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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

There’s a new dean in town

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There is a new face on campus. And no, I’m not talking about one of the many awkward freshmen who are wandering around aimlessly, trying to grasp the concept that Sayles has an upper level full of meeting rooms, or that the Weitz really is a part of campus, it’s just down a few blocks. It is Carleton’s new Dean of Students, Carolyn Livingston.

When you mention this newest addition to our Student Life staff you must do so carefully; loud exclamations of “I love her! She’s so great!” and “Isn’t she amazing?” are sure to follow any time you speak her name in close proximity to the upperclassmen. These upperclassmen, who got to know her in their time spent together carefully planning and executing both International Student Orientation and New Student Week, have just cause for being so enthusiastic about our new Dean of Students.

For those students who nod along when people talk about the “Dean of Students” yet think to themselves, “What exactly does a Dean of Students do?” The short answer is: everything.

Dean Livingston explains that her office is responsible for co-curricular experiences of student life. She works to ensure that students have what she refers to as “a transformative experience” while they are here at Carleton.

In order to do that, Livingston works with and oversees many offices on campus: the GSC, OIIL, SHAC, and the academic support center, to name just a few. In her role as Dean of Students, Dean Livingston also helps facilitate “inter-group dialogue,” helping “engage students in conversations on critical topics.”

One such critical conversation was one brought up during New Student Week, concerning sexual misconduct and sexual abuse. As a part of her job, Dean Livingston deals with sexual misconduct on campus, and she wants students to know that “there are a lot of avenues to reach out.” But, she also wants students to remember that “it is about students reaching out when they feel comfortable… not a moment before and not a moment after.”

Her first piece of advice to students is to “ask, ask, ask for help”, in both personal and academic struggles. This isn’t just something she just likes to say to students; Dean Livingston knows firsthand how beneficial asking for help is. When she was a college student, she asked for help when she wasn’t sure if she had enough money to return for her undergraduate studies. She found help at her school’s financial aid office and discovered that “asking for help was a way for [her] to stay.”

Realizing that you need help and remembering to ask for it, or knowing whom to ask in the first place, can seem like difficult tasks, and the Dean realizes this.

She says her job is “not just to wait for students to ask for help, but to pick up on those indicators of where students need help.” If you feel that you are struggling, you won’t be left alone to deal with that struggle. She also advises students to ask for help for a friend if they can’t do so for themselves.

Underpinning all Dean Livingston’s advice lie her core beliefs on how to build a successful, welcoming community at Carleton, which include leadership and inclusivity. At Carleton, Dean Livingston wants students to remember that “there is room for discourse. Everybody’s opinion is valued.” She firmly believes that it’s important to include everyone in important conversations, even if their opinions don’t match yours.

After asking for help, Dean Livingston’s main advice to students as they move through their college experience is to appreciate the decision-making process. “You don’t have to know everything right now”- advice I’m sure both seniors and freshmen are relieved to hear. Dean Livingston was an Applied Mathematics major and recalls that she “couldn’t tell [anyone] exactly what [she] was going to do with it,” but knew that it would lead her to “develop certain skills” that help launch her career after graduation.

How did she go from Applied Mathematics to Dean of Students at Carleton? After earning her M.Ed. in Counselor Education and her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, some highlights of her career path include working in the University of Virginia’s admissions office and working as senior associate vice president for campus life and Title IX coordinator for students at Emory University.

A big part of her attraction to this job at Carleton is the people–the students that she gets to interact with every day. Drawn to Carleton because “students here believe they can make a difference-not only in the campus community” but in the world as well, Dean Livingston likes getting to know each and every student she encounters.

“I try to be very thoughtful. Every student, every person has a story,” Livingston said. These are stories she wants to know and connect with. Going beyond the stereotypical ‘Minnesota nice’ greeting of asking “Hi, how are you?” without expecting an honest reply, Dean Livingston asks about your day, your classes, and your activities, ready to listen and give advice where and when she can.

And her advice to those students who feel like they haven’t found a connection yet at Carleton? “Be patient,” says Dean Livingston. “Remember the reason you fell in love with Carleton.” She knows, as I am sure we all do, that you are bound to “find students who share the same passions and interests,” and reminds us that “This is Carleton. This is what you do-you come to develop your passions.”

So, feel free to connect with Dean Livingston. Welcome her to the Carleton community; she is ready to care for and listen to you, and, if you’re lucky, she might take a selfie with you. She respects your dedication to school, your sports, your extra curriculars, and wants to know how she can help you. And, she’ll gladly eat any baked goodies you make at Dacie Moses.

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