Inaugural Dean of Students Outlines Her Plan to Help Terps Navigating Challenges
Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle
For years, Andrea Goodwin helped students who experienced sexual assault reclaim their lives through new housing, counseling services and extended academic deadlines. Empathetic and comforting, with almost an encyclopedic knowledge of campus resources, she supported students so well as the University of Maryland’s director of student conduct and deputy Title IX coordinator that she soon became the go-to person for Terps wrestling with family crises, illness or other difficulties, all referred to her through word of mouth.
As her unofficial roles continued to expand, she and Patty Perillo, vice president for student affairs, decided to create a new position and office to formalize them. Now, as UMD’s inaugural assistant vice president and dean of students, Goodwin is excited to put together a team to assist students as they manage mental health challenges, unexpected financial burdens or academic stresses. She shares her goals for the new office, what she’s learned during her long tenure at UMD and what she finds most rewarding about her work.
Why does the university need this new position and office?
We are such a large, decentralized university. Students don’t always know where to turn when they need extra support, so we wanted to create a one-stop shop where any student who had any issue could get the resources they needed. We have many students who are suffering from depression, anxiety and stress; they’re dealing with food insecurity, housing insecurity or other financial stress; or they’ve been ill or suffered the loss of a loved one because of the pandemic.
In recent years, we’ve also seen an increasing need for creating a sense of belonging for students. The Counseling Center director said the No. 1 reason they see students is loneliness. We really need to work together with other departments in the Division of Student Affairs, academic units and student organizations to try to engage students in activities.
What are your goals?
I want to create our program based on what the students’ needs and wants are. Initially, I want to meet with students and student leaders, as well as faculty and staff, to see how we can build upon the services we already have, and then add what’s missing.
Working closely with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I also want to focus on supporting students of color, particularly BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] students, who have suffered a lot not only on campus, but nationally. They have shared over the years that they don’t always feel that the university cares about them. I know we care—but we need to do more to show them, based on our actions, not words.
Which areas will you oversee?
I’m the chair of the Behavioral Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) Team, the departments of Student Conduct and Parent and Family Affairs, and manage the Student Crisis Fund.
The BETA Team ensures that if a student is a threat to themselves or others that we get them to the right places, whether that’s the hospital, emergency psychiatric care or to the police. With Student Conduct, we see a lot of students who may be facing disciplinary action, suspension or expulsion, so we want to help them by making referrals to Undergraduate Student Legal Aid Office, to the Counseling Center, or just sitting and listening to students. Our Office of Parent and Family Affairs does an amazing job, and we want to broaden and strengthen those relationships so we can better integrate them into student support. The Student Crisis Fund has been so important during the pandemic, giving emergency grants to students who need help paying for housing, food and other basic necessities, and continues to help our students in need.
You served for 10 years as the director of student conduct. What did you learn from that role?
A lot of people think of student conduct as punishment, but for me, it was all about helping students to make better decisions. I served as sort of an ethics coach for them, ensuring that they got an opportunity to explore their own values and decision-making.
What I learned is if students’ basic needs are not being met, they cannot be successful academically. A lot of times, students make mistakes or they suffer academically because there are other issues going on in their lives: financial issues, emotional issues, family issues. We want them to leave the university with all the tools they need to be successful in their career but also as a person.
You’ve worked at UMD for 27 years—why have you dedicated your career to supporting students here?
I’ve stayed at the university because I love students. I have a son who is senior now. He’s had a really good experience, but I want that experience for all of our students. The most rewarding thing is working with students and helping them through a difficult situation and seeing them thrive. In some ways, I feel like they are all my children.
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