University Names McNeill New ‘Dean of Students’
An administrative reshuffling in the office of Student Affairs has created a new position: Dean of Students, with a new office location to boot.
Assistant Vice-President of Student Affairs Clarence McNeill will assume leadership of what the university hopes to be easy-to-access student services, while maintaining his former position.
What was formerly the commuter/transfer lounge on the first floor of the campus center, Suite 137, will become offices for McNeill and the departments that now fall under his jurisdiction.
He emphasized that the main goal of this “integrated office” was to create an open, visible space where students can come at any time when they need help.
According to Vice-President of Student Affairs Michael Christakis, while many other universities have a Dean of Students position, each office is unique.
“The idea (for our university’s Dean of Students office) was to integrate student advocacy agencies under one umbrella, one administrative body,” Christakis said.
These organizations include five previously established departments: Community Standards, Off-Campus Student Services, Student CARE Services, the Disability Resource Center, and the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence.
The Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence will remain in its current location in Seneca Hall on Indian Quad.
The final organization, Veteran and Military Services, is a new addition being grouped under the “umbrella” of the Dean of Students office. It will seek to help vets and their families with issues pertaining to the GI bill.
The new positions created were all filled with existing university staff members, which Dean McNeill explained was part of an effort to “maximize the talent we already had, and use our limited resources as effectively as we can.”
The Assistant Dean of Students and office secretary are also prior university staff; they are former head of Community Standards Nancy Larricella, and Disability Resource Center secretary Pierre Brown.
A Career in Student Advocacy
Dean McNeill is a soon to be four-time UAlbany alum, having completed an Undergraduate, Graduate, Advanced Studies, and soon, a PhD program.
McNeill’s first job with the university was as an RA during his sophomore year , which he credits with teaching him most of the skills he uses today.
“As an RA, I had to learn many university rules about conduct, and then figure out how to impart this knowledge to my students. I loved getting paid to talk to students.”
After working his way up in the Residential Life department to the position of Quad Director, McNeill took various administrative jobs around campus.
“The only department that I never worked in was Health Services and Counseling,” said McNeill.
Eventually, McNeill was offered the Assistant Vice President position in Student Affairs, where he has been ever since.
VP Christakis had nothing but praise for McNeill’s credentials.
“I’ve known him for around 20 years, and no one is as uniquely qualified as him for this job. He was made for this position.”
McNeill said his goals include teaching self-advocacy, and giving students “the tools they need to represent themselves in both real life and the professional world.”