Chanelle Robinson

Hiring a new dean for King’s University

By  Chanelle Robinson, Youth Speak News
  • June 19, 2015

Throughout my undergraduate experience I was actively involved with many leadership opportunities on campus. In my final year, I was blessed with the opportunity to help shape the future of my alma mater.

I was nominated at the end of last year to be a part of the committee to select a new Dean of Students, which meant I would be one of two students tasked to interview candidates. The second student was former student council president David Castillo.

The selection committee was a very wonderful experience, and I’m sure that King’s is excited to welcome Joe Henry into the community. He truly cares about student support, success, advocacy, equity and social justice. He is coming to King’s from Sheridan College. I’m sure he will bring all the gifts he cultivated there and that he will build upon the strong foundation already set at King’s.

Throughout the process, I thought about what it meant to be a student at King’s. I wanted to take my role on the committee seriously and really consider what criteria makes for a good Dean of Students.

To me, the DOS needs to advocate in the face of many facets of student life outside of the classroom. Yes, attending class is very important, but like outgoing DOS Mary Carol Watters, I hope Henry promotes learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

Extra and co-curricular activities are great ways to enhance a student’s university experience. In addition to the programming that already exists, I think that students would benefit from a stronger emphasis on career counselling and life-skills workshops.

I also hope that student services can somehow find a balance between collaborating with other departments and faculty without siloing itself from the rest of campus life. Students will benefit from a “one-stop hub” model, in which academic and nonacademic supports are neighbours.

King’s must continue to value the student voice and student opinion. Despite its small size, King’s has an impressive and thriving student council. If we maximize the potential of having faculty representatives and other peer supports, really great things can happen.

In her 35 years of service to the King’s community, Watters had created and sustained an atmosphere of inclusivity, intellectual integrity and intentional community building and my hope was to find a candidate that would uphold and advance her work and the mission of the college as a whole.

In considering his candidacy, I was moved by Henry’s commitment to research-based strategies and ongoing learning. His emphasis on fostering the best student life experience, within a rigorous academic setting and his attention to relationships, especially to students who often find themselves on the fringes, was impressive.

Henry said first-year students are a vulnerable population because they must make a large transition from secondary school to the high demands of university.

The first-year experience sets the tone for the following years of undergraduate study. Fostering an academic atmosphere within residence life and also encouraging commuting students to feel welcomed, engaged and involved are important pieces.

Finding a candidate that was also open to upholding the Catholic tradition of the college in light of a diverse world was also important to the committee. I admire that Henry is committed to campus ministries and the truth-seeking component of higher Catholic education. King’s is a place for intentional dialogue and critical conversations.

Looking forward to the trajectory of his career at King’s, Henry said, “My legacy is the students’ legacy.” With this as his horizon, I hope that Henry will ensure that students receive the best liberal arts education at King’s.

(Robinson, 22, is a graduate of the Catholic Studies for Teachers program, King’s University College London, Ont.)

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