Vijay Pendakur has been named Cornell’s next Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students, the University announced today. He will assume the new position and begin his term on Jan. 3.
Pendakur was one of three finalists for the dean of students position who presented platforms to the Cornell community at a series of open forums this fall.
The dean of students serves as a “highly engaged and visible advocate for students” and helps to build “a sense of community among students and creating opportunities for students to explore the intersectionality of identity development,” the University said in a release.
At a candidate forum on Aug. 26, Pendakur focused on the importance of inclusive diversity dialogue, stressing that he would be a dean for “all students” and accommodate different opinions on minority issues, The Sun previously reported.
Pendakur stressed that advocacy and resource centers should work collaboratively with students, rather than working “for” them. He also suggested helping recently graduated students prepare for life after college and spoke about the need to elevate dialogue on campus inclusion.
Pendakur added that three mottos would be integral to his work at Cornell — “relationships make the world go around,” “social justice work is a marathon and not a sprint” and “keep students at the center, always.”
“Students are out in front of us on a lot of these issues,” he said at the forum. “I am able to learn from my students, about the rapidly-evolving nature of trans-inclusion politics that they’re better at than me. It’s an inspiring and powerful moment, when I can listen and learn, by keeping students at the center.”
Pendakur served as Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Success at DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., and he currently serves as Associate Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs at California State University–Fullerton.