ODSD Renamed For Clarity's Sake
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
In 1980, when Dean of Students Paul Chebator came to Boston College, the Dean of Students’ Office was a small one, with only five or six staff members. In 1997, after years of growth, the office was renamed the Office of the Dean for Student Development, to reflect its expanded mission. At that time, the office had 20 staff members and encompassed the Alcohol and Drug Education program, the Office of International Programs, Graduate Student Life, Student Programs Office, Crisis Management, and various leadership programs.
“Six years ago, there was a realization that the office had become too big,” Chebator said. “It was unwieldy. We started spinning offices off.”
As a result of that, the Office of International Programs, Graduate Student Life, Alcohol and Drug Education program, the Women’s Resource Center, and many other programs became their own offices or were merged into other departments. In the process, the office staff shrunk down to its original size.
“We changed the name in order to clarify things,” Chebator said. “The name ‘Office of the Dean for Student Development’ implied that other offices did not do student development.”
Now, Chebator describes the mission of the office very succinctly: “to remove barriers for students’ success.” While narrowing its focus, the office has also expanded its work in certain areas. Although the office has divested its counseling offices, it does still coordinate services for students who are in crisis or distress. This is handled by Stacy Green, assistant dean for student support, who helps students who have had to take leave of absences for emotional or health reasons.
Over the past several years, the office has expanded its work with the off-campus student population as well. The office focuses its efforts on teaching students how to live in a community, be good neighbors, and represent BC, in order to prevent problems from arising. When problems do arise, the office serves as a liaison for students and guides them on how to deal with landlord problems.
Though most student conduct issues are handled by Residential Life, the most serious cases go to the Dean of Students’ Office. The office takes the view that conduct is part of the educational system and is responsible for creating the student conduct policy that Residential Life enforces.
“We want to help students understand what it means to be good citizens,” Chebator said. “In addition, their ability to succeed is impacted by bad habits and addictions. We provide support and treatment for those people. We started an ongoing treatment group, which has grown in size over the last several years to four groups a week.”
This year, the office has started a new initiative, led by the assistant dean for student support, to support GLBTQ students by providing counseling services. The office also provides significant support to individuals with physical and mental health handicaps. Paulette Durrett, assistant dean for students with disabilities, works individually with students that comes to her office to help create a plan for them and get them the tools they need to succeed at BC.
Looking to the future, Chebator has a plan of what direction he wants the office to go in its new, smaller form.
“We want to be seen as experts on student life issues on this campus,” Chebator said. “We have started running workshops for Student Affairs and ResLife. We are now reaching out to faculty members, as well.”
Chebator also spoke about the student conduct policy at BC and how he wanted to see it change. While he was proud of some of the new policies, he also saw room for significant improvement. He mentioned the help seeking policy as one of the major accomplishments of his office, citing its 85 uses last year. Chebator also wants the office to continue to support its Bystander Education program, in the hopes that more BC students will stand up for one another.