Dean of student affairs position divided between Taber, Dekay

By Cathy Brown, Contributing Writer 

Unlike past semesters, this year F&M does not have a Dean of student affairs. Following the departure of Dean Steven O’Day in the Spring of 2013, the position was vacated and filling it became the responsibility of Margaret Hazlett, dean of the College. Instead of hiring just one individual to take over O’Day’s duties, she chose instead to divide the job between two associate deans: Ralph Taber and Todd DeKay.

Hazlett, who herself had been recently hired to replace Kent Trachte, former dean of the College, explains her rationale for filling the Student Affairs position as she did.

“I wanted to learn about F&M’s needs first,” she said. “I didn’t know what I needed to be looking for right away.”

While Hazlett works to see how best to structure F&M’s administration, Taber and DeKay have each taken on some components of the Student Affairs position in addition to their previous roles at the College. According to Hazlett, Taber now oversees student life and leadership development, which means that aspects of college such as spiritual life, campus programs, Greek life, and multi-cultural student programs now report to him. In contrast, DeKay focuses more on academic affairs and student discipline, so he oversees the deans of the various college houses, in addition to programs such as F&M’s wellness programs.

“I haven’t quite figured out what the configuration will look like yet,” Hazlett said. “I expect to have a better sense of the ultimate structure in about a month.” She does, however, like that O’Day’s former responsibilities have been separated, since it allows for more collaborative thinking among members of the administration.

Taber and DeKay each spoke highly of their new roles.

Taber, who is the associate dean of the College and director of the Klehr Center for Jewish life, has long worked in F&M’s administration.

“I came to the College in the spring of 1986 to serve as the director of residence life. Since that time I have either directed or supervised many others responsible for overseeing most of the areas supporting the student’s out of the classroom experiences,” Taber said. “I have been very fortunate to have worked for F&M and with so many talented and committed students, staff, faculty, parents and alumni over the years.”

Taber also noted that he had already been closely working with the religious and spiritual life program, as well as with the College Center and the LGBTA coordinator prior to his appointment to his new duties.

DeKay, associate dean of the College and director of disability services, came to F&M in 1997 as a visiting faculty member, but then became the original Prefect — then called a “House Dean” — of what is now Ware College House.

More recently, DeKay has dealt more with academic affairs than residential life.

“I am still in charge of student academic affairs from the administrative side of things, but have added roles of overseeing student conduct and judicial affairs, and housing,” DeKay said of his new job duties. “My favorite part of my new responsibilities is that I have an increased ability to affect our students’ experiences in a positive way.  F&M is a special place and I’m thrilled to be a part of improving what we do and making it the best it can be for our students.”

Hazlett, who was senior associate dean of student affairs at Bowdoin College before coming to F&M, praised Taber and DeKay’s work.

“Ralph and Todd are doing amazing work and I’m really appreciative,” she commented.

Senior Cathy Brown is a contributing writer. Her email is cbrown2@fandm.edu.

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