Campus News

November 14, 2011

Committee to steer search for next dean of campus life

The search for a senior vice president and dean of campus life is getting under way following the recent announcement that John Ford, who has held the position for over a decade, would retire in August 2012.

Robin Forman, dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics, will chair the search advisory committee.

The dean of campus life is responsible for overseeing everything from housing to athletics, to student health, career services and Greek life. The Division of Campus Life includes 15 departments, as well as a sizeable budget and several hundred staff. Emory's chief student affairs officer also serves on leadership groups including the President's Cabinet, among others.

"There is no aspect of our mission as a university that does not depend on a vibrant, robust campus life leadership," notes Forman.

The search advisory committee convened for the first time last week.

Committee members are:

• Marshall Duke, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology

• Allison Dykes, vice president of alumni relations

• Laura Hardman, trustee, and chair of the Campus Life Committee of the Board of Trustees

• Vialla Hartfield-Mendez, Professor of Pedagogy in Spanish and Portuguese and director of engaged learning in the Office of University-Community Partnerships

• Joyce Jaleel, associate director of athletics

• Adam McCall, undergraduate student and president of the Student Government Association

• Karen Salisbury, executive special assistant to the vice president for Campus Services

• Heather Zesiger, director of the Office of Health Promotion, Student Health and Counseling Services

• Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost

Says Forman of the committee members: "There's a real sense of enthusiasm and commitment, and a recognition of how important this position is."

Emory will enlist a search consultant to assist with the nationwide search.

"Our role," says Forman of the advisory committee, "is ultimately to come up with some candidates that we're very excited about to present to the president so he can make the final selection, and offer any insights or advice that might seem helpful."

The committee is also encouraging input from others. "We hope to find ways to allow anybody in the extended Emory community to offer their thoughts," says Forman.

The anticipated timeline for the search process is to select a candidate by the end of spring semester, to allow for a smooth transition where the new dean for campus life can "hit the ground running" come fall semester 2012, says Forman.

"But it's much more important to us that we get the right person than adhere to any specific timeline," he notes.

The ideal candidate will be an effective leader and administrator, says Forman, one who understands the Emory ethos and Campus Life's distinctive mission of enhancing student life beyond the classroom and strengthening the Emory community through programs, activities, services and facilities.

"We need someone who understands and is supportive of the academic mission and will be a partner with the deans and schools as we try to create a holistic student experience that helps our students achieve all the goals they have for themselves and that we have for them," he says.

The successful candidate will continue Emory's commitment to a campus life program that truly is a partner with academic programs, says Forman. "John Ford was brought in with that challenge, and has taken great strides to bring together the two spheres of our student experience. We need to build on what he's done."

Ford thinks the position will be attractive to many national leaders in the campus life field, "because of Emory's prestige, the strong support for the position from President Wagner and his cabinet, and the opportunity to inherit an excellent staff, dedicated to enhancing success for our students, who are among the best and the brightest in the nation."

"I hope the new dean will have an extraordinary commitment to the education, development and welfare of all students, and the ability to elicit their trust and high regard," says Ford. "I also hope she or he will enjoy the job as much as I have for 11 years."

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