LC hosts goodbye party for Anna Gonzalez

Photograph by Jo Tabacek

By Gelsey Plaza

Lewis & Clark held a “#OrangeUGlad2KnowAnna” goodbye party on Sept. 13 for former Lewis & Clark Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez. She has left LC to become the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, of which she began her new role on Aug. 1. Some of the speakers at the event included Director of Housing and Orientation Sandi Bottemiller, Professor of Psychology Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell and Board of Trustees Paula Hayes.

Bottemiller recalls Anna’s lively and enthusiastic personality.

“Anna had us dancing at orientation, doing the hula at the spring luau, judging lip sync contests at Maggie’s, and Iron Chef competitions in Fields Dining Room,” Bottemiller said. “She initiated Dog Day which was an instant favorite for our students.”

President Wim Wiewel said Anna was a wonderful Dean of Students who was very energetic, enthusiastic and a warm person.

“She’s like a tornado; she touches down on a lot of different places and when she’s there she tends to be very present,” Wiewel said. “She’ll be hard to replace.”

While the administration is searching for a replacement for Anna, Wiewel has appointed Associate Vice President of Alumni, Parent and Student Engagement Andrew McPheeters to be Interim Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students.

On June 1, Wiewel adopted some new organizational structures. First, the Dean of Students is now titled the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students. Second, the former Dean of Students position no longer reports to the Provost, now an eliminated position, and reports instead directly to the President. Furthermore, the Office of Spiritual Life was moved from the Provost area into Student Life.  

“In  t he month  and a half now  that I have worked  with [McPheeters] in his role, I have really been impressed by his thoughtfulness,” Wiewel said. “He is very good at thinking through what must be done and how it must be done. I am very happy to be working with him.”

McPheeters accepted the temporary role of Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students because he respects his colleagues and wants to make the transition as positive as possible.

“I feel fortunate to work with our student body and know they are amazing and go on to do amazing things as alumni,” McPheeters said over email. “I have seen President Wiewel’s dedication to Lewis & Clark and his care and concern for students and I want to support him in that work.”

The search committee for the new Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students interviewed nine finalists via video. Out of these, the committee will choose three to four to bring to campus in late September or early October.

According to Wiewel, they are a very strong pool of candidates.

“You need somebody who is a strong leader; somebody who is warm and loves students; but they also have to be really professional about it,” Wiewel said. “And at times that means hard-nosed. You have to be willing to say, ‘This program sounds like a great idea, but it really isn’t worth the money. It doesn’t help. We should really be doing this.’ And while the person has to love students, at times you got to be tough with students, too. You have to be willing to tell people ‘No, you cannot do this.’ As Anna said [at the event], ‘I love all the students, but I don’t always like them.’ You need somebody who both has the ability to be caring and compassionate but also analytical, who can manage a budget, who can manage personnel, and tough enough to deal with problem-cases.”

Wiewel hopes the new Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will take office in the beginning of Jan. 2019.

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