Berry picked: new assistant dean transitions to DOSO

Gabi Wy

New Assistant Dean of Student Laurie Berry goes over paperwork with Dean of Students Bryan Rush Tuesday at DOSO/The Shield Isaac Williams
New Assistant Dean of Students Laurie Berry, right, goes over paperwork with Dean of Students Bryan Rush, left, Tuesday at DOSO. Photography by Isaac Williams/The Shield

When previous Assistant Dean of Students Tara Frank departed from Evansville to work closer to home, Laurie Berry saw an opportunity for her educational aspirations to come to fruition.

Something about being at a university struck a chord in Berry’s heart, even as a student.

“I found that I was really comfortable in the college setting,” she said. “I joked with my parents as a student, ‘Oh, I’m never leaving here.’”

Little did they know that she really meant it.

The former director of Housing and Residence Life was hired over the summer to take Frank’s place as the university’s assistant dean of students.

She received both her undergraduate degree (English literature with a writing minor) and graduate degree (student personnel services) from Western Kentucky University, completing her education in 1990 and worked in housing and residence life at WKU before graduating.

In 1992, USI employed Berry as a part-time housing coordinator, soon moving on to a full time position. She has worked at the university ever since.

Berry currently studies in a doctorate program through Indiana State University for educational leadership. Within the housing department, she held a position over student conduct, an area that interested her.

“What resonated with me about that position was working with students one on one and working with students in crisis. When this position opened, it met my educational goals. It seemed to be a good position for me to move forward,” Berry said. “I’m excited to work with staff and with students in different ways than I could as director of housing.”

Berry’s familiarity with the campus enhances her excitement toward her new role.

“I like that it feels like a right-sized institution for me,” she said. “It’s not too small … not too big. It’s the right size. You get to see a variety of people, and it’s a tight-knit community.”

During Berry’s transition, she said that the staff in the dean of students office has been nothing but welcoming.

The DOSO workers include Senior Administrative Assistant Kayla DeLong, Graduate Assistant Ashley Hughes and Administrative Associate Britney Orth.

DeLong previously worked with Berry in the housing department and said that although Berry’s personality seems subdued, she possesses a hardworking spirit.

“She’s a self-described introvert,” DeLong said. “She would say that, but she loves working and meeting with students. Even in housing, she was always trying to think of how to help students and assist them in the best way possible. As a supervisor, she was always looking for ways to professionally develop her staff.”

While Berry is a familiar face to the campus, she will be working closely with newly appointed Dean of Students Bryan Rush, who recently moved to Evansville from South Carolina.

“Getting to work with Rush is going to be exciting,” Berry said. “I saw him when he was interviewing, and we happen to have a colleague in the housing profession that knows both of us. As soon as Rush was hired, (the colleague) reached out to me and told me I needed to find a way to work with him. This position just seemed to come open at the right time, and I’m very excited about it.”

The position of assistant dean entails working with student conduct and government, supervising hearing officers and dealing with admissions reviews, and Berry looks forward to aiding students in their college experiences.

“I want to make sure that when students come in seeking help that we’re able to make those connections,” she said. “We may not be able to solve the problem for them, but we want to help them find that path and not be shuffled around from office to office.”

Berry said she wants to see effectiveness in how the administration works together.

“As a focus area, we’re going to try to work together (as a staff) more efficiently,” she said. “We’ll probably do a better job of it this year because we’re all on the same page.”