Three candidates vie for dean of students

Bobby Shipman

A Dean of Students Search Committee identified three candidates to replace outgoing Dean of Students Angela Batista.

The candidates began their presentation style interviews Monday in Carter Hall. The campus community is invited to meet the candidates and listen to each deliver their presentation.

Associate Provost for Student Affairs Marcia Kiessling is the committee chair, and she said they are looking for a leader who can be an advocate for students and keep the university in a position of compliance.

“The Dean of Students position is really difficult because you have all these laws,” Kiessling said. “The laws change weekly and monthly, and so we have to stay up with that, because if we don’t, then we’re not serving our students or our institution to the best of our ability.”

Kiessling said that equally as (or more than) important is the candidate’s service to students.

“Helping our students succeed. Helping them have a voice. Helping them understand what resources are available,” Kiessling said. “Students’ lives are so complex today and so we are working hard to make sure, if you don’t know what to do, there’s an office you can go to and a staff to support you.”

Kiessling said the university has worked hard to make the Dean of Students Office one that makes students say, “Hey, they are going to care about what I think.’”

The first candidate, Bryan Rush, presented Monday.

Rush has been the vice president for student services and dean of students at Erskine College since 2014.

He has a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia, where he is also adjunct faculty in the same field at the College of Education.

Rush received his Bachelor’s degree in arts in history from Erskine in 1998.

Heather Webb, director of student standards and deputy Title IX coordinator at Eastern Illinois University since 2006, presented Tuesday.

Webb has a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Purdue University, where she also received her Master’s degree in education, counseling and development, and a Bachelor’s in communications and public relations.

A third candidate, who has yet to be named, will present Monday.

Another quality the committee seeks is good leadership because whoever is offered the position will supervise many areas.

“Somebody who has very collaborative, collegial values and treats students equally,” Kiessling said.

Dean of Students Angela Batista accepted a position as associate vice-provost and dean of students at Oregon State University in February.