Joseph Greenwell of San Francisco State to succeed Jonathan Poullard as dean of students

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Joseph Greenwell was announced as the new UC Berkeley associate vice chancellor and dean of students by Harry Le Grande, campus vice chancellor for student affairs, on Wednesday.

Currently the dean of students at San Francisco State University, Greenwell will succeed Jonathan Poullard, after Poullard’s resignation from the post in September. He will begin his term May 1, taking over from interim dean of students, David Surratt.

At SFSU, Greenwell worked considerably with student groups and oversaw residential life, student conduct and crisis management. Prior to that, Greenwell held various positions relating to student affairs at Stanford University, Colgate University and Vanderbilt University.

“Berkeley takes what I love most from my two most recent universities, SF State and Stanford, and combines them,” Greenwell said in an email. “Specifically, I appreciate Berkeley’s incredible academic rigor, entrepreneurism, social consciousness, global perspective and activist spirit.”

As dean of students at UC Berkeley, Greenwell will oversee student groups and activities, as well as emergency and crisis situations relating to students. He will also assume responsibility of the ASUC Auxiliary, student legal services and the Career Center, among several other areas.

“I see his role as being a bridge builder, a coalition builder and an advocate for students when he’s at tables that students aren’t invited to,” said ASUC President DeeJay Pepito.

Greenwell was selected through a process that began in the fall, and students were invited to meet and question the four finalists during open student forums in March. Their comments, as well as feedback from a search committee made up of Pepito and other students, faculty and staff representatives, were considered by Le Grande in his decision.

Pepito said Greenwell brought an interesting perspective from his experience in both highly competitive and public institutions, making him stand out from the other candidates.

Le Grande said he hopes Greenwell will be accessible to students and be willing to serve as a mentor — a priority that Poullard set during his tenure as dean of students. In 2006, Poullard created the Student Liaison for Dean of Students, a mentoring program for undergraduate students wanting to explore the field of student affairs.

Greenwell’s administrative career is similar in many ways to that of his predecessor. Before joining UC Berkeley, Poullard also worked at a number of student affairs offices at different universities, including California State University, San Marcos; Occidental College; and Pennsylvania State University.

In his role, Greenwell will also have to address any student protests that may occur. Poullard’s response to Occupy Cal protests in 2011 came under fire with many students when he agreed with former chancellor Robert Birgeneau that linking arms to prevent police from entering an encampment was not “nonviolent civil disobedience.”

“I hope that Greenwell doesn’t just help (protesters) understand how their opinions might impact others but also help advocate for those opinions during protests to administrators and other students who may not understand where the protesters are coming from,” Pepito said.

Over the past academic year, the campus has seen the turnover of a number of senior administrators. Chancellor Nicholas Dirks took office in June, while Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele started at UC Berkeley on Tuesday.

“This is an exciting time for UC Berkeley with new senior leadership, strategic planning, and various initiatives,” Greenwell said in an email. “I am excited to have the opportunity to play a part in shaping Cal’s future.”

Somin Park is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_sominpark.