Adam Lawrence was able to get a full-year test drive of what he was getting into before he was appointed as the new dean of students at the Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford campus last Friday. It was the experience as the acting dean of students at the Waterloo campus during the 2012-13 year that made him want to take the leap to a larger role within student advocacy.
“You’re advocating for students in the classroom [and] you’re looking to make change with faculty members,” Lawrence said about his term as acting dean at Laurier Waterloo.
“I fell in love that — and it was awesome.”
Lawrence is currently the manager of the diversity and equity office at Laurier Waterloo and was the acting dean of students while the current dean, Leanne Holland-Brown, was on maternity leave. Becca Caroll, the previous dean of students at the Brantrford campus, left earlier in the summer to move to Ottawa.
No replacement has been announced yet for Lawrence at the diversity and equity office.
“When I heard that Becca Carroll was stepping down as the dean of the students, I started to ask some questions and meet with people on the Brantford campus,” continued Lawrence, who will start at Brantford on July 15. “It seemed like a perfect fit.”
Lawrence’s approach to his new position at Brantford isn’t going to be about making swift changes, he said. He wants to take the time to learn about the different processes of the Brantford campus and how students operate there.
“I have lots of ideas, and I’m sure the people who are working right in the heart of the student experience [at Brantford] have ideas as well,” he said.
Recalling advice that David McMurray, the vice-president of student affairs at Laurier, gave him when he started at the diversity and equity office in 2007, Lawrence said that he’s going to “spend a couple of months listening to the people around him.”
“Laurier Brantford also works in a different way and until I know the ins and outs and how people work together — and the leadership style there — I don’t want to go in and change too much. I’m just going to go in and learn and listen,” he explained.
“Change it inevitable in any organization, but there’s always this uncertainty that people have when someone new is coming in,” he added. “[But] I think we can bring everyone together and that change can be a more team-orientated approach to change.”
Laurier is in a peculiar situation where it’s governing both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses through an extensive multi-campus plan, with the potential of adding a third in Milton if it receives approval from the province. Lawrence wants to continue this multi-campus approach in Brantford.
“The student experience is different on both campuses, but there’s always ways staff at Laurier Brantford and Waterloo can share ideas, share support,” he said.
Admitting that it has been tough to let go at the diversity and equity office, Lawrence noted that he is going to miss the students and staff that he has worked with the most as a manager.
“I love the diversity and equity office. It’s my passion,” said Lawrence. “It’s going to be the thing I’ll miss the most — the students and the staff.”