Though the cinderblock walls of her new windowless office in Forcina Hall are bare and uninviting, Wanda Anderson’s excitement over her latest position as the director of the Center for Academic Success (CAS) warms and brightens the room.
Within the last year, Anderson also served as Leadership Development and Training Director for Student Life and, prior to that, as Director of Campus Life. Having been shuffled around and bringing a lawsuit against the College that has since been dropped, she is finally right where she wants to be.
“I absolutely feel so honored to have this position,” she said, wide-eyed with enthusiasm. “It’s a position that’s going to reach out to every student regardless of race, income and class standing to provide them with opportunities to increase their success.”
Working with a diverse group of students is exactly what Anderson felt she missed out on when she became Leadership Development and Training Director in March.
Due to her specialization, Anderson was placed in the position after the vice president for Student Life, Mary-Elaine Perry, reorganized the office.
The changes in part redistributed the Director of Campus Life’s responsibilities to oversee various extracurricular organizations and programs, making the title obsolete.
Anderson moved from working in the midst of student leaders, in the area now known as Campus Activities on the second floor of Brower Student Center, to the office of the Vice President for Student Life.
As a result of losing her position as advisor of the Student Government Association (SGA), the Student Finance Board (SFB) and the College Union Board (CUB), among others, Anderson missed interacting with students, with the exception of those in the Black Student Union (BSU), of which she remains advisor.
“I love working with culturally distinct students. I consider myself a very afro-centric woman,” she said. However, she said she “never came into this field to work specifically with and only with students who look like (her).”
Anderson said she was dissatisfied when she was not given options after the elimination of her job. Afterward, she filed a lawsuit against the College, one which she has dropped since becoming director of CAS. She will not disclose any details, saying the case is now null and void.
At the time of Anderson’s move from Campus Life, another African-American director, Todd McCrary, was also relocated. Some students wondered whether removing the only two black supervisors, leaving three white men in charge of Campus Activities, was a race issue.
Jocelyn Charlon, president of Uni?n Latina and junior nursing major, said. she is positive it wasn’t because Wanda wasn’t doing her job correctly. “I can attest to her dedication and performance. I thought it was completely unfair,” she said.
Anderson said she’s not quick to say that everything’s about race. She said Perry never intended her second position to be a demotion.
Anderson said the department of Academic Services had nothing to do with the issues in Student Life and that CAS had already been in the works – it was not created just for her.
CAS was developed to help students enhance their study skills and network with alumni and professors in their fields of interest.
“It was a timing thing,” she said about the offer coming along at a point when she was unhappy with her former position. “It worked out very well, with the divine universe working in the way that it does.”