New VP of Student Life Talks Upcoming Plans

Sr. Gray’s headshot as the new Vice President of Student Life at Manhattan College. MANHATTAN.EDU /COURTESY

By Isaiah Rosario, Staff Writer

The wait for a new vice president of student life is officially over.  Ronald Gray Ph.D is taking over for the former interim VP of student life, Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel. 

For Abreu-Hornbostel, the transition from interim vice president of student life to the associate vice president for student life and dean of students was practically seamless. 

“[The transition] was fairly seamless, I was doing both positions,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “I came to Manhattan College to be the dean of students. That was the goal and what happened was six weeks after my being on campus COVID started. I went very quickly into price management then our vice president left and he said, you’re working with the leadership team, to try to make sure that the students didn’t miss whatever they needed.”

Abreu-Hornbostel was part of the division that hired Gray for his new position. The division wanted to make sure that the next person was going to provide the needs that they had such as an engaged vice president.

“The whole division was very involved in making sure that the next person the incumbent was going to live up to some of the needs that we had, and also some of the hopes that we have to write in terms of a very engaged vice president, someone that the students could go to,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “Someone that had certain priorities in mind, all of us had a voice but for me, it was important that we got someone who cared deeply about students. I’m someone who understands that we’re in the middle of a crisis nationally, not only economically, but also psychologically and emotionally. Right. So I wanted an incumbent that could prioritize those areas that were important to me. Those were important. I think we got that with Dr. Gray.”

The former Penn State graduate and resident assistant officially began his duties as the new VP of student life in July of 2022. 

Gray spoke to the Quadrangle about some of his goals as the new VP of student life and intends to learn about the community of Manhattan College. 

“The first goal for me is to learn like the Manhattan community, learn a culture, learn with student needs, learn what students want,” Gray said. “That’s my first thought. I am trying to spend some time learning, and now that students are back I just tried to get out as much as I possibly can to introduce myself by talking to students.”

Gray emphasized his passion for improving the quality of life for Manhattan college students by collaborating with academic affairs. 

“The second goal is to learn from what we can do to make and improve the quality of life for students,” Gray said.  “Manhattan College is a strong school and we are going to build on that and collaborate with academic affairs to balance the co-curricular experience for the students so that students stay, and enjoy themselves…when I look back on my experience in college, I can say that was a blast. I had a lot of fun. I learned a lot. I grew a lot.”

An email with a survey was sent out last semester speaking about whether or not Manhattan College should become a university. Gray helped clear up the questions around whether or not the college will become a university or stay a college. 

“The college has to be careful, before we [become a university], there’s a lot of different requirements for a university,” Gray said. “If that is a decision that the college needs to make, I think we have to be smart before that happens. There are a lot of different ways in which that can impact the experience for students.” 

With rumors that Overlook Manor will be sold, Gray clarified that the institution and the board of trustees are interested in putting the building up on the market and are currently in the process of considering their options. Questions in regard to what will happen with Horan hall have been raised. Gray spoke on that issue. 

“Horan is going to have a renovation and every floor will have different types of living experience,” Gray said. “Apartment style is gonna have a couple of rooms that hold two individuals and different style bathrooms for those rooms, living room, a kitchenette. It’s exciting. The desire is to provide students with a variety of different living experiences here at the institution. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The residents of the college’s main concern was the bridge. Gray confirmed that the bridge will be opened but not before making sure safety procedures for the additional entrance have been implemented. 

Hope is high with Gray to continue to build a  relationship with student government by having meetings and staying vocal with each other. 

“My hope is that we can continue that building relationship and meeting and talk,” Gray said. “If there are opportunities, I want to take their lead if they say hey, there’s great there are some things that we want to do. Can we can you help? I want to follow their lead. I never want to impose, I remember as a student I don’t like it when the administrators impose on me so I never want to impose myself on them. I’ll make suggestions but I never would impose myself on a set but I’ll take their lead. They are helping me to give the students what they need.” 

Emma Pizzullo, the executive vice president of the student body, spoke to The Quadrangle about how pivotal their relationship with Gray is going to be for the upcoming school year. 

“Student life and student government go hand in hand, and Dr. Gray should be working with us relatively frequently. We met over the summer and that meeting went well. He’s very receptive to all of our recommendations or our requests for things. I think that he’s more than willing and we’re more than willing to meet with each other throughout the semester.” 

Pizzullo’s request for Gray is to have a line of open communication with the student government. If open communication transpires she believes that more enjoyable events can be brought to campus.