Fall Winter 07

The Core


Summer in the City

In Fermi’s Footsteps

Seeds of Change


Editor's Note

Vox Populi

Science Beyond Boundaries

Supporting Students as They Are

Summer Stock

Head of the Class

Geeking Out

Goin' West

Go Ask Alumni

Eye on the Quads

Supporting Students As They Are

As the University of Chicago’s new vice president and dean of students, Kimberly Goff-Crews directs a wide array of offices on campus that enrich student life. With 15 years of experience administering academic programs, including her most recent tenure as dean of students at Wellesley College, Goff-Crews is no stranger to encouraging student life in an intellectually rigorous environment. She recently spoke with Michelle Caswell about her plans for supporting students at Chicago..

What about the University of Chicago interested you in working here?
First, I thought the position itself was really interesting. Early in the interview process I had a conversation with Martha Roth, chair of the search committee, that intrigued me. She described how smart the students are here, how vibrant student life is, and how initiatives like building a new dorm will have an impact on campus.

When I came to visit, I thought the search committee members were phenomenal, very engaged with the work of the University as a whole, and with a clear understanding of the needs of the College, and also of the graduate and professional school students. They were also very good at describing what the city of Chicago as a whole has to offer and the University’s place within it.

Soon thereafter, I met some of the students and I found that they are energetic, very committed to their own sense of being good scholars and taking that scholarship to a wider level through community service projects and student activities. They are passionate about their interests and curious. I also love the fact that there is a really good athletic program here, including both varsity and club sports, and I think the focus on creating scholar-athletes is right on.

All of that made me realize that not only does the institution have a great reputation, but it has great people with whom I would love to work.

In your opinion, how important are athletics and student activities at a place like the University of Chicago, where the focus is really on academics?
I think that the goal is to create well-rounded scholars. Promoting scholarship is not just about the mind, but also about the ways in which we can support students as whole people. Athletics, student activities, community service—all the things hat support students outside of the traditional classroom—are really important. I also think that students are very complex, and they come to Chicago wanting to integrate their academic life with their social life. I hope that the work we do supports what is going on in the classroom and complements the development of the mind.

The University of Chicago has been thought of by some as a place of such intellectual intensity that students are challenged to engage in other activities. How will you help students strike a balance of work and fun?
Wellesley had the same motto—where fun comes to die. I think to some extent it’s hard, especially as a college student, to be so focused on academics. The question I have is, “What does it mean to have fun for this particular student body?” and then I focus on supporting the ways in which people like to have fun at Chicago. This year I plan to have a lot of conversations with students to figure out what kinds of concerns they have around this particular issue and others and to make a plan from there.

How do you plan to encourage a sense of community?
The new arts center is going to be one important way in which we can support student engagement with the arts, as well as create community. I think the Logan Center is going to have a profound impact on student life in general. I’m very excited about that.

You mentioned building a new dorm. Do you have any thoughts on the future of the House System?
My goal there is to make sure our housing system is one that engages a wide variety of students. I would like to think strategically about increasing the number of students who live in residence at the University of Chicago.

With so many different offices under your direction, do you have an underlying vision that ties them all together?
We have just begun the process of talking about our philosophy and our commonalities, but I think we are united by a high commitment to service to students and to those who work with students. All of the offices under my direction are committed to supporting students as they are, who they are, and where they are. We pay attention to the fact that there is a difference between College students and graduate and professional students and are committed to understanding communities within the University of Chicago family.