Tara Frank named assistant dean of students

James Vaughn

The university has hired Tara Frank as the assistant dean of students, in effect July 1.

Frank is currently completing her doctorate degree in higher education at Virginia Tech.

She visited the university April 10 to interview for the position. A large committee of university representatives and two students conducted a closed on-campus luncheon to judge the candidates.

Senior health services major Amanda Porter attended the luncheon.

“She’s warm and inviting,” Porter said. “I feel like she’s someone people can talk to easily.”

Frank was very well researched and has great ideas that will implement USI’s goals. She’s looking forward to getting involved and collaborating offices, Porter said.

“She is very student focused,” she said.

The previous dean of students, Barry Schonberger, planned the assistant dean of students position because the dean of students alone cannot meet the needs of all students on campus.

Shelly Blunt, interim assistant provost for academic affairs, led the hiring committee responsible for choosing the assistant dean of students.

Blunt said Frank was the best fit for the job and stood out to her.

“She had good rapport with students and was very articulate,” Blunt said.

Frank is expected to bring a broad range of experience and be an advocate for students. She will help the dean of students office grow and develop, Blunt said.

Frank said she is excited to join the university.

The Norfolk, Va., native also holds a master’s degree in counseling.

She said USI reminds her of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“It’s the type of school I went to as an undergrad, so it fits my personality,” Frank said. “The students are really down to earth and it seems like they really value their education.”

Prior to her doctoral studies, she was the director of student activities and the assistant dean of students at Lehigh University. Before that, she was the assistant director of student activities at Emory University. Her first job in higher education was at Rutgers University, where she served as the assistant director of student involvement.

Her priority is to change the image of the dean of students’ office and create partnerships with other offices on campus. She wants to connect with students on a regular basis and make the office a fun place, she said.

“I plan to have a visible presence on campus,” Frank said. “I want to attend different events and get involved with a variety of organizations.”

She said her main goal, though, is to continue the good work Dean of Students Angela Batista is doing.

Batista said she met Frank when she was on campus in April.

“She’ll bring different experiences,” Batista said. “We were all very impressed (with her interview).”

Batista looks forward to working closely with Frank, she said.

“We’ve been working hard to make this office an advocate for all students,” Batista said. “She’s going to be a great addition to USI and our team.”