Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Fraternity and Sorority Advising Tristan Hilpert resigned effective immediately last week. Hilpert was hired in 2018 by the university, and served during the 2018-2019 academic year and into the current academic year.
Panhellenic Council President Casey Waite, who worked closely with Hilpert during his time at Colgate, described Hilpert as “the Panhellenic Council’s go-to for basically everything,” expressing the importance of his role to the continued functions of Greek life on campus.
“He gave us the go-ahead on all our ideas, approved every one of our events, and generally served as an advisor. I would have to guess that he interacted with the Panhellenic Council and me the most. I probably saw him more than any other fraternity or sorority leader” Waite said.
“He was supposed to come to two weekly meetings and he met with members of our executive board pretty often. His resignation will affect us greatly and I’m honestly concerned it could set us back. We are in the process of planning a lot of events and doing other things that we wanted his help with,” Waite said.
Waite said she feels weary regarding the effect of Hilpert’s sudden departure on students and the administration, but expressed confidence that proper alternatives are being put into place.
“Colgate has not determined who will take his place but Dean McLoughlin sent several student leaders an email about who they can contact within the dean of the college division. In my opinion, Amber Decker from CLSI will be one of the resources we use most moving forward. She was already our contact in CLSI and she helped us during recruitment week, so I know she is very knowledgeable and easy to work with,” Waite said.“[Hilpert’s] position is one that I think Colgate would want to have filled before he left, so his departure mid-October definitely threw Colgate Administration off.”
Junior Annie Knowles worked with Hilpert as a Recruitment Counselor (RC) this past fall. She shared that he was kind and willing to answer questions she had throughout the recruitment process, however she noticed some frustration within the Panhellenic Council.
“Hopefully someone will take over who gets along with and has more of a presence among Greek Life. I didn’t even know [Hilpert] or [that] his role existed until I became a Recruitment Counselor—which I think is kind of telling,” Knowles said.
Dean of the College Paul McLoughlin relayed the information of Hilpert’s resignation to fraternity and sorority presidents. McLoughlin expressed his thoughts regarding Hilpert’s resignation, outlining the immediate and long-term steps of the university to ensure minimal disruption to Colgate’s current Greek organizations.
“Your work will be supported by a team of colleagues, including myself, while we search for a new director of fraternity and sorority advising. Some of you formed a connection with Dean Hilpert and I am sorry that this change will feel abrupt for you. We are personally committed to ensuring that the support we have provided to your chapters will continue uninterrupted and, to that end, I have made the decision to create a team of support rather than appoint a singular interim director,” McLoughlin said.
McLoughlin outlined the points of contact within the Dean of the College Division and their areas of responsibility during the interim period. He first named Sue Smith, associate Vice President and Dean for Residential Education, stating the she oversees all things budget and facilities-related.
“Dean Smith will communicate with your national headquarters, liaise with the alumni advisers of your chapters, and provide operations oversight,” McLoughlin said.
McLoughlin referenced Amber Decker and Leigh-Ann Wenzel, the Program Coordinators for the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement. He stated that their responsibilities entail leadership development, CLSI support, social hosting registration, strategic planning, Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic advising. Finally, McLoughlin mentioned Kristin Cothran, Assistant Dean of the First-and second year Experience. McLoughlin explained that Dean Cothran will be working closely with Deckerand Wenzel, attend presidents’ meetings, and provide programmatic oversight.
“I will continue serving in an advisory capacity to you, as presidents, and to your members. You are welcome you to stop by my office anytime. You will be hearing from Dean Cothran about immediate next steps in this transition and to help you with officer transitions and spring semester planning,” McLoughlin said.