story Elaine Li, Contributing Reporter
This semester, the Dean of Students’ Office (DoS) has expanded its team with the inclusion of four new roles: Manager of Student Activities Andrew McGeehan, Senior Manager of Operations Zoe Peters, Health Coordinator Doris Yek, and Manager of Diversity and Inclusion Sara Amjad.
With the growth in student population this year the DoS saw the need to expand their team to better adapt to the “complexity in managing student affairs”, said Interim Dean of Students Brian McAdoo. With existing student organisations needing development and new ones being created every semester people were needed to fulfill students’ needs, said Mr. McAdoo.
Manager of Student Life Chris O’Connell agreed, adding that the growth in the student population called for the DoS to be more proactive about student needs now and in the future. “The amount of staff that you have can mean the difference between maintenance and creation, and we want to move into creation,” Mr. McGeehan said.
The positions were created by the previous Dean of Students, Kyle Farley, after discussions with the whole department. The hiring process began in the second semester last academic year, with the DoS working closely with Human Resources department to post positions and review applications and resumes.
After the initial screening of applications, a committee consisting of staff, faculty members, and student representatives interviewed potential candidates. Each committee member present at the interview was required to provide detailed feedback and commentary on the interviewee afterwards. This feedback was then passed on to the Head of Department, along with Human Resources and senior management members such as President Pericles Lewis and the Executive Vice Presidents. The Head of Department, in consultation with senior management, then made the final decision, according to Mr. O’ Connell .
Jordan Bovankovich ’18 said that she thought the inclusion of new roles improved the DoS. “I just remember before that DoS seemed a bit understaffed … I think it’s probably good for the team if they have more people to break down the work,” she said. Similarly, Meddley Bourdeau ’17 said that the expansion enabled DoS to be more attuned to students’ needs.
On future directions for the Dean of Students Office, Mr. McAdoo said that he would leave the answer to incoming Dean of Students Christopher Bridges, but could see the need for expansion of existing roles, such as counselling services, and possibly the creation of new ones. He mentioned the possibility of hiring an Assistant Director of Athletics. He added that issues such as budgets and space must be taken into consideration. Mr. O’Connell said that factors associated with the relocation of international candidates such as visa and immigration status, also make hiring a tricky process.
Discussions regarding new DoS roles are currently underway and will continue through to the end of the semester.
Andrew McGeehan, Manager of Student Activities
Mr. McGeehan, as Manager of Student Activities, oversees student clubs and organizations. He works with the travel funding committee, student government recognition committee, and the student organization review committee. He also works on family programs, such as Family Weekend, and exchange trips, such as the December New York University Abu Dhabi trip. “There was a need for some more streamlining and structure […] I think it makes sense that there’s a person whose full-time role is managing the student orgs program, particularly as it continues to grow […] there does need to be a consistent, streamlined point of contact,” Mr. McGeehan said. With the growing student body and DoS team, he anticipates a move from maintenance to creation, starting with workshops offered to student organizations in collaboration with the Dean’s Fellows, with the long-term goal of “transforming student organizations from event planning and running in a group to skills development and leadership development.” He said, “You just can’t do that when there’s only one or two people in the office. I’m hoping that’s what the students want—to see more of an expansive role … in student activities at large.”
Sara Amjad, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion
“What is my role and how did it come about? [chuckles] Long story.”
Ms. Amjad, as Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, strives to “create active engagement … and use conflict as an opportunity for growth” among students with diverse international backgrounds and experiences. Her position was created out of an existing need to be more proactive about growth and learning, especially with regard to students’ cultural and religious backgrounds. Whereas previously the diversity and inclusion work had been spread out across the Dean of Students’ Office, this semester saw the establishment of a separate role. Sara undertook this role because she had previously been involved in a lot of programming work as a Dean’s Fellow.
Starting from August, she has hosted events such as Intergroup Dialogues, an “Eid Hashanah” celebration, and movie screenings. “Initially I was a little nervous about the feedback from Intergroup Dialogue— would students even want to be in an eight-week curriculum-based session about identity? Turns out they’re very, very interested.” She hopes to create a greater diversity of events that will appeal to more kinds of students. “What’s really encouraging is that 2019’s have been very keen on the events and workshops I organize[…] Our students want more programming related to diversity and intercultural engagement, and that’s great!
Zoe Peters, Senior Manager of Operations
Ms. Peters, Senior Manager for Operations, transferred to the Dean of Students Office from our school’s department of Finance, where she previously did budget managing. Zoe currently spends most of her time on liaising with the dining hall contractor, the cafe contractor, and the health center. The past month for her has been fine-tuning the terms of the College’s contracts, as well as overseeing operations.
She works closely with the Dining Hall Committee in terms of sustainability, serving as a link between the College and the food contractor. One of the projects they are considering is an NEA Co-gen waste plant project to collect food waste from the Yale-NUS campus. “A lot of the conversations I have right now is with the dining committee, because I think a lot of students will go to them in terms of their needs.”
Doris Yek, Health Coordinator
Ms. Yek joined our school over a month ago as the Health Coordinator. Students can approach her to get simple medical and nursing treatment for common ailments ranging from headaches, stomach pain, menstrual cramps, constipation to basic injuries, but not prescribed medication. “So in order to make sure that I’m around, it’s best to make a call, because if I step out then students will miss me,” Doris says. In addition to her duties on campus, Doris also works with the University Health Centre to obtain health-related information for students, as well as with insurance to make arrangements with students in terms of facilitating reimbursements. She also handles first aid box supply on campus.
Her office is situated in the Wellness Centre, on the 2nd floor of the library.