s the Class of 2005 situates into dorms and academic life, Prof. Kent Hubbell ’69, feels that he is in the same position.
“I feel like I’m a freshman in my job — I’m new too,” said Cornell’s new Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students.
Hubbell, who will continue to hold this position as the Nathaniel and Margaret Owings Professor of Architecture, stepped into his new role in July.
He replaces John L. Ford, who resigned in January to take on the position of vice president and dean of campus life at Emory University.
As dean of students, Hubbell will advise organizations such as the Student Assembly and Cornell United Religious Work. He will serve as a liaison for students looking to build new organizations and will be responsible for implementing crisis support.
Hubbell is also involved with the Student Activities Office and programs at Willard Straight Hall. He voices the concerns of students at Board of Trustees meetings, acting as the link between students and the
“I think that the idea of being a faculty member advocating for students
is good for me,” Hubbell said. “One makes choices about one’s career. I
decided to make a contribution doing this and knew that I would enjoy it,
that I could make a difference.”
Hubbell will also oversee the Perkins Prize for Interracial Understanding and Harmony along with the Dean of Students Awards and the Merrill Presidential Scholars.
Colleagues commended Hubbell’s energetic approach towards his new position.
“From my point-of-view, he has hit the ground running,” said Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services. “He has strong administrative experience and has extensive interaction with the students.”
“The atmosphere is very good,” said Tanni Hall ’76, associate dean of students. “He’s very eager to learn how everything works. He’s very interested in making connections with the staff and students.”
Hall served as interim dean while a committee of university officials and students reviewed the candidates from Cornell’s tenured staff.
Hubbell is the former chair of the department of architecture, a position he originally held at the University of Michigan.
Before accepting his newest position, Hubbell was already involved with many aspects of campus life. He maintains a high level of involvement in the North and West Campus Residential Initiatives as chair of the Campus Planning Committee.
During next semester, Hubbell will schedule a Post Occupancy Evaluation seminar in which his colleagues and students will discuss the impact of the new ideas being implemented on both residence campuses.
Hubbell also presides as the chair of the Fraternity and Sorority Residential Initiative Committee.
“They [the dormitories and student centers] promise a whole new way in
which student residencies can be a learning and living environment,”
Hubbell said. “We look at how the new buildings help to form a new social structure.”
Hubbell also expresses the same sentiment about involving the fraternities and sororities in the residence initiatives.
“West Campus needs to be related to the Greek service. It is an integral
part of undergraduate education at Cornell. There is a special kind of
sisterhood/brotherhood and we have to make the most of that,” he said.
Hall warned that overseeing all the different programs and innerworkings of student’s activities is a time-consuming project.
“The biggest challenge was managing time,” she said. “The job is so big and multifaceted. I had to be at all the deans’ meetings.”
Hubbell maintains a huge interest in helping the students on campus.
“I hope that I can serve a constructive role of addressing issues that are
outside of the classroom, that address the whole student experience,”
Other ideas that will be addressed this year including evaluating the
summer reading program for incoming freshmen along with working the
Student Assembly. He plans to work with the Gannett Health Center to
promote student wellness and to keep students safer from alcohol-related incidents on Slope Day.
One thought in particular involves with keeping the Straight in
competition with the other student centers. “The Straight is a refuge from the students’ studies,” Hubbell commented.
“There is a tradition that classes aren’t held in the Straight– students can take leave from academic pursuits.”
With the student centers broadening their services, students don’t have to come to the Straight for all the things they did in the past. This opens
the opportunity for new programs in that student union.
“For me, the most important part of the job is to be an advocate for the
students, to make decisions for students’ interests. I hope students won’t hesitate to come and talk to me. My door is always open,” Hubbell concluded.
Archived article by Kelly Samuels