The campus administrator who oversaw Student Government, the Harborside Activities Board and other key student activities was abruptly removed from his position last week.
The departure of Matt Morrin after a decade at the university came suddenly and without explanation to the student groups he helped guide.
The university declined to provide a reason for Morrin’s departure, saying it “does not comment on personnel matters.”
But in a letter to her staff, the regional vice chancellor of student affairs — Morrin’s former boss — said that she is reorganizing her department.
Morrin declined to discuss his departure.
“I’ve had a great 10 years at USFSP and I’m looking forward to the future,” he told the Crow’s Nest. He said he will continue working on a doctorate in higher education at the university’s Tampa campus.
As director of student life and engagement, Morrin oversaw the operation of many campus organizations, including the Crow’s Nest, and counseled countless student leaders over the years.
Dwayne Isaacs, the assistant director of the University Student Center, will temporarily assume Morrin’s duties.
Morrin’s dismissal came eight months after Helton’s arrival.
In her role, she is responsible for what the university calls “all aspects of student life,” including housing, student conduct, financial aid, the wellness and career centers and the department that Morrin ran – student life and engagement.
Morrin, who holds a master’s in education from Carthage College in Wisconsin, came to USFSP after five years as director of student activities at Carthage and eight years in the same role at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Morrin’s duties were reduced last semester, when control of the campus recreation operation was assigned to interim associate director Greg Haverlock.
Word of Morrin’s departure broke Thursday and came as a shock to student leaders, some of whom worked with him on an almost daily basis.
“It’s a year of sudden change. I got a call saying that I’d be Student Government president, and now this,” said Laraine Ruiz, who became acting president in August after president Ziya Kardas and his vice president took mysterious leaves of absence.
Ruiz said that she had spoken with Morrin just days before receiving a call from Helton informing her of his exit.
“[Student Government members] had just seen him the other day,” said Ruiz. “We had plans and questions and he was going to help us get answers.”
Morrin played an instrumental role in the development of the campus during his time at USF St. Petersburg.
Aside from being Student Government’s liaison to the campus administration, he helped guide the allocation of the activity and services budget, which last year totaled $3.4 million.
Morrin aided in the process of renovating the Student Life Center and negotiating the deal that brought the University Student Center to the campus, said Hector Santiago, acting Student Government vice president.
There was no explanation provided to faculty or staff either, said Christian Vila, coordinator for the leadership and student organization, who oversees events like Get On Board day and TEDxUSFSP, he also advises the student body vice president.
“Matt’s a great guy with a great personality. I had no qualms with him,” said Vila. He said that he and Isaacs would provide support for clubs and organizations in Morrin’s stead.
“I don’t think people need to worry about the change,” Vila said.
Some of the students who worked closely with Morrin praised him.
“He always backed the students and was always for the students,” said Justice Thornton, a student assistant in the student life and engagement office.
Thornton expressed concern and disbelief about Morrin’s unexpected exodus and the university’s reluctance to provide an explanation.
“You don’t dedicate more than 10 years to an institution without a proper send-off,” said Thornton. “I want to know why he’s gone.”