From the Desk of Dean Kate…Focusing on strength to start the new year

by Kate McCaffrey
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

August is here and I am simultaneously thinking “Where did the summer go?” and “A new year is always so exciting!” This is the cognitive dissonance of student affairs professionals across the country—Christmas in July, New Year rituals in August.

New year, new students, new faculty and staff all joining our community. New program ideas and new adventures await. I spend this part of August fine-tuning the plans for the academic year, implementing quality time with staff in daylong retreats, preparing for student leader training and welcome back messages!

Likely, you are preparing to send your student back to campus, and for many of you, multiple students at different levels of their education and readiness to return to school. It is also likely, you are very ready for this to occur. This new ‘academic’ year ritual is not unlike the January excitement and resolve of new resolutions; new goals and new perspectives.

The theme this year I will be sharing with our staff is that of strength. How do we be more aware of our strengths individually and collectively? How do we understand the strength of our community and its members? How do we use our strengths to truly fulfill our mission of creating a stellar student experience on campus?

Our students can also focus on identifying and building upon their many strengths. They are stronger than they think they are! Many students face challenges in and out of the classroom each academic year. They will wonder if they are in the right place, made the right choice, have the right group of friends and whether they can manage their academic workload. They will make choices from which they will learn valuable lessons that will last a lifetime; they will achieve something they thought wasn’t possible and they will persevere in ways they may have not realized they could.

This quote resonates with me and is good to keep in mind as we enter into a new year: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Get confident being uncertain. Don’t give up just because something is hard. Pushing through challenges is what makes us grow.

I believe that Gen Z has grit and our job is to allow them to exercise it in learning and shaping their future.

We look forward to a new year and engaging with your students through the adventure that comes with new beginnings, and seeing what strengths they add to our vibrant community.

See campus from our perspective
In each edition of “From the Desk of Dean Kate,” I will be sharing a picture of somewhere on campus from my perspective. The first three parents to email me at [email protected] and guess the right location where the picture was taken will receive a coupon for a coffee or tea beverage at one of our on-campus cafes! The first image appears at the top of this blog. Looking forward to hearing your guesses.

Here’s to a great start to the new year! See you, and your student around campus!
Dean Kate