Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What’s it like to be a…Dean of Students?

My job title is:  Dean of Student Development

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
My daily schedule has some consistencies with regular one-on-one meetings with my staff or weekly committee meetings but also varies from week to week depending upon the time of year and the responsibilities I have for that time of the semester.  I tend to have one-on-one meetings with my staff in the mornings. I often attend chapel and eat lunch on-campus.  And typically, my afternoons are filled with committee meetings, appointments with students and attending to other details of my work (reading, e-mail, etc.).

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I got my start as a Resident Assistant (RA) in college.  A couple years after I graduated, in large part due to my enjoyment of being an RA, I began graduate school in higher education administration while also serving as a Resident Director (RD).  I have continued working in higher education ever since.  I am in my 11th year here at Calvin (not including the 2 years after completing my masters degree, when I worked here as an RD).  Prior to this I was Dean of Student Development at Malone College for 9 years.

What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position? 
Well, beginning as an RA was my start.  I think it was critical to my future.  Moreover, I would strongly urge that anyone interested in serving in higher education/student development work serve as an RD.  I nearly think it should be mandatory!

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you? 
Rewards are most often through the ways I see my staff flourish.  I have been surrounded by an incredibly talented staff, in a real sense, all of them leaders in Christian higher education (just think of Student Activities, Service-Learning, Multicultural Student Development, International Student Development, Orientation, Project Neighborhood, etc.!).  I also take delight in productive relationships with students and when I see students becoming enlivened by the mission of Calvin.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years? 
The way we communicate to one another.  I’m amazed just in the last 10 years what e-mail and text-messaging and things like facebook have done.

How could a person find out more about your field? 
By talking to someone from the Student Life Division. 

How do your beliefs and values or worldview perspectives impact what you do at work?
Two little greek words excite my work:  ta panta.  These are the words the Apostle Paul uses 5 times in the short verses from Colossians 1:  15 – 20 that we translate as “all things.”  My work is driven by this Kingdom perspective.  I get to work with others excited by this perspective.  All things.  It all matters. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/11 at 11:54 AM

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