Dr. Nancy Grass to Step Down as Associate Dean of Student Life in the Fall
Deep, faltering breaths, teary eyes, and a heartfelt standing ovation—these were the responses from the Associated Students (A.S.) board as Dr. Nancy Grass announced her decision to step down as Associate Dean of the Student Life at the A.S. board meeting on May 6. Student Life is the department that oversees the A.S. and Inter-Club Council (I.C.C.).
“Many of you who know me know that at my very deepest core I am a teacher. I am an academic,” said Dr. Grass to the crowded Cayton Center. “I am here to announce that I am stepping down as Associate Dean of Student Life as of June 30, and I will be heading back to the classroom this fall.”
The room fell silent as Dr. Grass began to express her gratitude for the opportunity to serve as Associate Dean of Student Life. For four years, Dr. Grass has worked with many A.S. boards on various projects addressing food security, civic engagement, student homelessness, and many other issues.
Despite her accomplishments, Dr. Grass was candid about the position’s struggles. “Last year was probably the most difficult year of both my personal and my professional life,” Dr. Grass said. However, the current A.S. board helped alleviate the emotional toll she had faced over the past several years. “This year with this board was one of the best, and it was really healing for what I’ve gone through in the last few years, you guys really helped to repair that damage, and I thank you for that,” Dr. Grass said to the student representatives sitting on the board.
The following day, at the Board of Trustees meeting, I.C.C. Vice-Chair Paniz Karimpour gave a public comment expressing gratitude toward Dr. Grass. “She is the kind of advisor who looks you in the eye and touches your heart. I’m not sure words can explain how grateful I am to have an advisor who is incredibly dedicated and supportive, but I’m going to give it a shot,” said Karimpour.
Dr. Grass expressed excitement about returning to her role as a communications professor in the fall. “The communication classroom allows students and instructor to work through the material together to uncover truths about people and our relationships,” she said.
Dr. Grass was also optimistic about the opportunity to practice her passion without judgment. “As an administrator, my motives as an educator were frequently suspect,” Dr. Grass said. “In the classroom they are assumed only to be purely educational.”
Although Dr. Grass’ decision surprised some students in the Cayton Center, Director of Activities Jabria Allen expected Dr. Grass’ return to the classroom. “I noticed whenever she would talk about her old days in teaching she would literally turn happier. She’d get this light in her eyes. I think for her personally, this is probably the best move,” said Allen.
Nevertheless, Allen considers Dr. Grass’ resignation to be the loss of an important asset to Student Life, and by extension, the A.S. board-elects. “They’re really gonna have to rely on each other more than ever,” said Allen.
The administration has not yet announced who will replace Dr. Grass as the next Associate Dean of Student Life.