Dean of Students
The Office of the Dean of Students provides programs, services, and referrals that support student success and foster the development of citizen leaders.
Our staff is available to answer questions, point students and families in the right direction to get the information they need, and serve as a single point of contact for students and their families in time of crisis.
The Dean of Students chairs the Care Team, a group of academic and student affairs partners, which identifies students that are struggling emotionally/socially and those whose decisions and practices impair their ability to fully engage as a student and member of the Longwood community.
This team develops appropriate interventions so that students can become connected to appropriate resources.
The Dean of Students collaborates with partners across campus to provide services and programs that foster involvement, promote responsible decision-making, and enhance student learning. The Dean of Students also oversees Residential and Commuter Life and the Office of Disability Resources.
What Does the Dean of Students Do?
Everyone seems to ask the same question. What does the Dean of Students do all day? Well, there is no clear but answer to that question. The dean does what needs to get done, and every day is different. However, in the following paragraphs, the position is described in my own words, and hopefully, as you read this, you will say, "hey, that is what he does."
No one can deny the value of what a student learns in class, but we cannot forget that the out-of-classroom experience is as essential in the growth of that student. All university personnel and student employees must embrace the concept that everything we do is educational. Providing programs, acknowledging and celebrating differences, confronting unhealthy or unacceptable behavior, and encouraging a commitment to academics are important things we do with commitment. The Dean of Students is first and foremost an educator—not just to students but to the staff members who work with students as well. The dean must work to ensure that every student is encouraged, challenged, and validated. As importantly, the dean needs to develop a work environment in which staff members feel encouraged, challenged, and validated too.
I believe strong supervision is a mixture of excellent teaching and collaboration. It is essential to work with people to make decisions that will help them make the most of the administrative, supervisory, and disciplinary challenges with which they are presented. The dean must create an environment in which staff members are encouraged to grow. Staff members not only need to be provided developmental opportunities, but they need to see educational opportunities in everyday activities. Staff meetings can be utilized as classrooms if staff members are encouraged to take information and process not only the immediate implications but also the impact these changes will have on students and other offices across campus. Staff members need to see how any campus decision may impact everyone. This not only enhances communication, but it ensures that we are helping those we supervise prepare for bigger and better opportunities. If the Dean of Students provides staff members with this environment, staff will be inspired and will seek to foster the same environment and opportunities for our students.
The Dean of Students is a generalist who is actively involved in strategic planning. A university is made of many different departments with very different needs. The dean always needs to ensure that the best interests of students are considered before any final decisions are made. He/she also must understand that different departments, even within Student Affairs, have varying needs and completely different perspectives regarding how to best meet student needs. A dean does not have to be an expert in every aspect of Student Affairs, but he/she must understand the importance of being open to ongoing learning. He/she must ask questions and demonstrate a willingness to learn more about what a staff member is doing and why it is being done that way. This is essential in not only remaining current but also in demonstrating one’s trust in the staff.
The dean is obviously an administrator who must stay on top of paperwork and model the importance of meeting deadlines and expectations. He/she must build and maintain relationships with others across campus and develop a reputation as a trustworthy professional who exceeds expectations. The dean also must reach out to faculty and develop ways to facilitate their involvement in the out-of-class experience. Our students benefit most when faculty and staff work together.
As an educator, the dean challenges people to think. Students should be exposed to many different concepts and encouraged to think about every perspective before they make decisions. Students should be empowered to grow as leaders. Moreover, the dean must give constructive feedback to every level of staff. And most importantly, the dean should understand that a good leader is also a good follower and serve as a role model through his/her willingness to listen to feedback and learn from students and staff alike.
Finally, the Dean of Students must be a student-centered advocate who is visible across campus. Students and their families must know who the dean is and what his/her position is. Families should feel comfortable contacting the dean and feel assured that he/she is looking out for the students’ best interest. Students should know even when they do not like a decision that they have been heard and that their opinions matter. Students also should know that the dean embraces differences and is willing to learn about new perspectives and issues related to diversity. Most importantly, students must know that the dean cares about and values them.
- Larry Robertson, July 2013