Dean of students candidates meet with campus leaders

Three candidates vying for the dean of students position visited campus in February and March to meet with and be interviewed by university officials. The search committee, which met Thursday, is expected to extend an offer to one of the candidates this week.

The new dean will replace William W. Sandler Jr., who is retiring this summer after 44 years at the university and 17 years in the position.

The dean of students’ office runs the center for alcohol and drug education; Greek affairs; the honor council; the chaplains’ association, and student judicial affairs. One of the most important responsibilities of the dean of students, who reports to Pat Whitely, vice-president for student affairs, is to coordinate disciplinary procedures and manage student conduct.

The candidates, who visited separately in the three weeks before spring break, each spent three days on campus meeting with campus leaders, including President Donna E. Shalala, Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc, Sandler, Whitely, and the student affairs and dean of students staff. The candidates also met with the Association of Greek Letter Organizations, the department of residence halls, student leaders, and the dean of students search committee.

The first candidate to visit was Richard J. Ferraro, the dean of students at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. In a reception with student leaders on Feb. 23, Ferraro cited alcohol reform as one of his achievements in student affairs, emphasizing the importance of reaching freshmen as soon as they arrive to college.

“Nutrition, eating disorders, multiculturalism, sexual misconduct.those can really be gut-wrenchers your freshman year,” Ferraro said.

Ferraro earned a doctorate and master’s in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where Shalala was chancellor from 1987 to 1993) and a B.A. in history and political science from Cornell University. He has worked as dean of students of graduate studies at Columbia University, assistant dean at the College of William and Mary, and assistant dean at Emory College.

Ricardo D. Hall, the second candidate to visit, said he was attracted to UM because of its diversity.

“I think the University of Miami is the most diverse private institution in the nation-in the southeast for sure,” Hall told students on March 2. “I accept the cultural richness of this institution.”

Hall, who holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Clemson University and a B.B.A. in business management from Ohio University, is the associate dean of student services at Wake Forest University. Before that, Hall was assistant dean of students and academic advisor at Wake Forest, associate director of judicial services at Clemson, and residence director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The third candidate to visit was Neil S. Rajmaira, the director of student judicial affairs at the University of California-Berkeley. Rajmaira told students on March 9 that he was most impressed by student spirit at UM.

“It’s a really infectious culture,” he said. “It’s energizing.”

Rajmaira holds a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, a law degree from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. His previous experience includes being associate director of student conduct at the University of Pennsylvania and practicing as a district attorney in Pennsylvania.

According to documents provided to The Hurricane from the division of student affairs, the university is looking for the new dean of students to have an advanced degree, preferably a doctorate, and a minimum of 10 years experience in student affairs administration, especially in judicial and disciplinary issues.

One of the challenges the dean will face, according the student affairs documents, is to help achieve the university’s goal of increasing the number of students living on campus by 20 percent.

According to Whitely, the search committee hopes to announce the new dean by April 15.

Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at