by GABRIELLA DEPINHO, News Editor
In the wake of Andrew Weingarten’s departure from Manhattan College, a search for a suitable replacement took place, concluding when the college found Charles Clency, a seasoned Residence Life administrator.
Clency started at Manhattan in early November, after departing from a position he held for 11 years at University of North Carolina Greensboro. In total, Clency has worked in residence life for 22 years.
According to Dean of Students Michael Carey, who served as interim director of residence life, the search for Weingarten’s replacement was national that eventually narrowed down to eight interviews and then five on-campus visits.
“It was a really diverse group which we were happy about.” said Carey, “There was faculty involved, too. We had the few finalists and they were all actually really good and they all had different strengths. Charles just won out. He’s really experienced… It just felt like Charles, for what we’re trying to do, just seemed like the right fit and the right experience.”
Clency was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., which is also where he attended graduate school at Canisius College. While in graduate school, he held a graduate assistantship as a residence hall director.
Clency was attracted to Manhattan College for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional, including that he has family in the Bronx and that the college was a good fit for him.
“The fact that I was looking to come back to a private, religious sector school and I kind of prefer to be at a smaller school because the relationships you can build with the students, the staff and the peer group, I prefer,” said Clency. “Manhattan College just happened to come on the board as I was looking to make my next professional advancement move. It was perfect timing. It allowed me to capture all of the things I was looking for.”
Clency came in during the middle of the fall semester, as students were finally settled into their dorms, at the backend of the molding issue and as other issues were cropping up, but he found that this was what he considered to be the best time to come in.
Clency said, “I was asked if this was the best time to come in and people were concerned about my adjustment but I liked coming in at that time because I was able to really get to the root of the problems. There was no sugar coating, no orientation process. Honestly, knowing what I knew from my past, I knew that there was going to be some ups and downs. I just needed to learn the culture.”
He recognizes that a lot of the work he’s been doing has been dealing with the infrastructure problems of the residence halls.
“I’ve been spending more of my time dealing with physical structure stuff. I will say, I heard it all when I came in and I saw bits and pieces of how it all played out but I will say that at this point, I think things have improved in the three months I’ve been here… I think our relationship has been superb and it’s starting to show up,” said Clency.
While he has only been here for a short few months, Clency has already started generating new ideas and working to improve the office of Residence Life.
In regards to the student experience, Clency said, “We’re planning, I can tell you, programatically, that we’ll be focusing on student leadership, civic engagement, diversity and inclusion and our Lasallian values that are foundational to this institution. Those are just a few things but it’s really in an effort to work on the whole student, to give them a well rounded experience.”
He also discussed the plan to implement hall councils in association with the Student Government Assembly.
“We’re going to put in place some hall councils so we can hear voices and how students are receiving what we’re trying to provide, so they can have a voice in their living experience in terms of building a community. So those are things that will be panned out as we go into fall 2019. I’ve been working closely with [the Resident Student Association], which is our link to SGA, to make that become a reality,” said Clency.
Isabel Quinones, VP of residential affairs, talked about her positive experience working with Clency thus far.
“He has a lot of good ideas. We’re planning dorm wars for this semester and he likes the idea and I’m hoping to get more of his input on it so we’re going to meet about that… He really wants to give students the chance to be more vocal about the issues that are happening so I think that’s a good idea, giving power to the students,” said Quinones.
Clency also addressed the rumors that have started spreading about the implementation of a two year housing requirement for students.
“It will happen as the fall 2019 class comes in. It will be a two year requirement to stay on campus. Anyone who is currently in the residence halls will be grandfathered out, so this won’t be applicable to them,” said Clency.
“Although I’m the person who is set to implement it, this is a decision that was pretty much discussed before I came in,” said Clency. “I’m just the one who knows how to do it. We know there’ll be some patchiness because it’s a different culture but it’s not unique.”
Clency explained that anyone whose home address is listed in a believable and feasible commuting distance from the college will not be forced to reside on campus. However, students who decide to reside on campus will be required to stay on campus for two years.
For Clency, this requirement comes down to giving students a more comprehensive way to feel connected to the school. However, he doesn’t want commuter students to feel left out, so he plans to partner with Marilyn Carter, the director of commuter affairs, to host student-driven events to bring resident and commuter students together.
One other change that Clency hopes to introduce in the 2019-2020 school year is allowing rising sophomores to apply to be Resident Assistants. As of right now, only rising juniors and seniors can apply for the position, which is how it will stay for this year’s application process, but this stipulation might change in the future.
“The goal there is to catch potential student leaders earlier, get them the training and have them impact the community for a longer period of time. Right now we’re capturing juniors and sometimes seniors so that limits how much time you have with them where they can impact the community,” said Clency.
“In my history, I’ve had wonderful RAs who were sophomores and I’ve seen some of them be even more successful at connecting with the freshmen because it’s fresh and they just came out of those experiences.”
With all these changes coming down the pipeline, Charles Clency is committed to knowing what students at Manhattan need to have positive experiences in the residence halls, while also using his past experiences and knowledge to move Manhattan College forward.
“I knew there was a real need to develop the structure and someone who has a vision on where to take a res life program and I think the students already shared that with Dean Carey prior to me coming in. I guess I fit the bill since they hired me,” said Clency.