Jonathan Poullard to step down as dean of students

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After eight years as UC Berkeley’s dean of students, Jonathan Poullard will step down Sept. 13.

Poullard has expressed a desire to relocate to the East Coast to be closer to his family, said Felicia Lee, chief of staff for Harry Le Grande, vice chancellor for student affairs. Poullard will be ending his career at UC Berkeley as a voice for the student body.

“It was not a surprise regarding the reason but it is always a jolt when any staff member leaves our Cal community,” Lee said in an email.

Anne De Luca, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment and acting director of undergraduate admissions, will lead a search committee tasked with finding a replacement for Poullard. Details about the committee’s members have yet to be released, but it will include representatives of faculty and staff members as well as student groups.

According to Austin Pritzkat, ASUC President DeeJay Pepito’s chief of staff, student representation on the search committee will include Pepito and Graduate Assembly President Max Gee. Pepito hopes to have students participate in the selection process, potentially through open forums, Pritzkat said.

As dean of students, Poullard oversaw many student-related groups and activities as well as emergency and crisis situations affecting students. The Occupy Cal movement was one of the more controversial events during Poullard’s tenure.

After the November 2011 protest in which police used batons against demonstrators trying to set up an encampment on Sproul Plaza, Poullard agreed with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s statement that linking arms to prevent police from approaching the encampment was not “nonviolent civil disobedience,” according to Connor Landgraf, ASUC president during the 2012-13 academic year.

Landgraf acknowledged that student leaders and Poullard did not “always see eye to eye” on the campus response to protests.

“However, he was always very positive and was very vocal when it came to protecting students’ rights,” Landgraf said.

Other student leaders agreed that Poullard may be remembered for being a strong advocate for students.

“When a crisis erupted, whether it was the Berkeley College Republicans’ bake sale or the Israel divestment bill that rocked campus last spring, Dean Poullard never shied from the difficult issues,” said Joey Freeman, ASUC external affairs vice president for 2011-12. “He was a bridge-builder who facilitated meetings between students on both sides of any given issue.”

One of the programs that Poullard began on campus was the Student Liaison for Dean of Students, a mentoring program for undergraduate students wishing to explore the field of student affairs.

“It allows students to work with him directly for a year,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, executive assistant to the dean of students. “Many of the students who participate in the program go on to do a master’s program.”

Billy Curtis, former assistant dean of students and current executive director of the campus’s Multicultural, Sexuality and Gender Centers, participated in the search committee that hired Poullard in 2006 and continued to work with him until 2009.

“It’s such a loss to the campus,” Curtis said of Poullard’s departure. “He brought a sense of professionalism to the student affairs department. He was instrumental in taking the office of student life to the level that it is now.”

Jose Hernandez covers campus life. Contact him at [email protected].