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The Scarlet & Black

New Assistant Dean of Student Affairs hired by College

deanwebIn an e-mail to student staff on Thursday, March 19, Dean of Students Travis Greene announced that Andrea Conner had been appointed to the position of Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Residence Life and Orientation. After interviews, job talks, and informal discussions with students was chosen by a committee comprised of members from SGA, SAs, RLCs, faculty and administration

Currently, Conner is the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life at Bard College. According to the Bard website, her position includes overseeing Area Coordinators (ACs) of the dorms, comparable to RLCs, and Peer Coordinators (PCs), who serve a function similar to SAs.

Conner, an Iowa native and Coe College graduate, is well versed in not only all things Iowa, but also has been professionally involved with small, liberal arts institutions like Grinnell for some time.

“From the minute Andrea hit campus the feedback we were getting, especially from students, was that Andrea seemed like a fit for Grinnell,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Houston Dougharty. “She has by far the most experience at small liberal arts colleges having gone to and worked at three ACM [Associated Colleges of the Midwest] colleges and then being at Bard [College], which is similar to Grinnell in some ways.”

Paul Gagne ’11, a student-at-large on the hiring committee, said Conner stood out above all the other candidates.

“She immediately understood not only the concept of self governance, but also what it means to this school,” Gagne said. “Also, the fact that she is very approachable makes her a desirable person to have as an administrator.”

The position of Assistant Dean involves the hiring, training and supervision of all RLCs.

Though Conner will not be present on Grinnell’s campus until May, she has already been involved with the search for new RLCs. At a conference in Washington D.C. this past weekend, she participated in interviewing RLC candidates, according to Dean of Students Travis Greene.

Candidates will be coming to campus beginning as early as next week.

One of the biggest changes to the Assistant Dean position will include Conner heading up the NSO committee. Previously, several administrators were involved in the process, often making it difficult to have a cohesive and coordinated strategy. “Orientation has sort of floated, different people have had responsibility for it at different times over the past years and we’re really wanting it to have a home,” Dougharty said.

Since NSO has been solidified in Student Affairs, some of the initial differences will be infrastructural changes from years past. “Instead of having a student committee and then a faculty/staff committee … we’re bringing the whole group together,” Dougharty said. “In general, we’re going try to make it a more integrated program, and we’ll put in it Andrea’s capable hands when she gets here.”

As part of Hugh Redford ’10’s Wilson internship, he will be spending his summer in Grinnell working with Conner on 2009’s NSO. “NSO was broken before and it was impossible to get things done and you never knew who you needed to talk to,” Redford said. ”There’s only good that will come out of everybody having to spend less time figuring out who to ask their question to and more time trying to find the answers.”

“She [Conner] has the sort of background to be administrative and operate in that kind of way and environment but also really get along with students and really be comfortable with being a student advocate,” Redford said.

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