Michele Murray, the Senior Vice President for Student Development and Mission and Dean of Students, stands on campus at the College of the Holy Cross.
As part of organizational changes announced earlier this year at the College of the Holy Cross, the Division of Student Affairs will now be known as the Division of Student Development. While the signage outside its office on the first floor of Hogan Campus Center will receive a minor update, its work will continue to support students as it always has.
“‘Student development’ is a term that much better captures the fullness of what we’re doing outside the classroom,” said Michele Murray, senior vice president for student development and mission/dean of students. “Out-of-classroom engagement, caring for students’ well-being and the education that happens, such as community building, citizenship and personal responsibility, are captured much better by ‘student development.'”
The Division of Student Development encompasses 11 departments that extend across campus: the counseling center, health services, Holy Cross Bands, and the offices of accessibility services, multicultural education, campus recreation, residence life and housing, student integrity and community standards, student involvement, student wellness education, and parent and family engagement.
“When a student comes to us, they essentially come to us out of high school,” Murray said. “We are positioned to help them grow into responsible adults.”
Murray has dedicated her career to student development in Jesuit higher education and there’s an excitement evident in her voice when she describes how the foundation of Ignatian spirituality ties into students becoming the people they are meant to be.
“There’s a really magical time in this emerging adult world where that process of becoming is almost accelerated,” Murray said. “Students are learning through their hands-on experience. They’re learning about their gifts and talents — who they are in the world and who they want to be. They’re learning about commitment, being responsible citizens and being people for and with others.
“They’re learning this isn’t about ‘me,’ it’s about me and my relationship to the world around me,” she continued. “‘Student development’ starts to conjure up the depth of growth and transformation that’s happening for students outside of the classroom much better than ‘student affairs.'”
The name change is part of a renewed process to connect students and bring greater awareness that the College supports student growth.
“The work that we do with students is very much about the hope we have for the future of the world,” Murray said. “That we are contributing to that hope-filled future by educating students, helping them develop and become people who are able to put on the perspective of another in solving problems and looking at a situation with a great deal of compassion. I would argue that the world needs so much of that. That’s what we are doing, that’s what we have been doing, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
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