Next fall’s arrival of Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86 as vice president for student life will bring much-needed oversight to student affairs, administrators said.
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As part of her new role, Goff-Crews will chair a new committee of student life administrators from Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools. Future members of that committee said they have collaborated occasionally in the past but have lacked consistent coordination. Though students’ academic lives differ substantially across Yale’s schools, administrators said they would benefit from a more formal exchange of ideas and practices.
“The management of student services and student life issues is highly decentralized at Yale,” said Lisa Brandes GRD ’94, director of graduate student life at the McDougal Center, “so I see the creation of this new position of VP for Student Life as a very positive step.”
Martha Highsmith DIV ’95, deputy secretary for the University, currently chairs a committee of student life deans in the graduate and professional schools, but University President Richard Levin said Goff-Crews’ new committee will meet more regularly and include a representative from Yale College.
Highsmith did not respond to questions about the committee’s operations or how Goff-Crews’ arrival would affect her role as chair.
Dale Peterson, associate dean of student affairs at the Divinity School, said meetings between administrators have been productive since they allowed the deans to address common concerns. For example, he said, Brandes brought the deans together to discuss ways of designing effective orientation programs.
Peterson added that student life deans would benefit from increased collaboration because all graduate and professional students encounter similar issues outside of their academic lives, such as traveling safely to off-campus residences or raising children while working toward a degree.
But Peterson said schools will still have to generate some policies individually to meet the unique needs of their students.
“Half of [the Divinity School’s] students are preparing for something that would generally be regarded as church-related,” Peterson said. “The things that are unique to that particular goal and vocation are things that are dealt with within our curriculum.”
Janet Conroy, Law School spokeswoman, said the Law School internally addresses many of its students’ needs, such as help with studying for the bar examination or navigating the requirements of a joint-degree program.
Graduate and Professional School Student Senate President Emily Stoops GRD ’13 said she hopes the greater coordination will provide a platform for the Senate to interact more with administrators. She added that problems often arise concerning safety, housing, transportation to and from campus, and inclusion in the broader campus culture.
Yale College Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry did not respond to several requests for comment about his role in the new system.
Goff-Crews currently serves as vice president for campus life and dean of students at the University of Chicago.