Two deans settle in at VCU

Where can I move next semester?

What are the punishments for plagiarism?

How do I get a seat on the student government?

Students can find the answers to these questions, and others, at the offices of two administrators who oversee student needs.

This past summer Reuban B. Rodriguez became the dean of student affairs for the Monroe Park Campus, and Geoffrey H. Young became the associate dean of student affairs for the VCU Medical Center.

“Hopefully,” Rodriguez said, “once I get my foot in as to what the students and the culture are like, then I can integrate some of the ideas I’ve experienced in the past 20 years working in the field.”

Young, whose office is housed in Bear Hall on VCU’s Medical Center campus, said his plans include working closer with the MCV student government, where he is an adviser, and encouraging more interdisciplinary interaction for social events and student service.

“(I want to) continue to learn about all the facets of student affairs at an institution like VCU and to try to come up with ways to enhance (the) overall student experience,” he said.

With both deans coming from different backgrounds – Rodriguez hails from New Orleans, while Young originally lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. – the two identify what attracted them to VCU.

Diversity.

Rodriguez uses the term to refer to the students, the staff, the faculty and the VCU community.

“The integration of the greater Richmond community being an urban institution and really the growth that the campus has experienced…made VCU a very dynamic place to be,” he said.

Young said having the opportunity of working with both graduate and undergraduate students attracted him to VCU, which is a change from his previous work.

“It’s nice to be a part of a large institution that has undergraduate as well as professional and graduate students,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

Rodriguez, whose office is housed in Sitterding House on Floyd Avenue, serves the dual role not only as the dean, but also as the associate vice provost for student affairs and enrollment services.

“Being new,” Rodriguez said, ” I have to first meet a lot of students, which I’ve started to do both individually, and also meeting students from various student organizations, going to events (and) going to speak at VCU 101 classes.”

As associate vice provost, his duties involve various administrative responsibilities that include working with the staffs in housing and residence education, multicultural student affairs and recreational sports. He also serves as an adviser to the Student Government Association on the Monroe Park Campus.

Before coming to VCU, Young said he served primarily as a dean for the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, one of eight schools under the umbrella of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

As the medical school’s assistant dean for student affairs, he worked with graduate students.

“I was responsible for multiple things – career rules, rules and procedures, educational programs educating students about various residences and specialties advocating and providing general counseling,” Young said.

At VCU, Young and Rodriguez will work with such administrators as Henry G. Rhone, the vice provost for student affairs and enrollment services, to provide services for students.

Michael P. Webb, a second-year dental student who serves as treasurer for MCV’s SGA, prepares the budget for the student government. He said Young attends the group’s meetings and is a resource for the officers.

“Overall the school administration and faculty are very helpful,” he said.

Although Rodriguez and Young now specialize in student affairs, they had different starts to their careers.

As an undergraduate at Emory University, Rodriguez said he received a “world class” education as the university grew and added new facilities. The dean said he enjoyed the university setting where he met people interested in learning inside and outside the classroom.

“It really started my career in student affairs,” Rodriguez said. “I was involved in different activities and also was able to receive mentorship from people who were working in professional positions related to what I was doing.”

Unlike Rodriguez, Young earned his bachelor’s degree before he decided to pursue a career in student affairs.

“My background was clinical psychology,” he said.

After graduating from Hampton University with a psychology degree, he earned a doctorate in clinical psychology at Ohio State University in Athens. He first worked as a clinical psychologist and later as the primary on-campus mental-health provider for the New Jersey medical school.

“(I) really enjoyed working with the population of young adults,” Young said.

Rodriguez, a member of the committee that selected Young, said he remains impressed with Young’s efforts.

“He’s very open and available – particularly to students and to other folks as well,” Rodriguez said. “I’m confident that we’ve made the right decision in bringing him here to VCU.”

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