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  July 30, 2001

New Dean of Students Will Seek
to Create 'Small College' Feel

John Saddlemire, former vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, has been appointed as UConn's new dean of students. He assumed the post, recently reconfigured to place greater emphasis on enhancing the total student experience through student development and community building, on July 6.

"The dean of students is responsible for creating and sustaining a campus climate that promotes students' positive growth and encourages their active engagement," says Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs. The Dean of Students Office is part of the Division of Student Affairs.

"Through student advocacy and relationship building, the dean will provide the leadership necessary to ensure that all students come to feel welcome and connected with the UConn campus community," Triponey adds. "John Saddlemire is an experienced leader in the student affairs profession. He will really bring this job description to life."

Last month, the University Senate approved by-law changes to move coordination of the academic probation and dismissal process from the Dean of Students Office to the Office of Undergraduate Education. The move, says Triponey, will enable the Dean of Students Office to pay more attention to community building at the University's Storrs and regional campuses. Student conduct issues will remain part of the dean of students' portfolio.

Saddlemire says his first steps will be to reach out to the various constituencies of the University to begin building relationship s and gain a sense of the institution's history and present. He will also work closely with staff of the Dean of Students Office to help them understand their new mission.

Saddlemire was appointed after a national search, conducted by a committee headed by Susan Steele, former vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction. He joins UConn from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, a college with a student body of about 1,400. He also has experience working in larger, more complex universities, such as Penn State.

Triponey says she expects Saddlemire to create a small college atmosphere for students at UConn. "John brings a blend of experience at small and large institutions," she says. "At Heidelberg College, he is very close to the entire student body. He will help us take the lessons from a small college and apply them to a much bigger university. A big institution doesn't have to be impersonal."

Saddlemire says that although the ratios may vary at institutions of different sizes, certain approaches and the philosophy of a "caring style of doing work" are applicable anywhere. "The small school experience really teaches you that the central focus for student affairs needs to be on the students themselves. Every student is an individual and that is very translatable to a larger institution," he says.

Saddlemire holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bowling Green State University, a master's degree in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University, and a doctorate in higher education administration from Penn State University.

During his career, he has successfully launched a variety of initiatives to support underrepresented student populations. At Penn State, he served as student affairs advisor to the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students Association. At Heidelberg College, he helped establish women's leadership conferences and black and Latino student unions.

"John assists students in organizing, understanding the context in which they operate, and developing avenues to educate others and improve their place within the campus community," says Triponey.

UConn's previous dean of students, Sharon Kipetz, left the University in 1999. Peggy Jablonski has served as interim associate vice chancellor for student affairs while the position was re-evaluated and ultimately the associate vice chancellor and dean of students were merged into one position.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu

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