Following the recent institutional changes at Cabrini, one that was a surprise to many was the merge of student life and athletics leadership positions. Kate Corcoran, who was formerly the Director of Athletics, soon took over not just one large department but two, as she was declared the vice president for athletics and student engagement on Nov. 16, 2022.
Students quickly wondered how this merger would operate and ultimately benefit all groups, especially those who aren’t athletes. As Cabrini is still in the process of integrating the department’s plans, the future looks bright for relationships between students, residents, services, and programming.
Start of the merger
Corcoran is working alongside, Dr. Anne Filippone, Bridget O’Donnell, Monica Carson, and Bryan Peightal, who in turn work closely with Student Engagement, Residence Life, and Counseling and Psychological Services, CaPS,.
Corcoran said, “Dr. Filippone, who has extensive knowledge in student life, has been a phenomenal resource for me. Monica Carson, who is our new director of residence life, while she is new to Cabrini, also has a wealth of knowledge in the student life field.” And Bridget O’Donnell within SEal and student engagement, really have been valuable resources for me as I hope to lead a new section of student life.” The “new section of student life” Kate mentioned, will integrate more open spaces where students can gather and freely interact with one another.
Corcoran’s new position can be overwhelming but she is finding balance and is setting goals with her colleagues.
“I think the idea behind this was to … maybe bring some of the expertise that comes from the athletic side of the house and re-envision what a student life model could be,” Corcoran said.
“It is very challenging right now because so many people are new to positions. Monica did not come to campus until late in the fall. We are trying to get a sense of how we work well together and prioritize,” Corcoran said.
Carson said, “The working relationship since Kate took over our division has been amazing. Kate is extremely passionate about student development. She’s been very conscious of making sure that we are paying attention to policies that are not in existence or need to be revamped to match the current need of our student population,” Carson said.
She added, “I appreciate Kate’s transparency in communicating with staff about the position of Cabrini right now [Regarding student and campus life] and also the support that she provides in making sure that we’re working to a level that produces the best quality of service for students.”
Improvements already in action
One immediate improvement to come from the merger affects CaPS and Health Services.
“We are transitioning back to an on-campus health services model after two years of being off campus. We hired our nurse, Kim Perry-Malloy, in October, and she has been working diligently to get that service back to fully functioning,” Corcoran said.
She added, “Mental health is an area that has been identified as a main priority. We are working to roll out a resource guide and then provide training for our faculty and staff so we can better equip our professionals and serve the needs of our students.”
Sydnee Reddy, senior digital communication and social media major and resident assistant, believes merging Athletics with Student Life will improve overall participation.
“I feel as though athletics have always been separate and it’s been its own little bubble. I’m glad it’s merged because I think it will do the school some good and lift school spirit in a way,” Reddy said.
Gazing into the future, Corcoran and her team hope to build more locations for students to assemble to create a stronger sense of community.
“One of the things that Anne and I are doing in the coming weeks is an assessment of the land within Student Life and how we can identify areas on campus that can be congregating areas. We’re looking at outdoor rec spaces potentially and some outdoor spaces that our students can gather in so that they are not cooped up in dorms,” Corcoran said.
Corcoran also sees room for collaboration and new programming as the merger progresses.
“Down the road, we could potentially see joint programming. I know our student athlete advisory committee is working with Bridget O’Donnell in SEaL … which will hopefully entice more people to come out to events, but that is a work in progress,” Corcoran said.
“Within Athletics, we get some limited NCAA grant money each year for specific areas of programming. We are looking at how we can use those funds to do programming across our entire student population and with student leaders as well,” Corcoran said.