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Andrea Conner leaves the College for dean positon

Andrea Conner, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs staff and faculty headshots Jan. 31, 2018. (Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)

Andrea Conner, associate vice president for student affairs (AVP), will conclude her nine-year tenure at Grinnell College at the end of this semester. The College announced in a special campus memo on Thursday, April 5 that Conner will be replaced by Sarah Moschenross, who is currently dean of students.

Prior to serving as AVP for four years, Conner held a position that has now been broken down into two jobs.

“I was assistant dean of students that worked with residence life and orientation. So I supervised RLCs and planned orientation,” she said.

Conner has enjoyed her time in Grinnell for nearly a decade. However, with a six-year-old child in the picture, Conner and her partner began to talk about raising their child in an urban area.

“We both love it here, alas. I love my job and the people that I work with here are fantastic and are among the best in the country in what they do,” she said.

As luck would have it, the first job that Conner applied to appeared to be her next calling. Conner will be leaving Grinnell to join Lake Forest College, located in the northern Chicago suburbs, as Vice President and Dean of Students, “a combination of a couple of positions here.”

“I fell in love with them and they fell in love with me,” she said.

Although she has never lived in the Chicagoland area, Lake Forest feels very familiar to Conner, as it is a part of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). Having attended Coe College as a music and theatre major in Iowa and previously worked at Macalester College in Minnesota and Knox College in Illinois, Lake Forest will be the fifth college under the ACM that she will have attended or worked for.

“My career in student affairs was inspired in a small, private, residential liberal arts college. Those are the environments that work best for me. The students and often the faculty and staff, live and work right here in the community. There’s something really vibrant about that, something really dynamic about the energy. I don’t think I would be a good fit for a big university, frankly,” she said.

Andrea Conner, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs
staff and faculty headshots Jan. 31, 2018.
(Photo by Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)

Conner’s job in Grinnell requires her to work closely with the president’s cabinet and the vice president for academic affairs. But primarily, she supervises all the departments in student affairs, including campus safety, SHACS, religious life, international student life, intercultural affairs, student activities and residence life.

“I feel like I’ve contributed a lot to the division of student affairs, mostly by hiring really great people who know what they’re doing so that I could support them and make some fantastic improvements for the benefit of our students,” she said.

Stabilizing the turnover of employees in SHACS, making the decision to include intercultural life as a part of student affairs, “which was able to serve the underserved people in the institution” such as students of color and LGBT students, and investing in campus safety constitute only some of the major changes that student affairs has seen under Conner’s time as AVP.

“I think whoever leads the division of student affairs next will reap the benefits of a very strong staff, who are so good at their jobs and eager for change and improvement. They are hard workers, dedicated professionals who are focused on the well being of our students,” she said.

Continuing in positions similar to her current one seems to be Conner’s trajectory. The only other thing on her bucket list is acquiring a doctorate degree, while working part-time.

“This has been my entire career. I fell in love with higher education in the liberal arts when I was an undergraduate. So my Masters degree is in higher education administration, which is not a thing that I knew you could study!”

As a farewell to the students and her colleagues here at Grinnell, she wanted everyone to know “how much I’ve appreciated my time here and I’m excited to go but reluctant to leave.”

Announced in a Campus Memo Thursday afternoon, Sarah Moschenross, current Dean of Students, will fill Andrea Conner’s position as AVP.

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