Coker Appointed New Vice President, Dean of Students

Benjamin Snyder
Managing and News Editor

Bryan Coker was appointed as the Vice President and Dean of Students and successor to Gail Edmonds. He began his role on February 4.

Dean Coker shows his pride for his new stomping grounds. (Photo: Christopher Riley).

Dean Coker shows his pride for his new stomping grounds.
(Photo: Christopher Riley).

President Sanford Ungar announced the decision in an email to the Goucher community on Dec. 19 after the conclusion of a nation-wide search that started with 147 candidates.

Coker explained his initial interest in coming to the college. “For me, a huge attraction to Goucher was the small, close-knit community, much like my own undergraduate institution, Rhodes College in Memphis,” he said. “Thus,

I am really looking forward to the opportunity to become well-acquainted with the student population, and to serve as an accessible and approachable resource for students.”

In the email, Ungar wrote, “His commitment to the liberal arts began with his undergraduate years at Rhodes College in Memphis, and has been strengthened by extensive professional experience at both public and private, as well as large and small, institutions of higher education.”

The email came after members of the senior staff and the Dean of Students search committee, headed by Vice President and Legal Counsel Laurie Burton-Graham and alumna Becky Kurdle, put together a recommendation for Ungar on December 7.

After that, a period of negotiation between President Ungar and Coker ensued.

According to Burton-Graham, “I think the process went very well and we got a lot of feedback from the community, from students, faculty and staff.”

As part of interviewing for the position, community members were asked to fill out evaluation forms to help put together a recommendation for Ungar. “We got evaluations from students, staff, faculty, student affairs staff, and student affairs directors,” said Burton-Graham. “We had around 30-40 evaluations for each candidate. Among the three remaining finalists, Bryan Coker was the clear first choice.”

In addition to Burton-Graham and Kurdle, the search committee consisted of Alexander Crockett ’14, the student representative, Community Living Coordinator and alumna Mary Wahl, Athletic Director Geoff Miller, Associate Director for Leadership Development Stacey Cooper Patterson, and faculty members Seble Dawit and Thomas Kelliher.

Student Government Association (SGA) President Dashell Fittry ’13 said, “The student input for the new dean was vital to the selection process which is critically important for me as SGA President, to know that the student body’s opinions are so highly valued.”

Burton-Graham praised Coker for a variety of reasons. “I find him first of all to be very calm and professional. He has a breadth of experience, a lot of experience working with student judicial affairs, stretching through residential life issues.”

Fittry expressed excitement for meeting with and working with Coker in the future. “From what I have heard about the man, he will surely bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to the campus,” he said.

The position was vacated by Edmonds, who began her service at Goucher in January of 1998 as Associate Dean. She was promoted to Vice President and Dean of Students in 2001.

Fittry also praised Edmonds’ work over her tenure as Dean. “She was a tireless servant for this school and she has surely left her legacy on Goucher,” he said. “So he has big shoes to fill.”

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