Still mostly unknown to the majority of the student body, the newly appointed Associate Dean of Students Matthew Burns is roaming campus, meeting with the faculty, talking to student groups and trying to find out what’s happening on the UR campus.

Burns was selected on short notice to fill the position, made vacant when former Associate Dean of Students Ken Rockensies left in July for a new job as Dean of Students at Barry University in Florida. Burns has already made efforts to reach out to student groups, especially Greek organizations and the All-Campus Judicial Council (ACJC), and explore the issues affecting this campus.

Before coming to UR, he worked for 12 years for the residential life office of the University of Hartford in Connecticut, most recently as Director of Residential Life.

Although at times Burns tried to step outside of student affairs, he always found himself drawn back. “I made a decision a long time ago that student affairs was going to be my life,” Burns said.

Maintaining open lines of communication among the student body is one of Burns’ top priorities, and he is eager to try to understand everyone. “I really don’t have a problem just walking up to a group of students and just asking them questions,” he said.

Another priority for Burns is to make sure the judicial system is running as smoothly as possible. He is already trying to find ways to make sure that there is no backlog of disciplinary cases that the office has to resolve. “I’m trying to put systems, processes, interventions that would streamline the judicial process,” he said.

Burns wants to give more responsibility for resolving issues to students themselves and is confident that they can handle it. “In a perfect world, [my] job would be obsolete,” he said. “So I guess my goal is to make my job obsolete [by streamlining the judicial process].” He does not want the judicial process to be an adversarial relationship as it has sometimes been in the past.

Burns has also reached out to communicate with Greek organizations. “There’s been a very strange relationship between the Greeks and this office,” said Burns, who resolves to build a good relationship with the Greeks.

“He already made an effort to reach out to us at an early stage,” said senior and Delta Kappa Epsilon brother Matt Wolfe, who has met with Burns, “which is not something we’ve had before at all.” Burns helped to ensure that the Jeremy Glick Memorial Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert, which will be held this Friday on the Fraternity Quad, will run smoothly by identifying potential problems and helping prevent them.

So far, Burns has been impressed with the faculty and staff at UR. “They tend to be exceptionally well-connected with students and care a lot about them. I haven’t met a faculty member that doesn’t care about the students yet,” he said.

He also has no problem sacrificing personal time for the sake of the students, such as to go to student organization meetings, assemblies, vigils and other events.

Burns was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants. Student and staff representatives of groups such as the All-Campus Judicial Council, University Security, Office of Minority Student Affairs, the Fraternity President’s Council, and others were present at the final candidate interviews and had much leverage in the process. The decisions of students and staff were in Burns’ favor across the board. “We had a pretty unanimous response,” said Dean of Students Jody Asbury. “We got to a place where we had a very good consensus.”

“What I appreciated the most was that he has a fresh approach,” said Wolfe about the new Associate Dean. “I really respect that he’s honest, he’s a straight-shooter. He’s not going to misrepresent himself at any point and he’s not going to turn around and make up a different story the next day.”

Uzilov can be reached at auzilov@campustimes.org.



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