New UMass Boston Dean of Students Takes Reins

Felicia Whatley

Dr. Marita Labedz Poll began her appointment as the new Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs June 2.

Poll brings to the campus many years of experience working in student affairs and higher education, having recently served as the Senior Associate Dean of Students at Lake Forest College where she co-chaired the regional accreditation committee, chaired the student affairs strategic planning committee, and developed a crisis management plan for the college.

“In the role of Dean of Students at UMass Boston, Marita will work with all departments in the division to move our judicial affairs system forward, establish a co-curricular learning framework, and continue to build opportunities for student engagement,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Patrick Day.

“I am the Dean of Students. When students have concerns or issues I am the person they can come to for help for academic, student life, and professional issues. I want students to know I am available and approachable,” said Poll.

Poll is a wife, mother of three, and a proud owner of a sweet slobbering basset hound named Bud. As a first generation college student of immigrant parents growing up in south-side Chicago, Poll understands how important family has been in her career and academic endeavors. She recently completed her doctorate of Education.

“The Dean of Students’ roll is to be available, care about, and enhance student life and enhancing opportunities here for students. I am here because of students,” said Poll.

Poll has been in Student Affairs for 22 years. Over that time she has held numerous leadership roles, from serving as the Assistant Director of Residence Life and Director of Greek Affairs at University of Rochester, to the Assistant Dean of Students at Otterbein College and was American University’s Student Activities Advisor.

Poll plans to tread lightly on making changes. She wants to get to know the students, faculty and staff first. She wants to talk with them to understand the culture and get to know who to network with.

“She will also establish critical partnerships campus-wide with faculty, local community partners, and other key departments,” said Day.

Poll takes the student Code of Conduct seriously and feels students need to have integrity in their community. She wants to connect with students before they have a crisis.

She wants students to know her and know she’s responsible and have a reason to trust her. She is a half marathon runner aspiring to run full marathons. In reflection she understands putting in effort for the long haul.

“Everybody has their bag of tricks. I want to see what will do particularly well here and see where it all fits in the organization. I want people to get to know me and know of me, so they can come to me,” said Poll.

She is getting new ideas for the future of Student Affairs and learning from programs in the past. Poll will support students in engaging in their community. An interest for sororities and Greek life on campus has been expressed and will be explored.

Poll expressed a necessity for student involvement on campus. She wants students to have a voice and know that their input matters.

“Students have a home here, advocates, and someone to listen to them on campus. I am going to focus my attention on the political process on campus and put effort in improving welcome week, Beacon leadership, and continue to improve programs because the student body continues to evolve,” said Poll.

Poll’s office hours are Tuesdays 10:00am to noon and Wednesdays 2:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Students don’t need an appointment to see the new Dean of Students, but can make one if they wish.