Southwestern Welcomes New Dean of Students: Shelley Story
On September 1, Southwestern officially welcomed the new Dean of Students, Shelley Story. Dean Story intends on spending a semester to a full year becoming knowlegable of campus culture, its institutions, and its students before introducing any major initiatives.
“In my experience, administrators who do not take this time to get to know their new professional home struggle to connect and often expend energy and enthusiasm in places where it is unappreciated, or even unwelcomed, because it isn’t sensitive to the existing needs of the students and the university,” Story said.
Spending nine academic years as the Chief Student Affairs Officer in Italy, Dean Story brings with her a strong sentiment for embracing life from various perspectives and celebrating the commonalities cultures often have.
“Although it’s been a long-held belief for me, a focus on the human family became a lived experience while I was in Italy and traveling all over Europe,” said Story. “What resonates most for me is the line from Maya Angelou’s poem: ‘we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.’ “
On that note, Dean Story finds herself asking, ‘Who’s being left out of the conversation,’ when schools talk about the need to strengthen inclusivity, as this year’s Student Government Association has.
“I can tell you that I believe the foundation of inclusivity is mutual understanding, and that much behavior that presents as unconcerned, exclusive, or even biased, stems from lack of communication or connection,” said Story. “On a campus the size of Southwestern, we shouldn’t struggle with issues of inclusivity.”
Dean Story comes from a similar undergraduate experience as Southwestern provides, attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She served as a mentor, Resident Assistant, DIII Athlete, and other positions focused on community and meaningful experiences.
“I had strong relationships (several of which endure today) with faculty, coaches, and administrators – something that enriched my life tremendously and that I don’t believe would have been possible to the same degree at a larger university,” said Story. “I felt confident that what every employee at Trinity wanted most was to see me and my peers happy and thriving, and that was just a baseline.”
When asked why students should feel comfortable approaching her with questions, concerns, and recommendations regarding policies, such as Title XI, her response sums up her long-term intentions at Southwestern.
“My intent is to support students and the SU community for the common good. I hope that a year from now, you’d ask instead, “Why shouldn’t students and faculty feel like they can approach you…?” because the story in campus culture will be that I’m here for the good of the university community,” said Story.