The new school year at Northern Arizona University will start without an assistant director for Off-Campus Life and Community Liaison.
Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans and NAU spokesperson Kim Ott said the university and city are working on making changes to the job description for the position. Neither had information on what those changes might be and when they would be finished or when the position would be advertised. Evans estimated that the position might not be filled until 2019.
City Communications Manager Jessica Drum said that because the position is a joint operation between the city and the university, the changes to the job description have to be approved by both entities. This is leading to a lot of back and forth between the city and the university over proposed changes. She also did not have information on what kind of changes were being proposed.
The position was created and funded jointly by the city of Flagstaff and NAU last year as a go-between for students living off-campus and their Flagstaff neighbors. It came in the wake of complaints of rowdy parties in Southside and at The Grove, leading the city council to pass a tougher party ordinance. One party in the fall of 2015 on Franklin Avenue spawned a fight that involved the shooting of four NAU students, one fatally.
Karissa Morgan was hired to fill the position in August 2016 and left in May, after she was recruited for a position in the Valley, according to a statement from NAU in May. In May, the city spokesperson Meg Roederer said that the vacancy was to be filled by an internal search involving only city of Flagstaff and NAU employees.
According to the previous job description, the person was responsible for managing off-campus life web pages and publications, participating in city and NAU activities to improve relations between neighborhoods, the city and the university, act as a mediator to resolve conflicts between students and non-students, work with property owners on code enforcement and local ordinances and develop outreach programs to off-campus students and residents.
The minimum qualifications for the position in May were a bachelor’s degree with four years of professional experience in “program planning, implementation and evaluation that specifically relates to community relations and community building/organizing.” The preferred candidate would have a master’s degree in student affairs, higher education, conflict resolution or psychology, with skills in public speaking, public policy, public relations and an understanding of issues relating to the city and university.
The position is funded jointly by NAU and the city, with half of the $60,000 salary coming from each institution, according to an intergovernmental agreement between the city and NAU. NAU is responsible for all employee benefits for the position.
According to statement from Ott in May, Morgan made good connections with residents and off-campus students. She distributed door hangers to students with tips on being a good neighbor, hosted weekly meetings with community members, attended neighborhood association meetings, worked with Goodwill on a program for students to donate items when moving out at the end of the semester. She left behind a plan for the next liaison, as well.
Reporter Corina Vanek contributed to this story.