October 29, 2007
Jody Asbury steps down as dean of students
Matt Burns named to interim appointment
Jody Asbury, who as dean of students sought to enhance campus life by expanding initiatives aimed at fostering relations between the University and the city, stepped down October 26 to take medical leave for a planned surgery.
Matthew Burns, an associate dean of students in charge of discipline under Asbury, assumed the role of acting dean of students October 29.
Asbury will not return as dean, but will teach an undergraduate course on leadership next semester and serve the Rochester Center for Community Leadership, an extension of the dean’s office that she helped to found.
Upon being named dean of students in December 2001, Asbury broadened the focus of the position beyond traditional internal relations with students to form a bridge between students at the University and Greater Rochester.
She spearheaded efforts to enhance public transportation to and from campus, pioneered the Rochester Every Day (RED) Program to offer discounts to students at 150 area shops and restaurants, and placed student volunteers in public service roles through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.
“Being engaged on campus and off is saying you’re going to make your community bigger and better,” Asbury says. “When we started opening up, we saw a double-digit increase in positive feelings about student life.”
Dean of the College Richard Feldman, who appointed Burns and has convened an eight-member search committee to find a permanent replacement, characterizes Asbury’s leaving as bittersweet for the University.
“Jody’s been a tremendous advocate for students,” Feldman says. “She’s put her heart into this job in a way that is really impressive and admirable . . . and I don’t mind it being said that we laughed about something almost every time we met. It has been great to work with her.”
Feldman calls Burns “a strong candidate” for the permanent slot. Acknowledging that some students might be intimidated by the former chief student judicial officer, Feldman says he believes that Burns’s even-handedness would eventually win over skeptics.
“He’s clear, he’s thoughtful, he’s level-headed,” Feldman says of Burns. “[He has an] admirable desire to try to balance the well-being of the campus versus the fair treatment of a student who is involved in a particular case.”
Student disciplinarian is not the only hat Burns has worn. His duties as associate dean included student counseling, and identifying and planning interventions for students wrestling with personal crises. Before joining the University six years ago, he spent 12 years working in residential life at the University of Hartford, five of those as director.
“This is an exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to not being typecast anymore as a disciplinarian,” Burns says. “I’ve got some awfully big shoes to fill. Jody is perhaps as irreplaceable a person as one can come across.”
A permanent dean of students is expected to be named next semester and be in place ahead of the 2008-09 academic year.
The search committee, which is headed by Feldman, includes Associate Dean of Students Anne-Marie Algier; Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Monica Miranda Smalls; Dean’s Staff Director Laurel Contomanolis; Director of Minority Student Affairs Norman Burnett; Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Lisa Willis of the University Counseling Center; Associate Professor of Linguistics Jeffrey Runner; and Students’ Association President Alvin Lomibao.