Rows of Pez dispensers and a wall of framed comic books greet students nowadays as they step into the dean of students’ office.
Ricardo D. Hall, who officially took over the position on July 10, has one particular message for undergraduates:
“At the University of Miami I intend to do everything that I can to see that students have the best experience that they possibly can,” Hall said in an interview with the Miami Hurricane.
Hall said he did not come to UM to turn it upside-down. Instead, he wants to ease into the position before considering any changes.
“I think it’s really important that I’m paying attention to how UM does things right now and then we’ll start thinking if that’s the best way to do things, looking forward,” he said.
That is not to say that he does not have any ideas in mind.
“There were some things that I noticed pretty quickly when I came in-one of those is technology,” he said, particularly noting the dean of students’ office. “We are going to be stepping up our efforts in being more current with regards to technology. We’re not in yet the 21st century, I think, in this office.”
At a recent meeting with student leaders, Dr. Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, said that she is thrilled Hall is at UM, adding that he is the “right person for the job.” When the university announced Hall’s selection last April, Whitely told the Miami Hurricane that he was the search committee’s “unequivocal first choice.”
Hall believes he possesses a few characteristics in particular that distinguished him.
“I think something that may have endeared me to the people who interviewed was that I try to keep an even keel at all times,” he said. “And that’s not to say that I don’t respond to situations with a sense of urgency, but I do think it’s important to remain calm in times of crisis.”
On a more job-specific level, Hall pointed to his decade of combined experience as associate director of judicial services at Clemson University and as the associate dean of students at Wake Forest University, his last position.
“I think I bring a certain skill set that comes from having broad student affairs experience,” he said. Hall added that in his career he has worked with admissions, residence life, housing, career services, Greek organizations and academic advising departments, to name a few.
The dean of students’ office at UM oversees the center for alcohol and drug education, Greek affairs, the honor council and the chaplains’ association. In addition, it runs the student judicial and disciplinary affairs, two areas Hall focused on earlier in his career.
“I think I probably most like that my primary responsibilities are no longer judicial affairs,” he said. Hall also expressed his gratitude to Gregory R. Singleton, the associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs, for his “thankless work” on student discipline.
Hall succeeds William W. Sandler, Jr. as the dean of students. Sandler, who retired at the end of last year after 43 years at UM, served in that post since 1989.
Hall said that, besides learning the ropes from Sandler, he discovered something else.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him and how he helped with the transition,” Hall said.
“We spent about month together and I felt like a found a long lost friend. We’ll continue getting together as much as his schedule allows.”
Hall, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, received a doctorate in educational leadership from Clemson, a Master’s degree in higher education administration and a B.B.A in business management from Ohio University.
Besides his comic book and Pez collection, the latter of which numbers between 300 and 400 pieces, Hall also enjoys playing and watching most sports.
Hall and his wife of 11 years, Andrea, have three children: Madison, 9; Morgan, 7; and Mallory, 6 months.
Greg Linch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.