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The Carletonian

New Asst. Dean of Students to work with OIIL and GSC

<ecent addition to the Dean of Students Office, Assistant Dean of Students Sindy Fleming started in her position during July. Her role involves advising the Community Conversations program and overseeing assessment for the office.

Her largest day-to-day task, however, is assisting students either taking leave or returning from leave, whether medical or personal. She also works with students withdrawing from the college and with transfer students.

As she continues to learn about the Carleton processes for leaves, transfers and withdrawals, “I’m looking at the policy and procedures and trying to align them a little better and see if there is any gaps,” said Fleming.

Fleming also acts as the supervisor for OIIL and the GSC. Therefore, she works closely with OIIL’s interim director Brisa Zubia ’05. “I appreciate working with Brisa [Zubia]. Her energy, her always willingness to say yes and make things happen and work,” said Fleming.

“But with that too, we are looking into hiring an international program coordinator, so somebody that will actually work more with international students doing the visas, programming, international orientation time as well. So then, Brisa would focus more on being the director and the bigger picture,” she said.  

Fleming has been working closely with the professional staff at the GSC as well. “I’m amazed with how much they do. So much programming comes out of that little house.”

When thinking about possible changes to the GSC, Fleming highlighted Laura Haave’s many responsibilities as the Director of the Center. “Since Laura got here, a lot more has been added to her role, so I think we can reevaluate it and see what else we can do, what needs to be restructured.”

Fleming, born in Guatemala, moved to California during elementary school. While new to Carleton, Fleming has been a Northfield resident for over a decade. She discovered the town of cows, colleges and contentment while attending a St. Olaf admissions session at her high school.

“We had somebody, an admissions officer or whatever they call it over there, who went over to our high school, and you know they had an informal college visit. So, I just showed up one day and he was talking about this place that was all green: no concrete, no traffic, no smog. And I was like ‘Huh? That sounds fascinating’ and then I learned more about it,” she said.

After this information session, Fleming decided that Minnesota was where she wanted and needed to be. She applied to both Macalester and St. Olaf, but not Carleton. At the time, she does not recall hearing about Carleton. “Strangely enough, I don’t remember Carleton going to my high school,” she said. 

Fleming graduated from St. Olaf with a Spanish K-12 teaching licensure. She first worked as an academic advisor on their campus. Then, she took a break from this position to teach in the school system before returning to St. Olaf for a more few years with the academic advising program. During her time there, she also served as the interim coordinator of the multicultural office.

Fleming decided to cross the river after being intrigued by the unique job description with the Dean of Students Office. “I saw what this position was, that it wasn’t your typical class dean, but it was more focusing on the piece where you can see a trend with the medical leave, and it allowed me to dive into different areas, that’s what I want,” she said.

After two months in the position, Fleming said that the most exciting part of the job is “the fact that I get to meet with students and talk about what are the challenges they are facing here and what are some of the reasons that they are taking a leave and what type of leave, but then also getting to know them more individually as a person. And then, trying to figure out what resources we have here that can individually help them thrive or accommodate their needs.”

According to Fleming, the biggest challenge thus far is parking. “Everywhere you go is like a 15 minutes’ [walk], so it is just a little bit different,” she said. “It’s fine. I get my steps in.”

While she is still learning about campus, Fleming already noticed a few differences between Carleton and St. Olaf. “Maybe it is just me, but people tend to be a little more direct when they speak. And I appreciate it because I would rather know where they are coming from and what they are thinking at that time.”

Additionally, she offered the Hub, the Carleton student online portal, as one example of the procedural and logistical differences between the two colleges. “Some of the systems here are more complicated and have more hoops you need to jump through.”

When not at work, Fleming loves spending time with her three children and running. “I love running. I don’t do much of it now, but I love it,” she said. “I enjoy cooking. Cooking with my middle school girls and their recipes from school that don’t turn out the way they should.”

Whether it is to have a conversation about her most recent kitchen adventure or a question about transfer policy, Fleming said, “my door is always open, so people can just come and if I am available, talk to me. It could be about a leave, it could be about your day, anything. I love interacting with students.”

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