College Searches for Dean of Students
Issue   |   Wed, 04/30/2014 - 01:14

The search committee charged with replacing former Dean of Students Jim Larimore has identified a few promising candidates and hopes to bring the finalists to campus to meet with students, faculty and staff before the end of the academic year, Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey said.

The search for the new Dean of Students has changed to reflect the new role the Student Affairs office will play on campus. This year’s search, which features a slightly altered job description, will include greater student input in the search process, Coffey said.

“The approach to the search for the perfect candidate for the position has dramatically changed this year,” said Coffey, who deemed the search one of her main objectives this semester.

The committee has decided to use an outside firm to facilitate the job search, like it did with the Larimore search. However, students, faculty and staff will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the search, Coffey said.

Coffey and Professor Nicola Courtright are serving as the co-chairs on the search committee, which includes members Amani Ahmed ’15, Julian Boykins ’15, Kat Dominguez ’16, Professor Maria Heim, Student Affairs Case Manager Scott Howard and Professor Paul Rockwell.

“I was definitely pleasantly surprised to note that my voice bears equal weight on this committee to that of any other faculty member,” Boykins said. “We all have the same information about the steps being taken and I definitely feel that student involvement in the search has been given more emphasis.”

Courtright said that Jim Larimore’s departure was pivotal for her in realizing that changes needed to be made to the structure of the Student Affairs office.

“This is too much of an overwhelming position as it is,” Courtright said. “We are looking for a partner for the chief of Student Affairs.”

The college is looking to hire a Dean of Students who will focus on the transformation of student life to complement Coffey’s role as strategic planner overseeing organizational, personnel and management changes.

“The two key goals in mind are to ensure that the students have the support they need to succeed academically and to build a community that allows every student to take advantage of the talent and diversity of the student body as a whole,” Coffey said.

“We are looking for a candidate that has a passion for encouraging students to seek and take advantage of all the resources and opportunities at Amherst, who also has an authentic appreciation for the college’s history and traditions as well as a vision for its potential. ”

Dividing the role of Dean of Students into two positions has played an integral role in defining the search process.

“Essentially a lot of different things fall under the jurisdiction of a single dean and what we have found is that in order to maximize our efficiency as an office, we need to divide some of these roles up between two or more people,” Coffey said.

“When we have one person purely focused on strategic planning and another on student life projects, then we can really begin to see creative juices flowing, and concentrated efforts blossoming.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the college is not using an outside firm to conduct the Dean of Students search. The college is using an outside firm to conduct the search, and it is also receiving input from students, faculty and staff.