Holland Brown hired as new dean of students

It was announced on Aug. 25 that Leanne Holland Brown, the manager of the Student Leadership Center (SLC) at Wilfrid Laurier University, will be the university’s newly appointed dean of students.

Holland Brown enters the position held since 1997 by David “Daddy Mac” McMurray, who became the university’s vice president of student affairs last May and now oversees the dean of students positions at the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Holland Brown was a residence life area co-ordinator at Laurier, holds a masters degree in leadership and has managed the SLC since 2007.

The position of VP of student affairs was created in May, reorganizing the dean of students department and creating a specific dean of students for the first time at Laurier Brantford, a position that has yet to be filled.

As of press time, no candidate for Brantford’s dean of students had been hired for the position, though McMurray said it was down to three individuals and projected an announcement soon.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get the best person and if timing suffers because of that we just have to manage that as best we can,” he said.

McMurray pointed out the importance of introducing a new dean of students in time for first-year arrivals and having her present during O-Week.

For first-years, and all students, “She will be, as I was, their prime contact,” he said. “We want students to feel very comfortable about coming to this office.”

“My ultimate goal is to develop the strongest structure for student affairs and support in Canada if not the world,” McMurray explained, emphasizing the tradition of highly visible and active deans of students over Laurier’s history. “We not only want to preserve, protect, nurture and cherish that role, we want to expand it to the highest level.”

“A transition like this doesn’t happen overnight,” Holland Brown said, noting that it will take time to transition into the role and bring forward her vision for what she hopes to accomplish.

“Any good leader always starts by getting a good sense of the culture and the needs and just the hopes and desires of the population, the community you are a part of.”

Changes in the post-secondary education environment are reflected in the position of dean of students according to Holland Brown. “It’s a new time and era in education and as such the dean of students role is different, which I think is a really exciting and important thing,” she said. According to McMurray, his new role takes over the administrative and management responsibilities so the dean of students is unencumbered by more administrative matters.

“For me I really want to be proactive in communicating the support and advocacy that I can provide for students,” she continued, emphasizing student experience and involvement outside the classroom as increasingly important contributors to students’ education.

Integrating student experience within the confines of and beyond the classroom will be a primary focus she said. “We want you to graduate as good people, and I know it sounds a bit idealistic, but to have some life and leadership skills allowing you to be a well-rounded person.”