Editorial: Dean of Students Office Should Expand Outreach to Students
By The Executive Board
We congratulate Dean Hart on his new post as the Dean of Students. Dean Lieber has left large shoes to fill, but we believe this transition provides a great opportunity to improve the deans’ relationships with students through new programs and outreach efforts. If you asked the majority of the student body, most wouldn’t know what the Dean of Students, and other deans do. We know that many of the jobs of the Dean are not necessary for the students to know or participate in, but as the College’s main avenue of contact between the student body and the administration, the Dean of Students office needs to have more than disciplinary function in order to run the College smoothly.

Students often have academic, athletic and social problems that they may vent to their friends, but if they talked to their deans, they could maybe solve these problems. This is why the dean-student relationship is so important. One of the main tasks of the deans is to help us navigate through our daily college lives and provide guidance to unsure students. For example, during freshman year, there are many students who have trouble with their transition and either out of timidity, apathy or lack of knowledge about the Dean of New Students, do not seek out help. Though faculty advisors are a valuable academic resource, some advisors are not very accessible, or don’t have the necessary knowledge of other departments and non-academic issues to advise their students.

With this in mind, we suggest some possible avenues that the Dean of Students office could take to improve the welfare of the student population. Amherst has a great program to promote student-professor relations: Take Your Professor Out (TYPO); the TYPO model could be used to achieve the same closeness with the deans. The Association of Amherst Students could institute a Take Your Dean Out (TYDO) program. The student-dean relationship often suffers from a certain level of formality and inaccessibility; more informal events such as TYDO could remedy this situation. Students need more opportunities to talk to deans outside of formal office appointments. Mixers with the deans and students would be another way to achieve this goal.

Faculty get to know the students better through the Faculty Fellows program, in which they visit dorms and perform or give talks in an informal setting. This program could be utilized by the deans, and the only thing the deans would have to do is tell people what they do and offer their services. This way, more people would know how to contact the deans and learn the ways the deans can help a student’s life.

Since the resources that the deans provide are so valuable to the happiness and well-being of Amherst students, they should know that they can access these resources. One possible way to communicate that the Dean of Students office is accessible would be send out a weekly e-mail with events that the deans are hosting, new developments within the College and other useful information.

Dean Hart did a great job as Dean of New Students, and we are sure he will continue to provide guidance and leadership as Dean of Students. Dean Lieber was great at keeping in touch with students and getting a feel for the pulse of the school. We hope Dean Hart can continue this legacy, while expanding the relationship between the deans and the students.

Issue 13, Submitted 2010-02-02 23:48:17