Martina Munsters, currently the associate director of student affairs at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, will become the University's first deputy dean of students on November 1.
The position of deputy dean of students is new, and was created amid a year-long process of reorganizing the Department of Student Affairs. The reorganization has been spearheaded by Steve Klass, vice president and dean of students in the University. Klass's own position was created only two years ago, and he has been largely responsible for the changes in the department.
As deputy dean, Munsters will be responsible for overseeing the variety of programs that the University offers in student affairs. She will act as Klass's senior leader in multiple areas, including the offices of student health affairs, international student affairs, and graduate student affairs, as well as the design, implementation and interpretation of student affairs rules and regulations. Munsters will also oversee the Dean on Call program, a liaison with the University Police, and all related issues and services.
"I would characterize Martina as an ideal colleague and someone very well suited to work with students, parents, faculty, and staff on complex and sensitive issues," Klass said. "Martina is an excellent listener, a creative problem-solver, a good policy analyst, and a strong student advocate. Plus, she has a good sense of humor, an invaluable asset in our line of work."
Working closely with the various deans of students in the different academic departments, Munsters will "coordinate efforts as an institution to provide the best kinds of support to students," she said. "Academics will do best when they feel well and are not worried about outside influences."
Munsters, a native of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, is one of eight children"somewhere in the middle," she said. She completed her education in the Netherlands and received an advanced degree in anthropology from Vrije Universiteit (Free University) in Amsterdam. "My working world is here," she said.
While conducting field work in Peru, Munsters met her husband, an archeologist and former graduate student at the University of Chicago. They came to Chicago when he began writing his dissertation.
She was originally interested in developmental aid work in South America. "When you live in the United States and are not a citizen, you can't work in those kinds of organizations," Munsters said. "I knew I wasn't interested in teaching or researchI'm too pragmatic."
Munsters has been involved in student life at the University in a variety of ways. She and her husband were resident heads in Thompson House in Pierce, and she has also served as the assistant and then associate dean of student affairs, as well as managing the Benefits Office.
She said that the experience of managing the Benefits Office was good, but she missed working with students and got back into student affairs via the business school.
"I [feel that] I can truly help somebody," Munsters said. "The process of teaching students about what's possible and available for students at the University" is what makes her job so enjoyable. Munsters enjoys interacting with students and encourages them to walk into her officethe door is usually openand interrupt what she's doing, so she can help them. "Students here are pretty articulate," she said. Talking with them "adds another dimension to my work that I'm not sure a lot of other people here have."
Munsters did not specify any goals for her new position, saying that she would evaluate the needs of the University community in November. "I'm sure that in the process there will be plenty that will come forward for us to look at, and then I will interact with students," she said. "I will see what's there."