March 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Cape Verde: University Administration: Swarthmore College: Cape Verde RPCV Elizabeth Derickson to be Associate Dean for Student Life at Swarthmore College

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cape Verde: Peace Corps Cape Verde : The Peace Corps in Cape Verde: March 24, 2005: Headlines: COS - Cape Verde: University Administration: Swarthmore College: Cape Verde RPCV Elizabeth Derickson to be Associate Dean for Student Life at Swarthmore College

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Cape Verde RPCV Elizabeth Derickson to be Associate Dean for Student Life at Swarthmore College

Cape Verde RPCV Elizabeth Derickson to be Associate Dean for Student Life at Swarthmore College

Cape Verde RPCV Elizabeth Derickson to be Associate Dean for Student Life at Swarthmore College

Committee selects new Housing Coordinator

The eight-member Housing Coordinator Search Committee finished deliberations last week, offering Elizabeth Derickson ’01, a paralegal in Philadelphia’s Public Housing Unit at Community Legal Services, Inc., the position that Associate Dean for Student Life Myrt Westphal will vacate at the end of the year.

“We were looking for a person who had a combination of interpersonal qualities and administrative qualities,” Westphal said. “In her interviews, [Derickson] was very personable and connected easily with the staff as well as students.”

“In the Peace Corps and as a housing paralegal, Liz has excelled at working with and getting to know people different from herself,” committee member Sarah Goldberg ’05 said in an e-mail. “As a student here, she was a founding member of Learning for Life and many have commented on her ability to communicate with many different people.”

Derickson applied for the Housing Coordinator position because it piqued her interest in administrative and personal tasks. “The position is a nice blend of interpersonal responsibilities and raw logistical juggling — both of which I enjoy,” she said in an e-mail. “I had a positive experience as a student and [resident assistant] at Swarthmore and am excited about returning to the Swarthmore community in a new capacity.”

Derickson said she will improve housing and student happiness by including more students in the discussion. “I hope to bring even more students into the campus housing dialogue, including students who live off-campus or who are critical of the residence life program,” she said. “I also look forward to maintaining a close, effective relationship with the college staff — including Environmental Services, Workbox, etc.”

Both working as a paralegal and having been a Swarthmore student will prove helpful to Derickson in her duties as Housing Coordinator. As a paralegal, she “learned how to deliver good news, bad news and confusing news.” In addition, she said her experiences as a Swarthmore student are helpful because she already knows the “ins and outs of the college.”

“I look forward to meeting the entering class — both on paper as I pair first-year roommates and in person as they arrive to campus this fall,” Derickson said.

She said she is excited to work with resident assistants, and the college’s staff and administration, and “to hassle my old buddies at the college post office.”

Westphal said the search committee looked for a smart person with the ability to work in crisis situations and the committee found that person in Derickson.

The committee’s search began when Westphal was promoted to associate dean after Tedd Goundie left the position last year.

Westphal received between 80 and 100 applications for the position, read them and initially eliminated applicants who graduated from college within the past three years and who did not have residential life experience. This narrowed the pool to 40 applicants.

“At every point we looked for different qualities,” Goldberg said. “Originally we focused ... on whether people had the work experience to be qualified whereas we later focused ... on personal qualities and the more intangible things [people] would bring to the position.”

Of the 12 applicants, the committee spoke to nine over the telephone and three in person. After these informal interviews, the pool was reduced to four applicants who interviewed on campus and were reduced to three. Alice Hershey ’02, Barbara Gersitz and Derickson then came to campus a second time for full-day interviews with Westphal, the search committee, Dean of the College Bob Gross ’62, students and faculty.

The search committee used written and oral feedback from attendees of the full-day interviews to determine who would be offered the position. The committee decided on Derickson after a near semester-long process that Westphal described as “pretty extensive and time-consuming.”

Westphal said Derickson was the most attractive candidate because of her likeability and work experience that afforded her the opportunity to work with a variety of people, Westphal said.

“Liz is poised and wise,” Goldberg said. “She will welcome and deal well with challenges.”

Derickson said she is passionate about improving not only student happiness and housing but also the Swarthmore community. “My empathy for the housing-stressed sophomore, the depressed junior or the exhausted [resident assistant] will be heightened because I was each of those students,” she said. “The Swarthmore community is a source of some of my greatest friendships and formative moments. As a result, I will bring a heartfelt commitment to the task of improving that community.”

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Story Source: Swarthmore College

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