The beginnings of the professional field now known as student affairs can be traced to 1890 at Harvard University when then President Charles Eliot “asked LeBaron Russell Briggs, a young and popular English instructor, to serve as a ‘student dean’... to look after undergraduates” (Sandeen, 2004, p. 30). Later Deans of Men and Deans of Women were foundational in the professionalization of the field and the establishment of practices for higher education student services. They also formed professional associations, influenced early research on students, and urged the academy to consider the “whole student.” In short, what is now known as the Dean of Students could be considered the quintessential student affairs role.
Today, much in the higher education landscape has shifted and the Dean of Students may be more central than ever. As compared to previous Deans, on many college and university campuses today's Dean of Students is now: responsible for addressing a more complex set of student concerns,
beholden to new constituencies on and off campus, and experiencing oversight within a more strict regulatory and legal context.
On this episode of Student Affairs Live, host Heather Shea will discuss with a large panel of current and recent Deans of Students how and why the Dean of Students role has changed and the leadership skills and professional competencies present-day Deans of Students need to be successful in this multifaceted role. Joining Heather to discuss the shifting responsibilities of this complex position are Craig Chatriand, Tim Gordon, Paul Shang, Kendal Washington White, and Lee Burdette Williams.