Most colleges and universities have a dean of students, a person whose responsibilities vary by institution but generally involve serving as a point of information for students and responding to students’ needs.
At Longwood, Larry Robertson fills this role. Basically that means students are the center of his work universe. A 1990 Longwood grad himself, Robertson has worked at the university nearly 20 years, and was named dean of students in 2012.
Thinking you might be interested in knowing more about Robertson and the Office of the Dean of Students, I posed some questions for him. I hope you find his answers helpful and informative. Contact information for the office is at the end of the post.
What offices report to the Dean of Students Office?
Residential and Commuter Life and the Office of Disability Resources.
What do you like best about your job?
There are so many things to love about my job. I never know what to anticipate, and I am never bored. More importantly, I work with an incredibly caring and professional staff who are dedicated to meeting the needs of our students. But I have to admit that watching students grow throughout their careers at Longwood and then hearing about their successes after they leave is by far the best part.
How does it feel to be helping students at the same school where you were also a student? Do you think that gives you an advantage in your job? If so, how?
I have always said that coming to Longwood as a student was the best decision that I ever made. It became a second home to me. Although the campus has changed a great deal, it still feels like home to me. In many ways, my remaining at Longwood gives me a chance to re-pay the faculty and staff who inspired me to grow as a student and a leader.
Being an alum is an advantage. Students enjoy hearing about what they call “old” Longwood. I can talk to them about life at Longwood before cell phones and Google. I can also help them learn about and enjoy our many traditions. Most importantly, the students keep me young!
What are the main services that your office provides to students?
The Office of the Dean of Students provides programs, services and referrals that support student success and foster the development of citizen leaders. Our staff is available to answer questions, point students and families in the right direction to get the information they need and serve as a single point of contact in time of crisis. We collaborate with partners across campus to foster involvement, promote responsible decision making and enhance student learning.
We strive to be available for all students and their families and to be a liaison between the students and the rest of the university. We may not know the answer to every question, but we will make sure that we refer you to the right person.
One of our biggest initiatives is the management of the Care Team. The team comprises representatives from across campus who meet regularly to discuss and develop interventions for individual students before their behavior escalates and becomes detrimental. We make every attempt to ensure that the students do not even know that we are intervening and that they are learning to solve problems for themselves.
Are you working on any new initiatives?
We have worked with the Longwood Foundation to set up Longwood Cares—A Student Emergency Fund that will provide money to students in need of items not provided by other offices or funding resources.
We are also working to develop a series of programs on civility and diversity issues.
What is the best way for students and parents to contact you?
Parents and students can contact us by phone at 434-395-2485. They will probably speak with Tracey Jarrett, who is the true expert in our office. They can also send an email to CareTeam@longwood.edu.