New members of cabinet lead change in DePauw’s student life division

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Alan Hill, VP for Student Academic Life & Dean of Experimental Learning. Previously Dean for Professional Development at Wabash. Photo courtesy of DePauw University.
Alan Hill, VP for Student Academic Life & Dean of Experimental Learning. Previously Dean for Professional Development at Wabash. Photo courtesy of DePauw University.
Alan Hill, VP for Student Academic Life & Dean of Experimental Learning. Previously Dean for Professional Development at Wabash. Photo courtesy of DePauw University.

While new to DePauw’s cabinet this year, Alan Hill and Dave Berque are no strangers to the DePauw community.
Hill, a 1981 graduate of DePauw, was an All-American athlete and DePauw’s first national champion. After graduating, he worked in marketing and took on several roles in DePauw’s administration. Since then, he has worked in student affairs at several other colleges prior to returning to DePauw.

“Hill is a loyal alum of DePauw,” said President Mark McCoy, “I’ve said many times that I now know what it is like to bring LeBron back to Cleveland.”

Hill said McCoy invited him to DePauw to talk about his vision for the school and discuss how Hill could play a role.

“You always sort of keep your eye on your alma mater, make sure it’s going in the right direction,” said Hill. However, according to Hill, he had not planned on returning to work at DePauw.

His conversation with McCoy changed those plans. Hill said “the excitement of hearing [McCoy’s] vision and it being my alma mater” helped him to decide to rejoin DePauw’s administration.

For Hill, his return will be a chance to reconnect with the DePauw community on all levels. “My life’s passion is engaging and working with students,” said Hill.

He explained his approach to his position is student-centered, providing “wonderful outcomes and opportunities.”
Hill has also been connecting with DePauw’s staff, such as his fellow cabinet members. McCoy arranged a retreat to give the cabinet an opportunity to get to know each other and talk about their future plans for DePauw. “It’s about working with people, right?” Hill reflected.

Hill said he has also spent time walking across campus, seeing faculty members he remembered from his past days working at DePauw, as well as going to Marvin’s and “reconnecting to the community as a whole.”

Hill will be filling not only one, but two roles in the cabinet, replacing Christopher Wells as the vice president of student life and Raj Bellani as the dean of experiential learning.

Aside from its new vice president, however, the division of student life has seen another change: this year, it will be called student academic life.

“We did that for a couple of reasons,” said McCoy, mainly because, “it’s that we are above all an academic institution and we want to make certain that every student gets the most life changing education they can get here and that they are given all of the resources they need to succeed.”

The new Associate Vice President of Student Academic Life, Professor Dave Berque, will assist Hill in beginning the new division. Berque has taught computer science at DePauw for more than 20 years and is the current dean of academic life, which gives him “a strong understanding of [DePauw’s] academic program.”

Hill and Berque share the same focus in their positions: like Hill, Berque said he wants to concentrate on the students.

According to Berque, students previously received separate help from the student life and the academic affairs divisions for their different challenges. The new academic life division is “interested in the entirety of the student experience, rather than compartmentalizing it into an academic part and a non-academic part,” said Berque.

He cited how non-academic difficulties can affect academics, and vice versa. “The academic and the non-academic part work together synergistically,” said Berque. Berque and Hill will also lead another change in DePauw’s services to students: the switch to a class dean system.

This system assigns a dean to each academic year, from first years to seniors, who will be “thinking about the issues of each class,” Berque said. The class dean will be the “first point of contact if they need help,” Berque added, an individual specifically trained to assist each class with their unique goals.

Dean of Students, Cara Setchell, will be the dean for the first-year class. Associate Dean of Academic Life Professor, Kelley Hall, will be the dean for the sophomore and junior classes. Finally, for the senior class, Associate Dean of Academic Life Professor, Julianne Miranda.

Hill explained the class dean system will work to meet the expectations of employers, medical schools, and graduate schools, but “also the expectations of the students.”

Hel said the new class dean system was another part of McCoy’s vision that attracted him to joining the cabinet. “I just am excited,” said Hill.