A Dean for Every One Student

Caleb Nelson

“She’s a good person to have on your side,” said Davin Surin, one of the Editors here at the Mass Media-referring to the recently instated Dean of Students, Dr. Marita Poll. But before anyone screams bias and flips to their horoscope, hear our new Dean out:

“It’s really important to me to get to know students, to talk to students, to understand what you guys need-then I can offer suggestions and support that can help you develop.”

This approach worked for Olivia DeSimio, who moved from Kansas to come to UMB last fall, and who lately has been having difficulties with her housing situation.

“She did a good job dealing with both of us-my roommate and I,” said DeSimio. “It was more, we needed to figure out how to work this out…she was understanding and willing to hear everything both of us had to say before she made any decisions.”

Dean Poll’s level headedness is what DeSimio said she appreciated most. Though not everything can be remedied, DeSimio said the Dean offered perspective that made her situation tolerable.

“The Dean helped us understand possible consequences. If we got any worse, we probably would have ended up in court. So in that way it helped. It helped us avoid more serious consequences.”

Citing Animal House, Dean Poll said she plans on avoiding the “mean dean approach.” Her goal is to help students learn by being engaged on the campus, and finding practical ways of approaching seeming impasses, she said.

“If there are roadblocks that we can help you eliminate, than we will help you do that. Sometimes it is a process of recognizing what the roadblocks are and saying, wow this is a situation that you’re going to try to avoid in the future, but it’s a difficult one. How can we help?”

Regardless of the question, Poll would like students to know that she is there with an answer or a way to find one. Her slogan, “Every One Student Matters”, is born from UMB’s own mission: to be a student centered University. Besides her open office hours, Tuesday 10-12pm and Wednesday 2-5pm, students can call and set up an appointment with her any time during the day, or stop by her office and see if she is available.

Dean Poll sees herself as an advocate for UMB students. She would like to be aware of the individual issues that students face, aid in the discovery of solutions, and most of all, to offer students ways of participating in the UMB community.

“Hands down, one hundred percent of the time students who are involved outside of the classroom report a much higher satisfaction. Their grades are going to be traditionally, and across the board, higher than students who do not participate at all.”

One of the first things that Poll said she tells new students is to find an extracurricular that interests them, and to get involved. She is confident that UMB students have many opportunities to be engaged and feel plugged in to the community, making connections with other students, and with the faculty and staff.

“Students on this campus are first and foremost, and [they are] the reason that we as an institution exist,” said Poll. “And even more so the Dean of Students operation is here for students-completely-totally-one hundred and ten percent.”