Debbie Southern, the Interim Dean of Students, will officially take over Dean of Students Xavier Romano’s position as of June 2 and Romano has officially resigned, effective June 1, said an e-mail sent out by Knox College President Roger Taylor.
The e-mail continued, stating that Romano would remain on leave until then, “dealing with issues relating to his father’s health and exploring his life post-Knox.” Southern will report directly to Dean of the College Larry Breitborde.
When asked whether it was expected, Taylor said, “We’ve been discussing this and this morning Breitborde met with the Office of Student [Development]” to announce it. The president said that he did not foresee any major changes and that, “Dean Southern is now the Dean of Students with the full authority of the office. She will be working with Breitborde and me to address current issues to address changes in the department. She has asked that Vicky Sibley come out of retirement for commencement,” since Jimmy Stewart, who was the Assistant director of campus life, has left.
“It’s a big job. I’m excited, overwhelmed, happy. We have a good staff here,” said Southern about her new position.
There will be many issues facing the new dean of students.
“She [Southern] will continue to work with students and faculty and me dealing with the sexual assault issues of the past couple of months. Tomorrow Dean Southern and myself will be meeting with Professor [of Dance] Jen Smith to put final touches on the new grievance procedures,” said Taylor.
Romano has been at Knox College for approximately 12 years. Discussing why there was not going to be a wide search for a new dean, Taylor said, “She [Southern] is the new Xavier — it would not be constructive to do a search for a new Dean of Students when the president is only here for another one and a half years.”
As for the change in who the dean is directly answerable to, Taylor stated that it had been Southern’s idea. “Dean Southern and Dean Breitborde had worked together on student issues in the past, and student development is part of the entire educational experience.”
Southern also spoke about the change in who the Dean of Students reports to.
“Xavier was a vice president, and I’m not a vice president; I’m a Dean of Students. I’m comfortable reporting to Larry [Breitborde]. I think it’s appropriate for a vice president to report to the president, a dean to Larry. It won’t negatively affect my ability to work with the president.”
Both Taylor and Southern gave assurances that Flunk Day would be happening this year as scheduled.