Even deans can be rowdy during a cappella concerts.
The student a cappella groups Shades and Magevet closed day one of the New England Deans’ Meeting — an annual gathering that was attended by nearly 80 deans from around the region representing 30 colleges and universities — on Thursday. The group met yesterday and will continue in sessions today to explore ways in which universities can globalize and enhance the on-campus climate for their students.
“It’s been a great meeting,” said Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry, who organized the conference. “Everyone who’s come has enjoyed it — the flow at the planning sessions and in the groups has been great.”
Participating schools ranged from Harvard University to smaller liberal-arts colleges; Vassar, Bowdoin and Bates colleges all sent representatives. The University of Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico also sent two participants — surprising for a conference tailored to New Englanders but perhaps appropriate given the summit’s international focus.
The New England Deans’ Meeting, an “informal gathering,” as Gentry described it, convenes annually at a different host college. Over the course of the conference, participating deans spend one day discussing a theme proposed by the host school — in this case, internationalization — and the other trading stories and ideas about myriad on-campus issues.
Between the gift bags emblazoned with the Yale College seal and the plush surroundings of the Graduate Club on Elm Street, the University went to great lengths to be welcoming to the visiting dignitaries.
“This was the most civilized meeting of these folks we’ve had in several years,” said Lori Tenser, dean of the first-year class of Wellesley College. “[Yale] was a most hospitable host.”
During Thursday’s opening session, Gentry kicked off the conference and then ceded the microphone to Associate Dean for International Affairs Jane Edwards. Edwards worked quickly through the changing face of international programs at the university level, focusing her opening remarks on study-abroad programs. The cultural education from living abroad, Edwards said, has become much more accessible for students as universities embrace such programs while growing more elusive as e-mail and Western culture spread.
“These new technologies have made it essentially impossible to leave home,” Edwards said.
Later in the day, the assembled administrators heard from two Yale undergraduates, Alexandra Suich ’08 and Margaret Mapondera ’09, who shared their experiences traveling abroad and offered advice to the administrators on how best to promote a receptive university attitude toward international study and travel.
“People in the audience were very interested in students and the student experience,” Suich said, recalling that one dean asked her opinion about whether colleges should encourage students to study abroad early or late in their undergraduate years.
Today’s events will include a series of workshops addressing alcohol abuse and dealing with so-called “helicopter parents” — mothers and fathers who just cannot seem to stop hovering around their college children.