Stephen Sutton appointed as UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for student affairs

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On July 1, Stephen Sutton assumed the permanent position of vice chancellor for student affairs.

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos announced Sutton’s appointment in a campuswide email Wednesday. Sutton was appointed in January 2017 as interim vice chancellor for student affairs after the retirement of his predecessor and colleague Harry Le Grande at the end of 2016.

According to the campuswide email announcing Sutton’s appointment, Sutton began at UC Berkeley in 1987 as a residential life coordinator. He later assumed administrative positions as a student adviser at other universities and then returned to UC Berkeley to work in the Office of Student Development and later in Residential and Housing Services as well as Residential and Student Service Programs.

“In the midst of our unprecedented financial challenges, he has navigated budget cuts with a focus on minimizing the impact to students,” Christ and Alivisatos said in the campuswide email.

Sutton originally planned on becoming a doctor, receiving a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, but he changed his mind after working as a resident assistant, or RA, while attending Ohio State University to help pay for his tuition. From that point on, Sutton said he realized that he enjoyed working in student communities and helping students. He later went on to get his doctorate in educational administration and supervision from the University of Houston.

In his interim term, Sutton worked closely with the chancellor and others on creating communities through events such as fireside chats with students. These conversations touched on topics such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, free speech and higher education funding, in an effort to listen to and understand student perspectives, Sutton said.

Additionally, Sutton and his office have been instrumental in the managing large campus events and guest speakers, working closely with student organizations and UCPD to ensure both safety and freedom of speech.

Sutton said his main goals are addressing the campus housing crisis, freedom of speech and DACA, to list a few.

“I would say the most important thing is that we are advocating for students — students of all different majors and backgrounds,” Sutton said. “They continue to need advocacy on all different levels of the campus.”

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said that while it is important for the Division of Student Affairs to address issues of housing, student experiences and other services, it is important for students to have administrators who can listen and work with them.

Khalfay, who has worked with Sutton on various topics such as the Commission on Free Speech, said her experiences with Sutton have been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“He cares deeply about the students on campus and cares deeply in his role in enhancing the experience for students on campus,” Khalfay said. “He always asks the right questions and listens to what communities are saying and what they need.”

Contact Nathan Chin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @NathanChin9.