Just as students are settling into routines on campus after the first few weeks of the semester, the new Dean of Students Leonard Brown is adjusting to his new position in the Office of Student Affairs. As one of the first events of his career at St. Mary’s, Dean Brown was able to participate in New Student Orientation back in August.
“I thought orientation was great,” said Brown. “I know how everyone across campus worked very hard to make sure things were prepared for the start of the year.”
Dean Brown was impressed by the involvement of the Orientation Leaders, stating, “The student staff in particular did an amazing job welcoming our new students to our community. I enjoyed the traditional events and some of the new ideas like the scavenger hunt.”
As part of orientation, new students learn the principles of the St. Mary’s Way, an important aspect of student life here on campus. Already, Dean Brown has felt the strong community and positivity that comes along with it.
“Before I set foot on campus, so many people reached out to me and offered their assistance.” At St. Mary’s, making connections between students and faculty is fundamental; as is making the academic inter-disciplinary connections required of a liberal arts education. Dean Brown values a liberal arts education on a personal level, having received one himself.
“I love the liberal arts,” he says. “What I value the most is the ability to make connections across disciplines where no connection is apparent. Being innovative requires critical thinking and the willingness to problem solve beyond what is easiest. Larger universities are a good fit for some students, but I think the value of a liberal arts education prepares you to create new fields and lead in those fields where no path forward is apparent.”
In addition to the liberal arts aspect of St. Mary’s, we also boast a smaller, more selective community of students. According to Dean Brown, this a great feature.
“At smaller institutions, you can really think about creating systems and environments that benefit students and positively shape student culture,” he said. “Part of that process includes the ability to think about each student as an individual and be flexible in figuring the best way to assist a student.”
Dean Brown also appreciates the tight-knit community that a smaller student body creates. He has also expressed his enthusiasm towards becoming part of the St. Mary’s community.
“The other obvious difference [in a smaller school] is getting to know many more students on a personal basis which is the best part of this work,” he says. Dean Brown plans on continuing that work, telling us, “I hope bring a work ethic and commitment to the students and the College that ensures each student has the opportunity to take advantage of everything St. Mary’s has to offer.”
As the new Dean of Students, Brown is driven to make the long-term future of St. Mary’s as bright as possible. He says, “I have a great team in the division of Student Affairs and we all want to support the institutional goals and aspirations for students to enjoy for years to come.”
If you want to keep up to date with everything new and exciting happening with Dean Brown, you can visit him in his office, or follow him on Twitter: @LeonardBrownDOS and Facebook: SMCMDOS.