Former Dean of Students Jody Asbury stepped down on Oct. 26 to take medical leave for a planned surgery. Former Associate Dean of Students Matthew Burns assumed the role of Acting Dean of Students on Oct. 29.

Asbury will not return as a dean but will teach an undergraduate course on leadership next semester and serve the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL), an extension of the Dean of Students office that she helped found.

“RCCL was Dean Asbury’s brainchild; it was a way to consolidate community-based efforts so there is less duplication of efforts,” Burns said.

As dean of students, Asbury sought to enhance student life by expanding initiatives aimed at fostering relations between the University and the city.

Asbury pioneered the Rochester Every Day (RED) program to offer discounts to students at 150 area shops and restaurants. She also led efforts to enhance public transportation to and from campus and placed student volunteers in public service roles through the RCCL.

“Being engaged on campus and off is saying you’re going to make your community bigger and better,” Asbury said.

“There are so many [contributions] Dean Asbury has made,” Dean of the College Richard Feldman said. “One is her efforts to get students off campus and engaged in the city through internships and entertainment.”

The Dean of Students’ Office is broken down into two associate deans of students. One associate dean of students, Anne-Marie Algier, oversees student activities, while the other, handled by Burns, oversees disciplinary affairs. The Dean of Students oversees the associates and the RCCL. As Acting Dean of students, Burns has both roles.

“Since Oct. 29, my biggest challenge is a workload issue, doing the associate dean of students and dean of students jobs at the same time,” Burns said. “There have been several student behavioral concerns that would have kept the dean of students busy this semester. The challenge is just to keep up.”

“The biggest challenge I faced before Oct. 29 as Associate Dean of Students was that when I came to the University there was a perceived lack of trust in the disciplinary system,” he said. “My employers thought I was the right candidate to restore that faith in the system.”

Feldman, who appointed Burns, has convened an eight-member search committee to find a permanent replacement for Asbury. The committee is looking for candidates have experience with student activities. The replacement dean needs to understand the unique dynamics of a college campus and needs to work well with students.

At this time, Burns has not officially applied for the position, but his time as acting dean of students has prepared him for what he can expect if hired permanently.

“He’s been doing a great job,” Feldman said. “There have been a number of difficult issues he has had to deal with already and he has handled them very well. He is very clear-headed, calm, sensible and good to work with.”

“I am fine being associate dean of students and I’ve enjoyed my time. If it’s my time to be dean of students, I’m ready for it and I’d enjoy it,” Burns said. “If this committee finds there is a candidate who better suits the needs of the University, I would have absolutely no problem remaining associate dean of students and working for that person. In either capacity, I would still enjoy working here at the University.”

The search for a new dean of students is still in its early stages. Recently, an advertisement for the position was developed by the search committee. Feldman expects applications to start coming in next month and, hopefully by the early part of next semester, the committee will be able to bring candidates to campus for interviews.

A permanent dean of students is expected to be named next semester and will be in place before the 2008-09 academic year.

Smith is a member of the class of 2009.

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