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Education---Academic Dean

Sue

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am the dean of academic achievement and operations at DeVRY Institute of Technology . My areas of responsibility include all the academic services available to students such as registration , tutoring , testing , academic advising , counseling , developmental education , and a new program called the Freshman Year Initiative or FYI that encompasses collaborative learning in the first year of college. What skills are needed? A sense of humor goes a long way! Supervisory skills, advising skills, creativity and a sense of teamwork are skills that are expected in my job. It was also expected that I have teaching experience , higher education administration knowledge, and a strong sense of student services. What was your major? My Bachelor's degree was in psychology . I received my masters in counseling and student personnel and my doctorate in higher education administration with an emphasis in adult education . How did you get started in your career? I was active in clubs through high school and in college. I wanted to go into counseling and advising for college students so while I earned my masters degree, I did lots of internships in student activities, student services, and athletic administration in order to work with many kinds of students. I worked at a large university, a small public college and a small private college so have really enjoyed the diverse campuses. What experience do you need in this job? Teaching in college is helpful since I have instructors in my area. I also think that academic advising and student services experience is helpful in a position that has a strong emphasis in student retention. Describe your "typical" workday: It's atypical -- never the same twice. Meet with students and faculty on issues such as program advising and FYI ideas. Working in teams is as stressful for instructors as it is for students, sometimes in trying to blend ideas and styles. I really have never had the same day occur twice. Planning an improved registration online process has been very time consuming and its implementation this spring will be interesting. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Having to dismiss students for non-attendance or poor performance is the most difficult for me. DeVRY is a private technical college, which means programs are focused and tuition is higher than state schools. Our students have to work hard and have well-established goals before entering. I always want to leave the door open for a return should DeVRY programs meet the students' needs in the future. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Seeing students mature and get excited about all they are learning. When a student receives a job offer that he/she was hoping for is very gratifying because then the hard work really shows fruition. Graduation is probably the best. We have a lot of first generation college graduates so when names are announced, often there are 10-15 family members who cheer and feel they are each crossing the stage as well -- and they are! What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? You have to like working with students, be creative, be prepared to spend lots of time on campus, and with a college such as DeVRY, be prepared for change since technology never sits still.
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