Blog Series: Meet the Post University Deans (Part 1)

man with purple graduation regalia in front of sculpture
This August we will be running a blog series that feature each of our three Post University Deans. Follow along as our deans share their own unique story and experiences.

Who is Jim Whitley?

“Originally born in Westchester County, New York. I was living in Boston, I just moved here last September for the dean position, I’m dean of the Burke School of Public Service and Education.

My former position was as an assistant dean with Springfield College for a little over nine years, there I oversaw bachelors and masters’ programs of human services.

One of the things that attracted me to this position is because not only do we have a bachelors and a masters’ degree in human services, we also have legal studies, I’m a lawyer by training, and we have criminal justice and early childhood and child studies which have concentrations I also had at the college campuses that I ran. That’s what attracted me to the position.”

How do you spend your free time?

Jim Whitley spends a lot of his free time participating in different community service organizations.

“Right now I am part of a board right outside of Boston. The group is United Somali Youth. They don’t just work with Somali youth but they started off trying to help recently arrived Somali youth integrate into the Boston community through activities and outreach efforts.”

Now that Whitley no longer lives in Boston, he’s become involved in local organizations as well.

“Here I’ve been involved with Granville Academy, they do a lot of work helping secondary school kids start thinking about college and careers. We’re actually planning a two-day career fair through Granville academy to take place in in downtown Waterbury at the end of September.”

Whitley is looking forward to working with other organizations in the future and increasing his participation with United Way of Greater Waterbury.

Besides his community service, Whitley is a self-proclaimed “movie buff,” music enthusiast, and animal lover. Whitley does not have a favorite film, but he likes to find “good, well done, innovative horror movies,” especially ones that make some sort of social commentary.

Whitley used to play the clarinet and the piano, and enjoys listening to new music and frequenting museums.

Another fun fact about Whitley: he used to own fourteen snakes.

What do you do as a dean?

“It’s a lot of administrative, behind the scenes stuff to make the school run. Everything from overall management of the course schedules and the supervision of the faculty.

Also there is lots of planning that goes into moving the programs forward, adapting our programs to the changing environments and the needs of our students. Definitely there are budgetary, fiscal responsibilities, it’s anything that is needed by the staff, faculty, and students to make it all happen.

Students are at the center of everything we do, but whatever it takes to provide the quality learning experience that we need for our students, and that may have very little to do with what’s going on in the classroom, in the moment, but if it touches the needs of our students then ultimately, on behalf of my school, I have to and want to be part of that.”

What’s your favorite part of being a dean?

“It’s actually really engaging with the students.

I love engaging with my faculty members and any staff members, I like working across departments as well knowing that we’re all committed to a similar goal, a very similar mission. When I get to connect with students, and that’s even when students are having an issue, when they’re concerned that they didn’t get the grade that they feel they earned, it’s a teachable moment for me, for them, for us to put our heads together and see where the points ended up and making sure they understand how they earned the grade they got.”

How is your routine in the summer different from during the school year?

“On campus it is noticeably different because the residence halls are empty, not as much traffic and there are almost no main campus student issues at the moment to address. It provides us all with a lot more time to take care of the administrative stuff and also to get prepared, as we really want to, for the big rush of incoming students in the fall.”

Online classes run during the summer so Whitley still interacts with some students.

“I’ve noticed for my team, the faculty that are in my school, it’s a great opportunity for them to find some downtime, even though they’re busy with the online courses.. They’re finding that these couple months of summer before the main campus students come back, to take some quality time away with their families and loved ones. It’s a really good work environment in terms of catching up on stuff on the main campus and having that uninterrupted time to do that.”

“This is a really special place and I think all the students would agree with me too.” Whitley is approaching his one-year anniversary at Post University this September.

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