The role of Dean of Students at Albizu University (AU) comes with great responsibility and even greater reward. Deans are often pragmatic stewards of institutional rules and regulations. However, an essential function of a dean is to advocate for students and the matters that are of most importance to them. Cultivating a campus climate of support is an integral aspect of the Office of Student Affairs’ mission to improve satisfaction and enhance the overall AU student life experience.
Daily life as AU’s Dean of Students often reminds me of a living case study where there is much to observe, learn, and ultimately resolve. A week as Dean of Students consists of appraising policy, drafting reports, analyzing data, chairing committees, conferring with institutional leaders, meeting with students, replying to correspondences, delivering speeches, launching impartial inquiries, and adjudicating student misconduct matters. The latter requires the most time and attention. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) facilitates and adheres to equitable grievance and disciplinary procedures; therefore, the meticulous process of investigating a student’s case can take weeks and even months. Investigations require interviewing a number of interested parties, the systematic review of evidentiary material, referencing institutional policy manuals, drafting reports, and reviewing federal and state law. When the opportunity presents itself, I pause to attend a campus life activity sponsored by OSA or one of its many student organizations. This level of engagement allows the opportunity to interface with students and gain insight into their lives at AU.
Daily oversight of the various student support units and their staff is required to ensure the prompt and accurate delivery of services. This commitment to serving students encourages collaboration between AU’s faculty and student support staff. During planned meetings, the various programs and departments discuss converging interests. The strategic planning sessions produce quality student programming that enhances the overall collegiate experience.
The role of AU Dean of Students never ceases and defies OSA departmental hours and campus geographical boundaries. Accessibility is key. I am simply an email away at all times. This might seem rather daunting to some, but the ability to respond to the needs of the AU community in real time further reinforces OSA’s mission to foster a supportive environment that promotes humanity and compassion. Life at AU is caring, inclusive, and inspires positive experiences for all members of the campus community.
J.C. De Llanos