Matthew Patry’s journey at Castleton recently took an unexpected turn when he faced termination last semester from his most recent position as the Vermont State University Castleton associate dean of students.
Before that, he was the Dean of Students at Castleton University after being the Director of Student Life for eight years at Castleton.
You could say he has a history here.
In December, Patry emerged from this challenging experience with determination, securing a new and expanded role as Director of Student Activities at Vermont State University. He is now overseeing student activities across five campuses, and his return has been met with widespread praise for his dedication to creating a vibrant and engaging campus life.
Vermont State University decided to cut all the associate dean of students positions from every campus, meaning all of those positions went away. This means Mathew Patry’s job was eliminated, he was told on October 26th that his last day would be December 21st.
“It was a very tight timeline. I was getting ready, bringing boxes in to clear my stuff,” Patry said.
But three weeks before his end day, he was informed they created this whole new position, Director of Student Activities for the whole VTSU, and many wanted him to apply. He did, and now he’s staying.
“With this new job as the Director of Student Activities, I will work with the assistant directors across each campus, so we are all working together for the same mission and same goals,” Patry said explaining his new role.
Patry has the responsibility of overseeing assistant directors on each VTSU campus to work on making sure our student governments are running smoothly, that students will get more engaged and involved, growing clubs and organizations, and encouraging co-curricular experiences that benefit students.
“In reality, most people think of student activities as just fun and games, and sure it should be fun. However, it is also a co-curricular experience and that’s what I’m trying to push,” Patry said.
He believes that clubs and activities can teach you many things that you can’t learn in the classroom, and these activities can give you practice and experience.
Patry sees good in this new direction and all the benefits that will come of it.
“Our campus activities board was picked as the best programming board in the nation by the APCA, Association for the Promotion for Campus Activities. We’ve gotten some accolades for what we’re doing here. Now with this job, I will be able to focus on the other campuses getting used to the processes that we use, that are nationally used,” Patry said.
He explained that even though all five campuses were a part of the Vermont State College system, all were doing things very differently. Now, the campuses will be doing things much more similarly. Using the same standards and practices was a big priority for Patry.
Another aspect of Patry’s impact has been his collaboration with the SGA. The work between Patry and the SGA has resulted in a more inclusive and student-centric approach to planning and executing campus events. Patry also attends all the SGA meetings while standing in for the position of assistant director and works very closely with the SGA, and Campus Activities Board on every campus.
Perry Ragouzis, SGA president at Castleton, explains Patry has been a main advocate for student development and student growth.
“Matt has been the focal point for many students in terms of leadership development and student engagement. He has grown our student government to include over 50 students and also made sure we have a robust amount of clubs,” Ragouzis said.
Ragouzis goes into detail about how excited he was that Patry was staying.
“I think this is gonna be a very pivotal time for student activities systemwide. Allowing Matt to bring his expertise to the other four campuses will develop their SGAs as well,” Ragouzis said
Many of the members of the SGA are also very relieved Patry and his institutional knowledge is staying. Marty Kelly III is the Castleton’s SGA Graduate Assistant who advises student organizations on campus.
“He’s great. He’s a big part of why this university has been successful for a long time. Campus activities are a huge part of student life here and the student experience, which is what matters at the end of the day,” Kelly said.