Dean of Students
Follow up to Campus Incident Tuesday night
Message from the Dean - October 26, 2017
Dear Muhlenberg students, faculty, and staff,
I am writing to follow up on my communication yesterday and provide additional information about Tuesday evening’s criminal incidents and emergency response. I’d also like to address some questions received about our emergency notification process and about this specific situation.
Investigations by Campus Safety and Allentown Police Department (APD) continue. While suspects have not been apprehended yet, Allentown Police Department believes this to be an isolated incident, meaning that their is a high likelihood that the incident was not random and is unlikely to be replicated in another location on campus in the same fashion. Nonetheless, we are taking additional precautions, including an increase in—and higher visibility of—officer patrols on and around campus as well as the activation of additional security cameras. In addition, the College will provide campus escorts to community members as needed.
Some have asked about how the text alert system works and its ability to update people outside of the immediate campus community. The text alert system utilized by Muhlenberg prioritizes responses that address immediate threats to our campus community. As such, messages to students, faculty and staff are delivered first, and additional information is distributed as it becomes available and the immediate threat level is reduced. These instructions are delivered in brief via text messages and are followed by more detailed email communication.
We issue alerts to the community as soon as possible when a report is delivered to Campus Safety. These messages are intended to deliver essential information promptly (in this case, "shelter in place"). On Tuesday night, the emergency alerts were delivered to our community members within minutes of communication of the incident to Campus Safety. Periodic updates were provided in text alert and email as additional descriptive information became available as well. These additional communications included general location as soon as it was reported and suspect descriptive information as soon as statements from involved parties were taken.
One question that has been raised is "Was there a delay between when some students became aware of the situation and when a text alert went out?" One important message I wish to share with all of you is that in an emergency, your first call for help NEEDS to be directly to first responders. This is accessed by dialing 911 or calling Campus Safety. I encourage you to put Campus Safety's number (484-664-3110) in your phone. Additionally, we are all aware that in this age of electronic communication and social media, it is very common that real time information is shared with family, peers, phone contacts or social media contacts very quickly and only sometimes in tandem with formal calls for help...this sometimes creates a perception of delay. That said, I will reiterate that a text alert was issued within several minutes of a report to Campus Safety.
Another concern that has come forward is that community members and various publication have raised questions and shared assumptions about the motivation for this incident or contextual details surrounding it that have not been confirmed by the college or Allentown Police. I would caution everyone that this is still under investigation, and to make those types of connections based on second or third hand information or based on personal, private communications with friends is premature. This was an incredibly tenuous situation for those involved and I encourage all of us to refrain as much as possible from making broad generalizations that could be hurtful within our community. We will share additional information as it becomes available and is appropriate to share with sensitivity to community members' need to know and community members' right to privacy.
Finally, as mentioned in my earlier email, we encourage members of our community to take advantage of available college services. If you experiencing significant distress as a result of this situation, I encourage you to reach out to your residence advisor or Counseling Services for support. I also encourage you to share any relevant information about this incident with Campus Safety via our incident reporting form: https://www.muhlenberg.edu/webapps/incidentreporting/
If you have additional more specific questions, please reach out to the Dean of Students Office. We will do our best to prioritize those inquiries and respond as soon as we are able.
Thank you and take good care,
Last night's campus incidents
Message from the Dean - October 25, 2017
Dear Muhlenberg students, faculty and staff,
Last evening two separate incidents necessitated emergency responses and campus notifications via our alert system. While these incidents caused significant disruption to those on campus, we are grateful that no members of our community were physically harmed.
Around 8:00 p.m., Campus Safety received a report of indecent exposure in the vicinity of Chew Street near Egner Memorial Chapel.
The second incident was reported shortly after 9:00 p.m. and involved a report of an armed robbery in the vicinity of Benfer Hall. The second incident qualified as an imminent threat to the wellbeing of our campus community and required a shelter-in-place notice. This notice remained in effect until approximately 11:17 p.m.
The safety of our community is always our foremost concern and a responsibility we take seriously. In addition to our on-duty Campus Safety officers, midnight shift personnel were called in to respond to these incidents and Allentown Police Department (APD) was alerted and quickly dispatched to campus.
Campus Safety and APD conducted an active patrol and sweep of campus to ensure that the suspects were no longer in the vicinity. This comprehensive search included all campus buildings and nearby streets and park systems. Additional details and instructions were sent in all-campus emails to faculty, students and staff after the initial alert was issued.
Students are prompted to register for our campus alert system as part of the June Advising process in advance of their first year on campus. Faculty and staff are reminded to sign up for this system at the beginning of each semester. In the event of an emergency, messages are distributed via SMS/text and email to all registered members of the campus community.
At this point, Allentown Police has determined that this was an isolated incident. If you have information you would like to share about this incident, please feel free to make use of our incident reporting form: https://www.muhlenberg.edu/webapps/incidentreporting/
Take good care,
Important Community Follow-up
Message from the Dean - October 4, 2017
Dear Muhlenberg Students,
Following up on President Williams' message to the community yesterday regarding Janaya Khan's presentation Monday night, I want to echo the condemnation of some of the comments on social media that were at worst, racially biased and inflammatory, and at best, distasteful and disrespectful.
As a college community, we are called to conduct civil discourse and provide for the exchange of ideas, dialog and debate. There is nothing more harmful or unsettling to individuals within a community than accusatory or inflammatory ideas, information or opinions that are shared anonymously or from an unidentified voice. Such anonymous statements provide no opportunity for dialog, intellectual or interpersonal engagement or human understanding. Accordingly, I encourage all of you to use your voices, own your voices, and listen to the voices of others. Each of you matter. Your experiences and perspectives matter. And we must collectively engage for the betterment of our Muhlenberg community and beyond.
I want to thank the many students, faculty and staff who came to Standing in Solidarity today to be in community with one another and to support all members of our community hurt by the social media comments, the posting of anonymous flyers, the horrific news from Las Vegas, the painful work of recovery and grieving of loss and destruction in Puerto Rico, Texas and in all other areas of the world.
We are looking into the posting of the flyers yesterday as fully as we would in any situation. If you have information you would like to share related to this or if you become aware of or are the victim of any acts of hate or bias in our community, please make an appointment with my office by emailing me, calling our office at 484-664-3182, calling Campus Safety or completing a Hate/Bias incident form at http://www.muhlenberg.edu/webapps/incidentreporting/
As in all cases, if and when violations of the law and/or policy are determined, the College will take all measures to resolve those cases fairly and judiciously.
Fall break is upon us and rest assured, in the days that follow break, the dialog will continue on campus. In the meantime, I hope each of you find a few moments of rest and respite. One important message I took away from Janaya Khan's presentation Monday evening that is universally applicable is the need for each of us to immerse ourselves in communities of care. Find your squad, know your network and then, beyond the important work of self-care, rely on these groups in difficult and trying times and find strength and love in those around you. Then, so fortified, muster the courage and resolve to reach out to others and find common cause with them as well. Let's not lose sight of what brings us together as a community.
Please take good care,
Important information: DACA Support and Hurricane Relief
Message from the Dean - September 6, 2017
Dear Muhlenberg Students,
In the full message below, you will find information related to two important topics:
- College resources related to support for students related to the DACA program. http://muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/deanst/studentaffairsnews/
- Support information for students and families impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and information related to contributing to hurricane relief efforts. http://muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/deanst/studentaffairsnews/
While I encourage you to read the full message, these links are provided for referral purposes.
One thing that I have been reflecting on quite a bit in the last couple days is the concept of "home". As I consider the news related to the DACA program yesterday and as I hear and see information related to the multiple hurricanes and other natural disasters that are harming many communities across the world and within the United States right now, I am deeply distressed, saddened and seek to act in support. We come from many different homes, from many different corners of the globe; however, as members of the Muhlenberg community, our hope is that this place is a second home to all of our students during their time in college.
So some people often wonder, "What is my job as the Dean of Students in all of this?" Pertinent to this moment, I will share that one of my most important roles is to ensure this is a place we can all call home and that it is a place in which you have access to resources and community support when hardship and adversity present themselves...and that is likely to happen to all of us at one time or another. In fact, in my opinion, there are two realities we all have in common...we will all face adversity and hardship at various times in our life AND communities of people can always find ways to create hope for themselves and others. In the darkest of times throughout history, both have existed and persisted. With that said, I want to offer some specific comments about the two topics at the forefront of my brain and heart this week. These include specific actions and resources related to DACA and hurricane relief and preparation related to hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
First, as a follow up to the email you received yesterday from President Williams in response to the DACA program, I want to point you to the following newly created informational webpage http://muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/deanst/services/dacainformation/
This site will provide you with some of the specifics about the types of support resources the college has been and continues to make available to its students. I also want to lend my wholehearted support to the President's message and my commitment to supporting all of our Dreamer students.
Next, there are few words to convey the incredible devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. In addition, as we look at the days ahead, Hurricane Irma is making landfall and parts of the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Florida and others find themselves in the path of the storm. My deepest sympathy goes out to all who are dealing with the impact of this current disaster, including those in our Muhlenberg community who have loved ones, homes and any other connections in the affected regions. For those of you who are from or have family and friends from any of the locations in the eye of this new storm, our thoughts and prayers are with you as we brace for its impact.
For students who have direct connections to these areas: Should you need anything related to the impact of these hurricanes, please do not hesitate to reach out to me personally and my staff. We will connect you to the necessary resources and support on campus.
In addition, for those of you who are watching and reading about the death, destruction and personal struggle of people in these cities and countries, I fully understand and applaud the urge to act. As you may have seen in the news, what is needed most right now is funding. There are many worthy organizations that can translate your donation into locally-based solutions and assistance. We encourage students interested in fundraising efforts to connect with the Office of Community Engagement so that we may assist and connect you with other interested students and student organizations. A few organizations to consider for donations are:
St. Bernard Project- a Muhlenberg community partner organization that works in disaster response particularly related to housing: http://sbpusa.org/where-we-help/harvey-recovery
A fund to support College students affected: www.GoFundMe.com/HarveyHELPStudents
The Houston Food Bank: http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/get-involved/harvey-disaster-relief/
Lutheran Disaster Response- http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/US-Hurricane-Relief
Finally, I would like to share the following announcement from the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) regarding a temporary enrollment program to support students affected by the recent floods in Texas and Louisiana. This is one way that Muhlenberg is providing assistance to our neighbors along the Gulf Coast right now.
To say these are tough times is an understatement. To say that our community of people has the opportunity and ability to create light and hope in dark times is also an understatement. With that said, I challenge all of you to find ways to be the light for others right now and always.
Exciting Changes and New Hires in Muhlenberg Student Affairs
As we approach the middle of summer (yikes!), I am thrilled to introduce you to a number of new names and faces in the Division of Student Affairs. Some started in the past few weeks, while others will be joining us in the near future. We are excited to have a full team in the division ready to support our students in all aspects of their campus life experience!
Ann Marie Stevens, Director of Prevention Education
Ann Marie has been at Muhlenberg College as a counselor in the Counseling Center since 2007. In that role, she provided clinical support to students and emergency on call crisis response. Prior to joining Muhlenberg, Ann Marie worked as a therapist in both private and community settings and also served as the Principal/Director for two years at Twilight Academy in Lawrence, MA. She has her B.A. in Journalism and Sociology from University of Massachusetts Amherst and her M.Ed. in Administration from Cambridge College. She is also a licensed social worker. Please congratulate Ann Marie on this exciting new opportunity and promotion.
Ann Marie will be filling a new position in the Division, funded in large part by Muhlenberg’s Student Government Association to support prevention education for students regarding issues of alcohol and other drugs, mental health and gender-based violence.
Kate Shelley, Associate Director of Residential Services
Kate is a long-time staff member at the College, previously serving as the Assistant Director for Residential Services and as a Residential Coordinator. She graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in History. During her time at Muhlenberg, Kate has worked with all aspects of our residential system including community building, facilities and operations, and student staff supervision and crisis response.
Kate will be moving into the Associate Director position that was recently vacated by Aaron Bova. Congratulations to Kate on this promotion!
Courtney Stephens, Assistant Dean of Students & Director of Residential Life
Courtney joined the Muhlenberg family on July 1, 2017. She has eight years of experience in Residential Life, most recently as the Associate Director of Residence Life at Lehigh University. She has also held prior roles as the Assistant Director of the Residential Center and Residence Director at Bentley University. In all of her roles, Courtney worked extensively to create goals and identify strengths and weaknesses to enhance students' residential experiences. During her tenure at Lehigh University, Courtney helped strengthen and expand themed housing and faculty inclusion within the Office of Residence Life. She holds a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan and a B.S. degree in Human Services and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. She has presented at several local and national conferences, was recently awarded the Lehigh University Dean of Students Spirit Award in May 2016 and received the Bentley University Student Supervisor of the Year Award in March 2015. We are excited to have Courtney’s energy and enthusiasm as part of our Muhlenberg community!
Courtney will be filling the role previously held by Jan Schumacher, who is now officially serving as the Associate Dean of Students for Student Engagement.
Nnanna Anosike, Residence Coordinator
Nnanna Anosike will be joining the Office of Residential Services as a Residence Coordinator effective July 17. Nnanna’s approachable personality and focus on student-centered success and learning was quickly evident through interactions with campus partners and Muhlenberg students. He is coming to us from Lincoln University, where he served as a Residence Hall Coordinator and taught as a first-year experience instructor. While at Lincoln, he earned his M.A. of Human Services Administration. Nnanna also holds a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo.
Nnanna will be filling the vacancy created by Kate Shelley’s promotion. Please join us in welcoming him into the Muhlenberg community!
Steve Dutton, Associate Director of Student Engagement, Clubs, Organizations, Fraternities and Sororities
Steve Dutton joins the Muhlenberg campus community after having worked at several other institutions and the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity Foundation. Most recently, he served as the Associate Director for Orientation at James Madison University. Steve also has previous experience working with areas such as advancement and fundraising, first year experience and leadership programs.
In his role at Muhlenberg, Steve will assist with Orientation and support the Orientation student staff, oversee all clubs and organizations and fraternity and sorority life, and co-advise the Student Government Association. Please welcome Steve to Muhlenberg!
Ellen Lentine, Associate Director of Student Engagement, Student Activities and Events
Ellen Lentine is returning to Pennsylvania after working at the University of Tampa since 2014 as the Coordinator of Student Engagement. She brings with her experience and skills related to student activity and event planning, working with college programming boards, budgeting, and assessment. She seeks ways to ensure students are involved in the decision making process for activities and empowers them to pursue their own ideas.
Ellen completed her B.A. in Communication Studies at West Chester University and her M.Ed. in College Student Affairs at Rutgers University. Welcome to Muhlenberg, Ellen!
Pracheta Trivedi, Interim Counselor
Pracheta will join the Muhlenberg Counseling Services team as a full-time Counselor after working in both the public and private sector for the past eight years. After completing both her B.S. in Elementary Education and her M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology at Temple University, she went on to work as a clinical counselor for four years, followed by beginning her own private practice locally. She also served as a part-time counselor at Lafayette College last year. In addition to her work as a licensed therapist, Pracheta has also served as a Social Media Strategist and brings with her a number of new ideas about how to outreach to and support today’s college students.
She will be filling the Counselor role that was vacated by Ann Marie Stevens, and she will begin at Muhlenberg on August 1. Welcome Pracheta!
Lily Otu, Assistant Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Development, Diversity and Inclusion
Lily Otu comes to Muhlenberg after five years as an administrator in the athletic department of her alma mater, Mount St. Mary's University. In her role as director of compliance and student-athlete development at the Mount, she organized all student-athlete leadership programming, community service activities, career workshops and career advising, and collaborated with other offices on campus to ensure that student-athletes received a holistic educational experience. She was a member of the Mount Inclusion and Excellence Committee, facilitated campus-wide initiatives including cultural workshops and programs to enhance the understanding of the diversity of the campus, societal and global community. Lily was also a standout track performer at Mount St. Mary's, earning All-Northeast Conference honors as a sprinter five times in her career. She is a two-time graduate of Mount St. Mary's, earning a bachelor's degree in sport management and her M.B.A.
Lily will be serving in the role that was previously held by Dawud Abdur-Rahkman, though it has been reconfigured to focus full time or educational initiatives within Athletics and in partnership with the larger Muhlenberg community. Lily began her role at Muhlenberg on July 17. Welcome Lily!
Brynn Dorsey named Executive Director for Health and Counseling Services at Muhlenberg College; Major Partnership Announced to Integrate Health and Counseling Services
Brynn Dorsey has been promoted to Executive Director of Health and Counseling Services at Muhlenberg College. Dorsey has spent the last 12 years as the Director of Health Services. In her new role, Dorsey will continue to lead patient care and services in the College's Health Center and also provide strategic and administrative leadership to the College's Counseling Center.
"Brynn is a dedicated, student-centered and incredibly caring health professional," says Allison Gulati, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Muhlenberg College. "She has proven to be an excellent manager and we expect her to lead our efforts in the health, mental and behavioral health and counseling areas."
Dorsey came to Muhlenberg in 2005, after working as an R.N. at New York University and Duke University Medical Centers. She also worked as a Nurse Practitioner at the University of Pennsylvania.
The College is currently undergoing a search for a director of its Counseling Center. A committee of faculty, staff and students will be part of the process, which will be spearheaded by Dorsey.
In addition to naming Dorsey to this position, Gulati also announced that the College has entered into a major partnership with Keeling and Associates, a national consulting firm with robust higher education experience in health, mental and behavior health, counseling and wellness programs.
As part of this new partnership, a campus-based Health and Wellness Advisory Group including faculty, staff, students, and alumni practitioners will be convened. This committee will be charged with working directly with Keeling and Associates to develop a strategic implementation plan for integrating health and counseling services over the next year. They will also be deeply involved in the search for the new Director of Counseling Services. Most importantly, this group will lead the college in conceiving of integrated learning experiences that connect the curricular and co-curricular and provide experiential learning opportunities related to health and wellness for our students on campus.
According to Gulati, “The health and well-being of students is absolutely critical to their academic and personal success. As such, students are at the heart of these steps forward. Furthermore, we have incredibly talented staff and faculty and exemplar academic programs that can bolster our effort in this area. Collectively, we will work hard to meet the needs of students in innovative ways.”
DOSA Restructuring Campus-wide
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I am excited to share with you all some initial changes in staffing and structure within the Division of Student Affairs. As many of you, I have spent the first 8 months at Muhlenberg learning as much as I can about what makes this such a special place, the ways in which we support powerful student learning already and to understand from students, faculty, and staff all of the areas they hope to see the Division of Student Affairs grow and develop in the coming years.
As such, we have launched an approximately six-month strategic planning process, entrenched deeply in an Appreciative Inquiry model of planning. This framework will allow us to carry forward the most positive core aspects of the current Division of Student Affairs, while also building on those strengths and values and connecting more fully to the broader academic mission and strategic goals of the College in new ways.
While we are still in the early stages of our planning process, we have made some initial structural changes in the Division that I hope will help us to better accomplish our goals and meet student needs. This is part one of a three-part process toward the development of a comprehensive new divisional structure and set of learning outcomes and strategic goals that will guide our work over the next few years. Below are some of the more immediate important structural changes, comings and goings:
Lee Kolbe will now serve as the Associate Dean of Students and Director of Prevention Initiatives. As many know, Lee had intended to retire last summer and we were able to convince her to give the College 10 more months of service while I was getting settled. She graciously agreed to do so, and continues to lead our Title IX area brilliantly. She has the confidence and trust of faculty, students, and staff broadly, and she has actively contributed to making Muhlenberg a safer and more welcoming place with regard to gender-based differences, violence, and overall equity. I am thrilled to let you all know Lee has agreed to stay on a bit longer to help us launch our Prevention Education efforts.
New position – Director of Prevention Education – I am excited to announce that this is a new position in the Division of Student Affairs. This role will help the College identify evidenced-based prevention strategies and will oversee a host of training opportunities for students to engage in around alcohol and other drugs, mental health, gender-based violence, and other health-related topics. This work will be done specifically in a way that is inclusive of different identities and cultural backgrounds and their many intersections. While this position was deeply needed, the College was not in a position to provide initial funding for this role. I want to recognize the Student Government Association for unanimously voting to support the use of some of its funding to allow us to launch this position immediately and for seeing the importance of this work to support our student community.
Jan Schumacher will now serve as Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Engagement – Jan has been at Muhlenberg for a number of years as the Director of Residential Services. In her new role, she will transition away from that area and will instead oversee the content of and planning and implementation for a newly revised Orientation program among other things. She will also co-direct a revised version of the Fitness and Wellness course with a faculty member and will work across DOSA to assist us in strengthening our work in this critical area.
Director of Orientation, Leadership and Greek Life – this position is being restructured into two separate positions to assist us with engagement efforts across the Division. I shared with the Division last week that Tara Leigh Sands, who has served as an interim in this role this year, will be leaving Muhlenberg at the end of the semester. I want to thank her for her service and her tireless efforts this year to bring stability to our fraternity and sorority community and to helping us carry out our Orientation efforts. Her full announcement is at the bottom of this memo.
- Associate Director for Student Engagement for Student Activities and Events – This role will work with Jan and will support all student activities big and small that contribute to a vibrant and engaging social life for students. This role will also be responsible for planning many of the signature events of the College including social events for Orientation, Homecoming, Senior Week, Family Weekend, etc.
- Associate Director for Student Engagement for Clubs and Organizations and Fraternity and Sorority Life – This role will work with Jan to advise all recognized clubs and organizations, co-advise SGA, and oversee all aspects of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Jane Schubert will continue to serve as the Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct although the role has been restructured and clarified. Jane will continue to serve as the primary conduct officer of the College. She will also serve as the chairperson of the Behavioral Intervention Team (which will become a more robust and transparent process over the next year), and she will begin to formally supervise the Residential Services unit of the Division.
Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Services – With Jan’s shift in responsibility, the Chief Housing position has been reconfigured to oversee all aspects of Residential Services, serve as an Assistant Conduct Officer for the College, and assist with the development and implementation of a plan for use of Restorative Practices across our community.
Other notable immediate changes:
- Brenda Lakis has been promoted to serve as the Associate Director of Campus Safety. While at the College, Brenda has served as an officer, a shift supervisor, and most recently as Captain within the department. In this new role, she will oversee all of Muhlenberg’s Life Safety functions, as well as transportation. She will also take the lead in Campus Safety to develop and implement a strong shift in practice toward a more robust community policing philosophy that places relationships and prevention at the forefront of our campus safety efforts.
Kate Shelley has been promoted to serve as the Associate Director of Residential Services, Housing Operations.
Many changes are underway in Counseling Services, including the hiring of a new Director for that area. In addition, the effort of two of our counselors in Counseling Services is increasing to 10 months, and beginning next year, the Director of Counseling Services position will be a 12 month appointment.
This summer, Health Services is piloting being open 12 hours per week throughout the summer to meet the acute health needs of our enrolled undergraduates.