Dean search leaves spot empty

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Linda Smith, News Editor

After a five-month search for the next full-time dean of student life, the position remains unfilled. Current faculty members will assume the different responsibilities of the job once the current interim dean of student life, Denise Phillips, relinquishes her duties on May 31 of this year and until a suitable candidate is found.

To fill the coming void, former director of residence life Dore Madere has been promoted to “Director of Student Life” and will begin her work in that position once Phillips steps down, said vice president of enrollment and student affairs Dr. John Plotts.

“Dore will assume a higher level of authority in terms of management and tactical implementation,” Plotts said. “She will continue to lead RHA, develop and interpret policy, train RCs/RAs, adjudicate higher level cases, serve as an appeal for an RC judicial, respond to emergency situations and budget.” The university also plans to add two full-time residence coordinators to help distribute responsibilities in the absence of a full-time dean, Plotts said. These positions have been part-time positions in the past.

“With the addition of two full-time RCs, residence life will have additional resources for students,” Plotts said. “By making these positions full-time, the RCs will have regular office hours and the ability to mentor students and build community. Naturally, they would do many of the things that current RCs do: namely, manage/mentor the RAs, conduct judicial meetings when necessary, participate in night duty rotations, be available for emergency care, etc. We will continue with one part-time RC so the number of RCs will not diminish.”

Plotts said he will take on the remaining responsibilities. He said he will “handle the highest level judicial issues/take parent calls, develop strategy, participate in staff training and represent student life on inter-departmental committees.” He will also spend most of next year attending conferences, networking and contacting potential candidates for the position. Lastly, Phillips, who will return full-time to serving as the director of Campus Ministry, will remain connected to student life solely within her capacity as a spiritual guide within Campus Ministry, Plotts said.

Plotts said these details remain subject to change and could be altered over the summer.

The ultimately fruitless five-month process began in December when the job description was updated and posted the following month online and in places like the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The search committee included philosophy professor Dr. William Frank, Campus Ministry director and current interim dean of student life Denise Phillips, director of financial aid Taryn Anderson, men’s basketball coach Jarred Samples, HR generalist Elizabeth Engelke and trustee Joe Oscar Neuhoff. Two students, senior Tara McCrorey and graduate student Kent Feuerborn, were also on the committee.

“I was really excited, and felt so honored to be asked, especially considering how important this position is to the future of UD,” McCrorey said. “As a student, I felt my input was very highly valued. It definitely reflected a genuine care and concern by the staff and faculty for the happiness of the students here. My concerns and discussion held equal weight with the other members, and we all took our roles very seriously.”

Feuerborn could not be reached for comment.

McCrorey said that much effort was put into “determining our expectations for the ideal candidate regarding character, experience and educational philosophy, etc.”

“We all agreed we needed someone truly unique to take UD in the right direction,” McCrorey said.

The posting drew 125 applicants, 22 of whom made the initial cut.

“We asked each of the 22 candidates for a statement on their philosophy of Catholic education. This narrowed the pool to eight candidates,” Plotts said. “We conducted phone interviews with the eight candidates and identified three finalists. We decided to invite two of them to campus, and we decided not to hire either candidate.”

McCrorey described the last two candidates as “very different.” She noted that neither stood out to the entire committee, and “no one seemed to feel strongly that either candidate was the right choice for UD.”

“It definitely came down to a choice between student life strategies, and the fact that all were divided between them suggested UD had some work to do on its own before deciding on a dean of students,” McCrorey said. “As Dr. Plotts said, it’s better to wait for the right person than to settle for the wrong one.”

Plotts described the process as being a “very successful search—except for the hiring part,” and he commended the committee members, “all of whom worked very hard and dedicated many hours to the process.”

Louis Hannegan contributed reporting to this article.

 

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