This summer, the University welcomed two new deans into its administration. Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources Laura Patey worked previously as Director of Access Services for Students with Disabilities at Lesley College, and Dean for the Class of 2015 Jennifer Wood is coming to Wesleyan from Quinnipiac University, where she worked as a Learning Specialist. Wood previously held positions at Yale, Skidmore, and Harvard.
Dean for Academic Advancement and the Class of 2017 Louise Brown believes that Patey and Wood are acclimating well to Wesleyan’s culture. The two deans have already been reaching out to students.
“They’re already fabulously well acclimated,” Brown said. “Dean Patey has been in communication with lots of students already, particularly ones who are inquiring about students with disabilities and reasonable accommodations. She also supervises the peer advisors and has been training with them in preparation for them to be working with the freshman students. [She works with both] the NSO [New Student Orientation] advisors and the five-year-long peer advisors.”
In her role in Student Academic Resources, Dean Patey will work with students from all backgrounds.
“She’s devised a great training program,” Brown said. “She brings ideas and experiences from her long involvement in academic skills and strategizing. She really also brings broad and deep experience in disability services in terms of our legal expertise as well as providing reasonable accommodations.”
Dean Wood made the transition from Yale and Skidmore to the University this summer.
“Yale students… want to do the absolute best they can do, and that’s really what’s motivating them,” Wood said. “Whereas I think Wesleyan students are more critical and analytical about things. The story I like to tell is that if you tell Yale students to jump, they’ll get the biggest trampoline they can find, but Wesleyan students are going to wonder why you’re asking them to jump in the first place, and what are the sociopolitical ramifications of jumping?”
In 2010, Dean Wood taught at the University as a visiting professor in the African American Studies Department. She looks forward to returning for the new semester.
“I was here really briefly in the fall of 2010 [when] I taught a course on Toni Morrison,” Wood said. “I was in Saratoga Springs at the same time, so my commute was basically that I drove seven hours to teach for three, and the students made it worthwhile. It was an amazing experience despite the commute.”
Last semester, the class of 2015 was split up between the three class deans after former Dean of the Class of 2015 Noel Garrett left halfway through the year. Wood hopes to reunite the class and facilitate their growth in their last two years of college.
“They’re halfway through their college career, and they’re really going to be digging into their major and focusing on that this year,” Wood said. “I really want to support students as they figure out their passion and help them post-Wesleyan. My predecessor left for the spring term, and so the class was divvied up among the other class deans, who did an amazing job, frankly, of working with the class of 2015. I’m really thrilled for all of us that we get to be together for their last two years.”
Wood expressed her excitement for the coming semester and for her new position in the administration.
“I’ve been looking for this job for a long time,” Wood said. “When I taught here in the fall of 2010 I had written to [Dean Garrett] and said, ‘You have such an amazing job,’ and he said, ‘It’s a very special job indeed,’ and I have that email from him, and I’m reading it now, three years later, sitting at his desk.”
Brown indicated her enthusiasm for the arrival of Deans Patey and Wood.
“I’m so excited for both of them to be here,” Brown said. “They are a great addition to our community and a great addition to student affairs.”