August 21, 2013
Sophomore Gunnar Johanson, who acted as interim director of Student Services during the summer, is set to be confirmed by the Senate as the new Missouri Students Association chief of staff.
Chief of Staff Mason Schara will be leaving his role to focus on the CATs program.
"The real reason I am stepping down is because there were three people on the CATs program executive board this summer,” Schara said. "We ended up losing one member of our summer staff of three and didn’t get as much of the sponsorship plan completed as we had anticipated. I made the decision executively, that since CATs is my thing, it would be best for the program to just focus all of my time and energy on that.”
Schara has been the MSA chief of staff since February, holding the position throughout the spring and summer semesters. Information about CATs began circulating the campus earlier this year, and CATs is expected to take off this semester and will attempt to change MU's culture.
“(CATs) was my own project as chief of staff, and I didn’t want it to take away from my position as a whole," Schara said. "I wanted someone who could put in more time for the job and didn’t want to slack off and not to do my job properly while focusing on the CATs rewards program. So I decided to step down.”
Schara’s is the third person to step down from an MSA executive position this year.
MSA President Nick Droege said the staff replacements were because two seniors, Mahir Khan and Samantha Green, on last year’s cabinet graduated and needed to be replaced.
“(The turnover) is because of things that were out of our control,” Droege said. “We have a CATs program, and it’s going to be a full-time program. (Mason) is going to need to focus on that, so we both talked about that and it was a mutual decision that he just wants to focus on that.”
Last semester, Johanson was chosen to be the MSA deputy chief of staff. He has worked closely with Droege and Schara in the past, and therefore is familiar with the responsibilities that come with being the chief of staff.
“All last semester, I was deputy chief of staff and worked closely with Mason and other cabinet members," Johanson said. "(The responsibilities of being chief of staff) are not very specific. You must have a 2.2 GPA and must not hold other positions within MSA. Chief of staff is a very flexible position. I’ll manage a lot of internal operations within cabinet, but I also have a lot of freedom to focus on pet projects of mine.”
Johanson already has several ideas in mind that he would like to focus when he becomes chief of staff.
“I have a couple of things on my plate right now,” Johanson said. “One is a food waste awareness week with (Campus Dining Services). It will consist of different events both inside and outside of dining halls to raise awareness about eating portions and food waste — issues that students like to disregard. We plan to see that come to fruition this semester."
Additionally, students may begin to receive greater recognition for academic excellence once Johanson takes the reins.
“I’m working with Trey Sprick (Tigers Against Partisan Politics director of education and advocacy) on an academic excellence project," Johanson said. "We want to shine a light on students and faculty who strive to be academically excellent, both inside and outside the classroom. It’s just a starting concept, but it is something I’m really excited about. We’re putting together a committee in the next few weeks to continue to shape this idea.”
Schara said that his successor will excel in his new role.
“I’ve watched (Gunnar) grow since his freshman year," Schara said. "I think he’s going to a wonderful, amazing job as chief of staff. It’s giving him an opportunity to really shine and show how great of a leader he really is. I want it to be really visible to everyone. I think everyone (in the cabinet) is very happy for him.”
Schara will answer questions students have concerning the new semester at 5 p.m. Tuesday. It will be Schara’s last event as chief of staff.
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