Sara Waldron, Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs
The other night I had the pleasure of taking three students to dinner in Madison. I had donated “Dinner with the Dean” to the annual Orientation Coordinator auction and found myself sitting down to a meal with the highest bidders. One can only guess the reasons why any student would take a chance on winning dinner with the new dean and what they expected. As I sat at the table with those young men and heard about their experiences at Drew, clearly I was the winner that evening.
Gathering around the table gave me the opportunity to hear first hand why these young men chose Drew and how each of them has benefitted from their time in the Forest. Unique as these students are, a senior, a junior, a sophomore, each with a different major and from different parts of the country, they share a common bond through their Drew experience. In turn they spoke of selecting Drew for its academic reputation in the liberal arts, small classes that would afford them personal interactions with professors, and opportunities to grow intellectually and personally.
Each of them has high aspirations and they felt that Drew would prepare them to take on the challenges of work and life. And prepare them Drew has. One will begin an intensive internship this fall that will open doors to his chosen career. Another came to Drew thinking he would major in one subject but changed his mind after a philosophy class introduced him to a field of study he had never considered. One played rugby for a year but stopped after realizing the risk of injury to his hands. Good decision as he will enter medical school in the fall to become a surgeon.
As successful as each of these students is in the classroom they are also actively engaged in the life of campus. Enthusiastically they told me about their involvement with clubs and activities and how those experiences enabled them to form friendships with other students they otherwise would not have met. They shared stories of living in residence halls with people from different backgrounds, faiths and political views. They recounted how they would stay up all hours talking, sometimes arguing, but always learning how to live together and understand the world from another point of view.
Collectively these students are members of religious organizations, hold leadership positions on campus, serve on the student conduct board and have been involved with service projects at home and abroad. They are Drew. They represent the best of what we hope a student will gain from their time on this beautiful campus. Listening to them that evening affirmed my decision to come to Drew as the Dean of Campus Life and Student Affairs this March.
In Campus Life and Student Affairs we strive to foster an environment in which students feel safe to explore new ideas and question their values. We assist students in creating a community where they have conversations of meaning, learn to value diversity, develop skills to resolve disputes civilly, and test the boundaries of personal freedoms. We provide support services and resources to enable them to make informed decisions about their health and relationships, and programs to develop leadership skills. We do all that we can to help them integrate their learning in the classroom into their activities and experiences out of the classroom. If the three students I had dinner with are an indicator of our success, I’d say we are doing a great job.