Lamb trades Hardin office for student center

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, sits at his desk in his new office on Aug. 15. Originally located in Hardin Administration Building, Lamb now resides in Clark Student Center, room 108. Photo by Kara McIntyre

Students hurry to get in the Chick-Fil-A line. A group of juniors plays pool in the rec room. The computer lab fills with procrastinating students, rushing to print their essays before class. A few students wander to the bookstore to spend money they don’t really have on MSU gear they don’t really need.

These are all sights seen walking through Clark Student Center, but down a newly renovated hallway in the Career Management Center, Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, sits in his new office — away from the quiet halls of the Hardin Administration Building, where he used to reside.

This is Lamb’s sixth office in his 18 years at MSU. His office used to be room 112 in Hardin, but now he sits comfortably in his new office across from the bookstore.

“We’ve been talking about [the office move] for awhile. It’s been a process, but we were finally able to make it happen,” Lamb said.

Dean of Students Matt Park’s assistant retired last semester, so university administration decided to eliminate the position altogether and restructure the student affairs department around that, according to Lamb. They did a small, roughly $20,000 renovation in the Career Management Center — so Lamb’s and Park’s offices could share a space.

“Even though [the new office] is across the street, it’s important for the vice president to be where the students are, and that wasn’t in Hardin,” Lamb said. “We [Lamb and Park] now have a central location and share resources, instead of being in two different buildings having two completely different experiences with students.”

The goal was to create a student affairs “suite” as Lamb called it, so that students can have one central place to go in relation to student affairs.

“I am the student’s vice president. I represent students at the senior administrative level,” Lamb said. “I help make sure their needs are being met and they’re getting everything they need to be successful.”

Lamb discussed the importance of informal interaction with students and how that pertains to his job.

“I’ve learned that informal interaction is the best way to get the real information from students,” Lamb said. “If I want to go get a soda from the vending machine down the hall, I’ll inevitably run into students because I’m now in the student center, and I’ll get to talk with them in an informal manner. That didn’t happen when I was in Hardin.”

Because of the elimination of the Park’s assistant position, the university will be saving about $50,000 total from not having to pay salary and benefits to another faculty member. Despite the slight increase in workload, Lamb said he and Park are ready for the challenge.

“Technology has changed the way we all work. We now do our own correspondence, our own schedules, using our own phones. We don’t have to have that middle man anymore,” Lamb said. “It’s naïve to think that we could eliminate an entire position and think there wouldn’t be more work, but it’ll be worth it in the end.”

Lamb said the student affairs “suite” has an open door policy, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“[The students should] feel free to drop in. I’m here to serve the students and make sure the university is giving them everything they need to succeed,” Lamb said. “Of course, not every single request can be fulfilled, but we do our best.”

This open door policy and informal interactions will allow Lamb to better serve his position, he said.

“Students can express what works, what doesn’t work, or they can just drop by to visit. The latter doesn’t happen a lot, but we really enjoy when it does,” Lamb said. “We exist to serve them in whatever capacity they need.”