More than a year after it began searching for a new dean of students, the University named Dr. Laura Blake Jones to the position.
Pending approval by the Board of Regents — simply a procedural step — Blake Jones will become the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Blake Jones is currently the interim dean of students at the University of Oregon.
In a press release, Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper said Blake Jones is well prepared for the job.
“Dr. Blake Jones brings a wealth of experience in student affairs and leadership,” Harper said. “Michigan students and the University will benefit from her previous involvement in emergency and critical incident management, strategic planning and diversity education and support.”
The selection of Blake Jones followed a second round search by the advisory committee, which failed to find a candidate to fill the spot last year. At the time, a number of candidates visited campus to interview, but no hire was made.
The committee resumed its efforts in October with the help of consulting firm Greenwood/Asher and Associates. In February, three finalists for the position visited campus to participate in public forums.
Linda Green, a spokeswoman for the Division of Student Affairs said the search committee was better prepared in its efforts the second time around.
“The advisory board had more experience in terms of what they were looking for,” Green said. “They worked with a search firm that really brought in some excellent candidates, and so we had a good pool to choose from.”
Following the forums in February, attendees submitted comments about the candidates to the committee.
Former Michigan Student Assembly President Sabrina Shingwani was one of three student representatives on the search committee. She estimated that around 25 students attended each of the forums, many of whom were from student organizations.
Shingwani said in speaking with students following the forums, they “overwhelmingly” supported Blake Jones as she was able to speak from experience on the issues students raised.
“She clearly had a strong understanding of what diversity meant to the U of M,” Shingwani said. “Of the three candidates, she clearly had the most hands-on experience with students and student concerns, and student issues.”
Blake Jones has a bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio and a master’s degree in Student Personnel Services in Higher Education from the University of Vermont. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Oregon.
Blake Jones has worked in student affairs at each of her alma maters as well as for the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Davis.
The dean of students oversees student development units like University Health Service, Spectrum Center, Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and Trotter House, and Awareness Center and Services for Students with Disabilities.
Since former Dean of Students Sue Eckland retired last year, Harper has primarily served as interim dean of students.