Written by Ezra Ekman
After Aaron Prestwich’s September departure, FRCC sought a new dean of student affairs. Student organizations were invited to join a forum of faculty and staff to interview three candidates for the role on November 7, 2019. The forum was livestreamed so that students, faculty, and staff who couldn’t attend the forum could watch remotely.
The candidates were Larry Loften, Chico Garcia, and Erica Ingalls. Each candidate described their experience, background, and process, and was asked how they believed they could best fill the role. Ingalls was chosen as the new Dean of Student Affairs.
Ingalls was involved in college leadership since 2004, beginning as President, V.P., Treasurer, and Education Director at Metropolitan State College’s Sigma Sigma Sigma. Later at Metro State, she served as a Hispanic Serving Institute Committee Member, Speaker for the Senate, Leadership Facilitator, and Student Travel Coordinator. She became an academic advisor at Front Range in 2011, then Assistant Director of Academic Advising & Retention Services, and finally the Professional Experience Director of the Pathways Advising & Career Center.
The role “Dean of Student Affairs” might sound like a role specific to issues faced by individual students. However, it’s more about providing leadership and direction than handling individual student concerns. Danielle Boileau, Director of Student Success, was a part of another panel and asked different questions to the candidates.
“The forms were open, and anyone who attended could bring any questions with them that they wanted. There were no pre-scripted questions,” said Boileau. “My panel was the student affairs leadership team, which was made up of coordinators and directors who lead the various offices that make up the division that is student affairs.”
Boileau confirmed that additional questions, such as how each candidate would connect with and support students, were asked during that panel. Thus, it was a priority that candidates also possess skills addressing individual student concerns.
Andrea DeCosmo and April Menzies are instructional deans at FRCC who work with Student Affairs.
“I rely on my colleagues in student affairs,” said Menzies. “I reach out for advice, probably most often in situations where students come with a particular request. We also reach out when there are overlaps between both Instruction and Student Affairs.”
“We all serve on the Westminster leadership team, with the facilities director and the vice president, Cathy Pellish,” said DeCosmo. “We meet weekly and we stay connected.”
Ingalls herself saw the Dean of Student Affairs role as covering everything outside the classroom.
“The Dean of Students is the person who supports students through their academic journey outside the classroom,” said Ingalls. It’s all the other stuff: navigating processes, understanding resources that are available, connection to students and creating a community, from the time of inquiry to the time of completion.
Ingalls described her path in higher education as starting with student government.
“Voices in student government and advocacy is where I found my passion,” she said. “I’ll be meeting with all of my departments to learn more about their roles, to gain a better understanding of what their history and culture has looked like on campus so far, and then learn from them where they see my role in supporting them. I’d love to go sit with student government and learn more about the student organizations process. Student government gave me that connection.”
Speaking about student advocacy, Ingalls reflected on her past experience.
“My background is overseeing veteran advising and career services,” she said. “That has allowed me great opportunity to advocate for students in those areas. This new position allows me to broaden that to continue being a voice for students.”