugherty’s duties as interim assistant vice president for student affairs, a role that includes directing the offices of Residential Life, Student Care & Concern, Off-Campus & Commuter Student Services, and Community Standards.
Student Health & Wellness, which previously reported to the assistant vice president, will now report directly to Gilbert in recognition of the work underway to increase mental health resources and address other healthcare needs.
Schipani has been executive director of residential life for the past nine years of her 36-year career at UConn. In her current role, she leads a multi-unit department that serves more than 12,000 residential students at the Storrs and Stamford campuses, and has been instrumental in discussions and planning for new and renovated residence complexes over the years.
Schipani also previously held several positions in the Division of Student Affairs, including as housing services director, interim director of wellness and prevention services, associate director of residence education, coordinator of training and research, complex coordinator, and interim director of residential life technology services.
“Pam strives as a professional to contribute to a milieu that has at its core the welfare and success of students,” Gilbert said in his announcement. “She does this by living with a set of values that describe and guide her practice. These include care for self and others, diversity, excellence, engaged leadership, professionalism, and thoughtfulness.”
Schipani previously worked at UMass-Amherst and Alfred State College in Alfred, NY, and had served as a high school guidance counselor and social studies teacher.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, and education from SUNY Geneseo; a master’s degree in counseling from St. Bonaventure University; and a doctorate in education from New England College.
Hannon, a native of Honduras who came to the U.S. when she was 20, will serve as interim dean of students, a role that includes significant direct contact with students and work as a liaison to many other areas and offices within the University.
Under her 10 years as PRLACC’s director, the center has thrived in supporting self-identified Latinx/a/o students, staff, and faculty, while also engaging community members at large in the state, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Gilbert said.
“Her goal has been to support the students academically and emotionally so they can proudly graduate from UConn and contribute to the workforce of the state and beyond,” Gilbert said, noting that in her new role as interim dean of students, she will be “a significant resource focused on developing staff, programs, and services that allow UConn to provide for student success.”
Hannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and a minor in Brazilian studies from Smith College, and a master’s in higher education and student affairs from UConn.
She also is pursuing a doctorate degree in higher education administration from New England College with research centering on sense of belonging and support received in peer mentoring programs for self-identified Latinx/a/o college students.
Before becoming PRLACC’s director, Hannon worked for the UConn Foundation / Alumni Association as manager of student and young alumni relations, and at Miami Dade College in Florida as an academic adviser, program coordinator, and case manager.
Vidal will lead PRLACC on an interim basis in Hannon’s stead. Before joining UConn in 2021, he was director for diversity and inclusive excellence at Clark University, where he engaged internal and external partners to advance the institution’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
That work included coordinating the Bias Education and Response Team at Clark, its Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program for employees, and serving as principal investigator for its Survey on Campus Culture and Community.
Vidal, a first-generation college student, holds dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and international affairs from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in education in student development / social justice education from UMass-Amherst.
He has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses on intergroup dialogue, identity-based facilitation, and critical self-awareness. “His passion for creating sites of connection and care guides his practice as a mentor, colleague, and administrator in higher education,” Gilbert said.
In addition to her regular duties, Daugherty played essential roles in multiple major university efforts and initiatives, including as a key leader of task forces on student mental health and sexual assault, both of which led to important changes and advances at UConn.
She was also instrumental in UConn’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, playing a vital leadership role and advocating tirelessly on behalf of students, Gilbert said.
“Her exceptional work, and that of her whole team, was invaluable in allowing UConn to reopen and operate successfully beginning in the fall of 2020 and every semester since,” he said in his announcement earlier this fall about her departure.
UConn Board of Trustees members also had high praise for Daugherty at a recent meeting when discussing her departure, thanking her for her service and sharing stories of working with her on task forces, at events, and on committees.
“When you think about our students on our campuses and people who are here to help make that experience successful, there are very few people you’ll ever run into in your life who put as much of themselves into student welfare as Elly does,” board Chairman Dan Toscano said.
Board Vice-Chair Shari Cantor, who has worked with Daugherty on the trustees’ Student Life Committee, called her “an instrumental leader and so critical to our students’ success.”
“There’s never been a situation where she hasn’t stepped in with her heart and everything she could bring to that situation to make it better,” Cantor said. “We are going to miss her very much, but I’m so grateful for all of her work and effort that she has put in to make our students’ experiences better.”