College Appoints New Dean of Student Conduct
Issue   |   Wed, 09/17/2014 - 00:39

Amherst welcomed Dean Gendron, the college’s new assistant dean and Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards, to campus this Monday.

“I’m here to assist students in maximizing community assets and to help young, emerging adults really grow through their interpersonal conflicts into people who are negotiating smartly, reasonably and fairly,” Gendron said.

In his current role, Gendron will adjudicate disciplinary cases and guide overall disciplinary policy. Gendron will also participate in the Title IX team, led by Title IX Coordinator Laurie Frankl. Until now, Dean of Students Alex Vasquez had been handling disciplinary cases.

“Student conduct work often has a connotation of punishment and sanction, and that is a misconception that I think Amherst and I are looking to dispel,” Gendron said. “Student conduct work is more about critical decision-making and wellness, and discussions about how students’ behaviors affect themselves and those around them.”

“Essentially, Dean coordinates our conduct process in all of its many layers,” Vasquez said. “He’s doing one-on-one work with students, but he’s also coordinating the conduct process generally, which answers the question, ‘what happens when a student does x?’”

Vasquez and Chief Student Affairs Officer Suzanne Coffey made the decision to hire Gendron with advisement from a committee of students and administrators. The college used a higher-education consulting firm called Keeling & Associates to assist in the hiring process.

Gendron comes to Amherst from Brandeis University, where he served as the Director of Student Rights and Community Standards.

“Dean has unbelievable experience at Brandeis. He has great Title IX experience, great conduct experience,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez also praised Gendron’s skill in ensuring consistency in disciplinary processes.

“Some of what we’re doing in conduct right now is really tightening things up, making sure that every time x happens, y happens, so that there’s less variability,” Vasquez said. “He’s done all of that.”

Jayson Paul ’16 was one of two students on the committee that hired Gendron.

“I was really very much concerned about how the candidates seemed to relate to students,” Paul said.

Paul described Gendron as “very down-to-earth and approachable for students.”

“He had this air of really understanding Amherst,” Paul said.

The hiring represents a change to the status quo in several ways. Gendron takes over a newly created position within the Office of Student Affairs. Prior to this year, Amherst disciplinary and conduct policy was handled by the Dean of Student Conduct. While the two positions are similar, Gendron’s role is broader and involves more dialogue with students and greater examination of current policies and practices.

“I’m very interested in meeting students where they’re at, whether as individuals or in affinity cohorts, and asking them to think critically about what we have in writing here at Amherst – not only to better reflect the student culture as it is now, but also to better reflect the evolving world around us,” Gendron said.

Gendron said that he is eager to listen to student input as he begins his new job.

“Student-directed policymaking, with the helpful expertise of the professional staff, is absolutely what I’m about,” Gendron said.

Gendron begins work full time next Monday, Sept. 22.