WILLIAMSBURG — Over the previous month, the School of William & Mary’s new dean of scholars has been exhausting at work.
Stacey Harris, who started her new position Might 10, has been within the space simply lengthy sufficient to attend a number of graduation ceremonies and to fulfill some college students. However in that quick time, she’s already seen simply how particular it’s at William & Mary.
“Once I acquired to campus right here for the interview (in March), it was fascinating. It was like coming residence,” she stated. “It was actually an unbelievable expertise. … That vibe of group that you simply hear quite a lot of about is not any joke. It is vitally true right here. I went residence and I stated, ‘I hope they name as a result of it’s the proper place.’”
As the brand new dean of scholars, Harris succeeds Marjorie Thomas, who left in July 2021 to affix the New School of Florida in Sarasota, and takes over for Mark Sikes, who spent 10 months because the interim dean.
When Harris was introduced publicly in March, Vice President for Scholar Affairs Ginger Ambler famous Harris’ “distinctive document of success, significantly within the areas of accessibility providers, restorative practices and battle decision.”
Now, after watching Harris on the job for the previous month, Ambler is much more impressed.
Since day one, Harris’ “ardour for serving our college students has been evident,” Ambler stated. “Dedicated to collaboration, she’s rapidly studying about our college and assembly new colleagues. Dean Harris has an distinctive document of success as a pupil affairs skilled, significantly within the areas of accessibility providers, restorative practices and battle decision. We’re thrilled she has introduced her skills and power to William & Mary.”
In her place, Harris will “play a central position in realizing the division’s imaginative and prescient to create an enticing studying surroundings the place group is strengthened and people flourish,” in keeping with William & Mary.
The dean of scholars’ workplace supervises an array of vital student-life program areas, together with “tutorial enrichment packages, group values and restorative practices (pupil honor and conduct), pupil accessibility providers, pupil providers and care help, guardian and household packages, the Haven and the Heart for Scholar Variety.”
For Harris, taking over the place means striving to make sure that the dean of scholars’ workplace is as approachable and enmeshed within the college group as she herself desires to be.
“The historical past of the dean of scholars’ workplace has this outdated view of them being the principal,” she stated. “I undoubtedly wish to make sure that our workplace is a spot the place college students can are available … (and) make it possible for they know us.”
Harris, who was born on an Military base in Munich, Germany, spent most of her life in Massachusetts, each when she was rising up and through her 14 years at Boston College, the place she served as a member of the Scholar Life Administration Workforce below the affiliate provost and dean of scholars. All collectively, she’s labored in larger training for 23 years, having beforehand held management positions at Lesley College and Monmouth College.
She holds a bachelor’s diploma from Curry School, a legislation diploma from Suffolk College Legislation Faculty and certifications in mediation, restorative justice dialogue and social justice mediation.
Making the choice to go away the Boston space, the place Harris’ mother and father and daughter nonetheless reside, wasn’t straightforward, however Harris knew it was the proper time for her to stretch her wings.
“As with a lot of faculties the place folks like to work and rarely go away, I used to be rising horizontally as an alternative of vertically,” she stated. “I saved including items after which, throughout the pandemic, I started instructing folks battle decision by way of a restorative dialogue follow, and that actually grew to become an vital piece of who I’m professionally and personally, and it was time to place it multi functional field.”
For Harris, an enormous a part of taking over the dean of scholars place is to forge relationships with the folks that attend William & Mary in addition to members of the college and employees.
A part of her dedication to approachability consists of assembly college students on their residence turf, at eating halls and occasions. She performs music practically always, letting it path out of her open workplace door and down the corridor simply in case it encourages somebody to drop by for a chat. Inside her momentary workplace within the Campus Heart on Jamestown Street, Harris’ decorations embrace images of her household, together with her spouse and two youngsters, and a number of Funko Pops. She hopes to embellish her partitions with pupil artwork.
Rising up, Harris, who struggled with dyslexia, didn’t all the time have the best time with college. In school, she attended a conventional liberal arts college with a aspect program for college kids who’re dyslexic, the place the lecturers helped her really feel “very seen,” she stated.
“It wasn’t in regards to the battle with studying to method the tutorial world, it was that they only acquired me as a human,” Harris stated. “That was the reward, and I used to be like, oh, that’s me. I would like to do this for different folks.”
That have helped encourage Harris to start working in larger training within the hopes of getting an opportunity to assist college students who want it, identical to she did.
“In larger ed, you alter the world one human at a time,” she stated. “Perhaps now I may help change 10 people at a time, somewhat tiny bit, if they permit me to.”
Harris imagines summer time will go by rapidly as she makes use of the weeks earlier than orientation and when most college students begin arriving again on campus to construct a foundational data. That means, she will be able to hit the bottom working.
As typical, Spotify is enjoying and her door is open.
Sian Wilkerson, email@example.com, 757-342-6616