A New Class Dean Model

Questions and Answers

Class deans are very important to the success of students. They are often the people students first connect with to identify necessary resources and help guide their college experience. We are moving from a model of having the same class dean all four years to having a different class dean for each academic year. Below we offer additional information to better understand the model and how it will work at Bryn Mawr.

Class Deans will develop more specialized expertise in the opportunities and challenges of each stage of undergraduate development and offer advising and programming specifically designed for that stage. By working with several advising professionals over time, you will also have the chance to broaden the team of people who guide you through your Bryn Mawr career and expand your network for community building and success. 

To ensure students are supported with an integrated and transformative college experience, it is necessary to conduct periodic evaluations and make necessary adjustments to any advising approach. The rapid, changing nature of student experiences suggests students need more specialized support, and the need to support students in more integrated ways requires that we adjust. 

The new model will assign one dean per academic class year. Each year, you will be assigned the following dean:

  • A number of deans have either retired or left the college. 
  • Dean Heiser will be the interim Sophomore Dean this year while we search for a permanent hire. She will also continue to focus on Academic Support and will work very closely with the class deans. 
  • Dean Skirkanich and Dean Krimmel were appointed as advising deans for a limited period of time to increase collaboration and communication between advising, career engagement, and faculty. Now that those partnerships have been well established, they will return to their primary full-time roles; however, they are still part of your network, so you are encouraged to remain connected to them. 
  • The Class of 2027 have been assigned to their first-year dean. 
  • For other classes, you will hear from your class dean on July 19. This will allow students time to connect with their new dean ahead of the start of the academic year.  

Class Deans will send an introductory message to their advisees before the start of the new school year. They will also send out questionnaires where you can share essential information, goals, and concerns. They will host several informal gatherings early in the year. Of course, they will be available by email, Zoom-in and walk-in hours, and will offer appointments that can be scheduled online. They will work with each class to develop and host relevant workshops and other events throughout the year to build cohesion with members from your class and offer relevant information for your continued success tailored to your experiences and milestones in that year.  

The work of the Class Deans with their advisees will build on what is currently being done in advising. There will also be additional resources and support that allow the Class Deans to remain attentive to the individual needs of students while supporting common needs of the entire class.

The Class Deans will also partner more intentionally with other offices to offer programs to enhance your experience and connections to your class. This partnership includes several new or enhanced positions that we believe will add great value to your experiences. Below you can learn more about the added and expanded roles that will support this integrative model.

  • Dean of Student Life — The Dean of Student Life implements an innovative strategic vision and enhances the holistic student experience rooted in belonging and well-being. The Dean of Student Life will oversee Health and Wellness (Counseling Services and Medical Services), Student Engagement, Residential Life, and Title IX. They will collaborate with students, staff, and faculty to enhance a welcoming, supportive, and intellectually engaging environment that builds community and maximizes opportunities for student learning, engagement, and success.  
  • Dean of Student Success — The Dean of Student Success provides strategic leadership, supervision and oversight of the Office of Student Success which is responsible for supporting undergraduate students as they navigate their academic careers at Bryn Mawr College. The Dean of Student Success leads the office that houses the Class Deans, Access Services, First-Year Experience, Academic Support, Global Education, and Fellowships. This position will also have partnerships and collaborations with faculty and liaise with Haverford College. 
  • Assistant Director of Case Management — The Case Manager is a non-clinical position that will assist in supporting students who encounter non-academic difficulties that undermine their ability to succeed and function. They will work closely with the Class Deans, Access Services, Academic Support, Counseling Services, and Residential Life to support the ongoing and holistic needs of our students.  
  • Assistant Director of Access Services This position was recently approved and filled to address the additional needs of students. The assistant director of Access Services will work directly with students to facilitate documented academic, housing, and dining accommodations.
  • Campus Safety Student Liaison — The Student Liaison is a staff member who will work closely with members of Campus Safety, the Office of Student Life, and the Office of Student Success. Through partnerships and collaborations with the Dean of Student Life, Class Deans, Title IX Coordinator, and student leaders, this position will prioritize restorative practices, conflict mediation, mental health triage and referrals, and creating a direct bridge between students and Campus Safety.

For students who want or need individual advising appointments, those will still be offered. In addition, since students can learn from one another’s questions and experiences, there will be numerous opportunities for group advising on a wide variety of topics. This inclusive approach will support community building and offer an opportunity for building new relationships. 

During the very busiest times of year, Zoom-in and walk-in hours will help provide time-sensitive information and advice. There will also be other staffing resources in the Student Life Division to support your immediate needs as the Class Deans will be in constant partnership with others. 

Yes! While each Class Dean will need to prioritize their current advisees, we encourage you to sustain the relationships you have built with your previous deans. They will enjoy hearing from former advisees and connecting on campus, both at formal events and in the informal encounters that happen all the time on a small, residential campus.  

It is important to realize that this change is just one part of a broader reimagining of how to provide student support most effectively. We are hiring additional staff across the Student Life Division to ensure the ongoing and holistic support of our students. These new staffing plans include expanding the offices of Student Success, Academic Support, Access Services, and The Impact Center for Community, Equity, and Understanding.

Your new dean will be able to access your academic record in BiONiC and your student file (that includes information like extension and withdrawal forms, your Bryn Mawr application, etc.)  In addition, they can access any official meeting notes that your previous dean may have taken.  

Please see Dean Karlene Burrell-McRae's letter, emailed to the undergraduate students on, Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Updates and Changes in the Undergraduate Dean's Office