Caitlin Caseyjoined the Tufts undergraduate advising team of the School of Arts and Sciences as associate dean of undergraduate advising in February. Casey advises upward of 1,000 undergraduate students with last names beginning with the letters S through Z. Before coming to Tufts, Casey worked at Harvard as the assistant dean of Harvard College and as the Allston Burr resident dean of Lowell House.
Casey told the Daily that her experience at Harvard gave her a deep understanding of the importance of looking at students in a holistic way. Shenoted that she was excited to join Tufts because of all the great things she had heard about the students and community.
“Students here are known to be brilliant and committed to bettering the world. … I also had great conversations during my interviews with my colleagues and was really impressed with the values and generosity of everyone who works with students,” Casey wrote in an email to the Daily.
Casey discussed her new role as an associate dean of undergraduate advising in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts.
“The way I see this role is as a guide through these years. I’m here to help you think through how to get the most out of your short time at Tufts,” she wrote. “Sometimes, that is brainstorming strategies for how to deal with the inevitable challenges that life is going to throw at students. Sometimes, it is reassuring a student that following their passions does not make them unemployable. Often, it is just being a sounding board as a student thinks through complicated options.”
Casey summarized her advising philosophy.
“I’m not interested in judgment. I’m interested in strategies for moving forward productively. I also hope to help students free themselves from some of the deeply ingrained ideas we all carry about the way things SHOULD be,” Casey wrote.
Casey described her prior experience as a Harvard professor and dean.
“At Harvard, I was the academic and residential dean for 420 undergraduates and I taught classes in the History and Literature department,” Casey wrote. “The resident dean job was a unique role in that it blended some of what is done by [the Department of Student Affairs] here and some of what is done by the advising deans. I advised students on everything from academic issues and disciplinary cases to roommate struggles and leaves of absence.”
Not only did Casey work and teach on the Harvard campus, but she also lived and raised children in a college dorm.
“[That was] an insane and beautiful experience to have had for 9 years,” Casey wrote.
Casey explained how her own college experience has helped her relate to and empathize with students in her current role. In college, Caseyfelt embarrassed that she could not just sit down and read academic texts like the way she thought her peers could. As a way to break up the task, she would set nine-minute timers to help her concentrate.
“Now, I set a timer for nine minutes. Then I do something else. Then I come back to it. I get a lot more done and I spend exactly zero minutes worrying about a thing that isn’t ever going to change,” Casey wrote.
From her experience at Tufts so far, Caseywrote that she has learned how collaborative the community is and feels lucky to have joined the advising team.
“I hope that our office feels like a safe and welcoming place for students. Talking to us isn’t like being sent to the principal’s office! And I’d encourage students who are struggling to reach out early and often,” Casey wrote.
Deans Tanesha Leathers, Susan Koegel, Matthew Bellof andLeah Gadd of the undergraduate advising teamwrote about the role of the Tufts advising deans and how the advising system has changed throughout the pandemic in an email to the Daily.
“Advising deans serve as part of the constellation of academic support for students here at Tufts. We help students understand academic expectations, policies, and resources during their journey here. We also connect students to opportunities that can help them get the most out of their academic experience before they graduate,” they wrote in a joint statement.
Leathersadded that since the start of the pandemic, the prevailing advising format has been over the phone or on Zoom.Although she anticipates meetings to operate in person, she thinks that virtual appointments will likely continue to be offered to students.
Leathers also wrote that the two newest members of the Tufts advising team, Casey and Koegel, have been great additions to the team.
“[They] have offered so much in the way of student advising and support in a short amount of time,” she said. “This is crucial as we continue to help students navigate the residual impact of the pandemic inside of the classroom. We have only been a full team for about a month, but we’re on the right path and I look forward to working with them in the future.”