BOONE—In its search for a new dean of students, Appalachian State invited four candidates to a Q&A session in order for students to get an idea about who these candidates are and what they hope to accomplish at Appalachian State.
Below are summaries and excerpts from each of these sessions.
Francesca “Checka” Leinwall, associate vice president for Student Affairs at Northern State University, said she is passionate about students and aims to build solid relationships to ensure their needs are met.
Leinwall said she also brings expertise as the Title IX coordinator at Northern and that she believes in moving to a trauma-based model over an investigative model but that there should still be accountability for both parties during the process.
She said she is committed to diversity and started a program to help Native American students succeed in college at Northern.
She said that at her previous school, the police department reported to her and she was able to build relationships between students and police through meet and greets, and would try to do the same at Appalachian.
She said that training is the solution to having students not feeling supported by the police and aims to “help people become their better selves.”
She said growth is important but there are diminishing returns and it is important to maintain the quality of experience.
Leinwall said she is excited about working at Appalachian and that this is a school she would “push a broom to work at.”
Scott Kane is currently the dean of students at Rhode Island College, a small, diverse school with many low-income and first generation students in attendance.
Kane said that while making good grades on tests is important, it is also important to put in time outside of the classroom and work on leadership and communication skills.
Additionally, Kane has experience in pushing for diversity and wants to continue that trend at Appalachian.
Kane said he is open to disagreeing with those he works with in order to represent the students, as that is his primary job. He said he is about “putting students first,” and has found that open disagreement can often lead to finding common ground, as big compromises can cause tension.
Kane has also implemented a program at Rhode Island College revolving around sexual assault on campuses. Traditionally, there is a Title IX coordinator that handles the entire case, working closely with the dean of students; however, Kane has implemented a plan that has proven successful so far. The plan separates the dean of students’ position from the Title IX coordinator so that the coordinator can focus on paperwork and the system, while the dean of students can handle communication and accommodations for those involved.
Kane also made a point and said that if chosen, he would like to learn more about Appalachian and the needs and wants of students before making any decisions or taking any actions. He said that he does not want students to feel as though an outsider is coming in and making changes “his way,” and wants to base his decisions around what will be best for Appalachian.
Shuili Xu, senior consultant at the Canadian International Education Service Center, said he would focus on increasing inclusion and diversity at Appalachian through action and not just rhetoric.
“You have to use actions,” Xu said, “to prove what you said you were going to do.”
Xu also said that diversity requirements appear in all school’s code of conduct, and that he would do his best to make sure it actually happens at Appalachian, even if that means removing and adding new programs.
While Xu did place an emphasis on diversity, he also stressed the importance of inclusion and how having a diversified student body alone is not enough.
Xu said that students need an established community that will engage all students to create inclusivity.
Xu also talked about the implicit bias that he said many harbor when it comes to issues of diversity.
“When we talk about diversity, we have to talk about changing the unconscious mind,” Xu said.
Xu said that education must be used to challenge people, even school administrators, in a productive manner. He said that people should listen and show respect, not personally attack.
Xu was also the dean of students at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences from 2010 to 2016.
Jonathon Hyde, director of residential life and education at Louisiana State University, said he strives to be a student advocate and ensure they have a healthy learning environment.
“I strive to advocate on what students want from administration so that they know I care,” Hyde said.
He also said many different elements are critical to students’ success and that if a student is not healthy, mentally or physically, they cannot be a successful student.
Hyde said his background in criminal justice helps him to negotiate between the concerns of students and the police so their presence can be viewed as protective rather than threatening.
Besides social injustices people may experience with cops, Hyde believes that lack of sustainability could lead to injustice. He pointed out how limited resources could be cut from at risk communities.
Hyde said he was drawn to Appalachian because of the school’s reputation on sustainability and is particularly fascinated with its wind turbines.
However, Hyde would also like to see what other sustainability habits he could bring to the students at Appalachian, such as energy reduction and recycling clothes.
Story by; Sammy Hanf, News Editor; Ben Sessoms, Associate News Editor; Jackie Park, News Reporter; Anna Dollar, News Reporter