Lewis & Clark recently welcomed a new member to the administration, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, Robin Holmes-Sullivan. While Holmes-Sullivan last served as the Vice President for Student Affairs for the University of California system, she is no stranger to Oregon. She started her career at the University of Oregon, working there for 25 years, first as a clinical psychologist and eventually as the Vice President for Student Life. Holmes-Sullivan expressed her love for working with college students.
“I really like what’s going on in a college student’s life — everything’s happening,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, and that’s just before lunch. So lots of things are going on, and it’s really exciting to be a part of that.”
As a clinical psychologist, Holmes-Sullivan has a unique view into college student life.
“College students are, most of the time, pretty resilient, and so as a clinical psychologist I could work with folks who were really really struggling with a high degree of mental illness, or I could work with this kind of high-functioning group that had a lot of serious things going on, but a very good chance of those thing getting better,” she said. “So, going forward, working on a college campus was kind of a no-brainer.”
Dean of the College Bruce Suttmeier commented on her hiring.
“To say that I was enthusiastic about her candidacy is an understatement,” he said via email. “She is beyond impressive — deeply experienced in all aspects of student life, academics, enrollment; thoughtful when discussing current challenges in higher ed; collegial, warm, funny — I knew right away that LC — students, staff, faculty, all of us — would benefit a great deal having her on Palatine Hill.”
Elizabeth Brandel ’21 has been working in the Dean of Students office for over a year and looks forward to working with Holmes-Sullivan.
“I would say the goal that we have in the office is to … connect students and plan events for them,” Brandel said. “I could totally see the goals of the office shifting even more student-centered and focused with Robin.”
Holmes-Sullivan brings important perspectives from her experiences as a former athlete.
“I’m very competitive, in a terrible way, still,” she said. “And I really love what I do. I give 110 percent when I’m here, but I am also very, very dedicated to my family and my family life, and so I try to give 110 percent there, too.”
Holmes-Sullivan is already initiating several big projects to get the students involved with the LC Strategic Plan, starting by focusing on social areas around campus, such as Templeton Campus Center and the dorms.
Among all her plans to improve student life in the coming years, Holmes-Sullivan is focusing on the location of the school and the large part LC plays in the daily lives of students. For many, the feeling of a community is not prevalent. Living on a hill separate from the rest of the city means there is a greater stress on accessible opportunities.
“My job is how to help ensure that the student experience here is exactly what everyone wants, and so memorable that the students will always want to be a part of Lewis & Clark for ever.”