Derell DeRamus, Family Orientation Coordinator, sat down with Dr. Thomas Lane, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students to ask the question “What does Student Affairs mean to you?” (Fifth in a series of articles about the Division of Student Affairs at Missouri State.)
What is your official position and what are some of your regular duties and responsibilities?
I am the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students and my role on campus is to help students achieve their personal and academic goals, and also to remove any barriers that might come up towards achieving those goals. I have great staff members that work with me and great programs as well. The areas that report to the Dean of Students are the Office of Student Conduct, Plaster Student Union, Disability Resource Center, Access Technology Center, Office of Student Engagement, New Student and Family Programs, and Event and Meeting Services. I also serve in a more general role, meaning I might see students that have some personal concerns with adjusting to campus life or even having issues with an instructor. It really runs the gambit of what concerns a student might need to discuss with me.
How would you describe Student Affairs to a parent or family member?
In Student Affairs we are really concerned with what takes place outside of the classroom. Students spend a lot of hours outside of the classroom. Our job is to provide opportunities for our students to connect what they are learning inside the classroom outside of the classroom. This can take place through student organization involvement, residence life involvement, or many of the leadership programs we offer. Our vision within student affairs is to serve as champions of student success and everything we do is centered on that idea.
What are the three things you think are most important for student success?
First and foremost is for students to attend classes. You can’t be successful in college if you do not attend class and you are doing yourself a disservice by not attending. Your degree is much more than a piece of paper, it represents the knowledge and experiences gained here at Missouri State and these are all things that you miss out on when you do not attend class. The second would be to get involved. I think there are so many opportunities to apply what you are learning inside the classroom, to develop connections and friendships, and also to develop leadership skills. If it wasn’t for my own student organization involvement I don’t think that I would’ve stayed in college. I believe that being involved really got me motivated to get involved on my campus and to stay and complete my degree. The third would have to be to work hard, to apply yourself. You spend a lot of resources throughout your time in college and I think that students are doing themselves a disservice when they don’t apply themselves.
Why did you decide to go into Student Affairs?
I was involved as a student leader in my undergraduate experience. I went to school at Illinois State University and I was a first generation college student. I had no idea why I was at college. I knew that my parents had saved all their lives for me to go. I never really went to any of my classes and actually ended up on academic probation my freshman year in college. When I returned sophomore year I realized that I was on a pretty thin thread and one day I was sitting in the student union with a friend and saw a sign that asked for folks interested in bringing bands to campus. I love music so I signed up for an interview to be a part of the Entertainment Committee. I had the interview and didn’t get the position, but instead they asked me to be apart of the Student Center Programming Board, which is a lot like our Student Activities Council here. I ended up getting the position and became a campus programmer. My first program was actually a winter beach party and there was about 4 people that attended, it was pitiful. Through this position I realized that I wanted to continue to get involved and I enjoyed working with my fellow students. After graduating I went on to get my masters in Student Affairs. I do believe that my life would be very different if I hadn’t got involved, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have graduated.
What advice do you have for someone interested in going into Student Affairs?
This is a fantastic and very noble profession. No day is ever the same and you must love working with college students. It’s so rewarding watching students come in at one point in their lives and seeing them achieve their goals. It feel great to know that you might have played a small part in their growth and development as young adults.