UC Berkeley students express hopes for new dean of students

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The ASUC Office of the President held a student forum Oct. 3 as part of the campus’ search for a replacement after UC Berkeley Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard resigned last month.

The search committee is made up of 11 student, faculty and staff representatives, including ASUC President DeeJay Pepito, and is chaired by Anne De Luca, associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.

The student forum drew about 20 students who voiced the importance of having a dean of students who is accessible and transparent, according to Austin Pritzkat, Pepito’s chief of staff.

Students said they wanted a dean who would actively participate with students and implement an open-door policy by holding informal meetings with students.

After a November 2011 Occupy Cal protest, Poullard agreed with former UC Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau that students linking arms to prevent police from entering an encampment was not “nonviolent civil disobedience.” In response, students at the meeting expressed concerns that the new dean must understand the rationale behind student protest.

UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly President Max Gee, who also sits on the committee, said he and Pepito will attend all search committee meetings to “make sure the priorities of the undergraduate students are met.”

“The search has just begun, and students will have a voice along every step of the way,” Gee said.

Other search committee members were also present at the student forum. David Robinson, associate campus counsel and a member of the committee, said feedback about what students at the forum wanted and what was discussed at the committee meetings were very similar.

“The dean of students needs to be someone who has communication skills and an ability to really listen to what the student priorities are,” Robinson said. “The dean needs to engage with students and student leadership as partners.”

According to De Luca, the committee discussed looking for someone who understands the unique dynamics of a public institution like UC Berkeley and who is committed to the type of diversity found in the campus community.

Currently, David Surratt is serving as the interim dean of students and will continue to do so until a replacement is found.

The committee, which has only had one meeting so far on Sept. 25, is in the early stages of finding that replacement. De Luca said there is no deadline and hopes to have finalists on campus to meet with different stakeholder groups by early February.

“Our next step is to review the draft of the position profile and, once it is approved, to begin to advertise the position,” De Luca said. “The committee will then focus on sharing the news of the position and encouraging applications from student affairs professionals nationwide.”

Jane Nho covers student government. Contact her at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Anne DeLuca as associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment and acting director of undergraduate admissions. In fact, DeLuca is only the associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.