Changes in student life roles

Maggie Lorenzen   
Executive Staff

In an email  to the University community on October 25, Dean Erica Howard announced that Dean Lauren Goodpaster and Bobby Silk will both step down from their current roles on January 1, 2022, to serve in new capacities at the University. Goodpaster will end her role as Associate Dean to serve as Coordinator of International Outreach in the Office for Civic Engagement (OCE), while Silk will step down as Director of Residential Life to work as a Student Success Communication Specialist for the Office of Marketing and Communications.

Goodpaster has served as a Community Standards leader, Assistant Dean for Campus Activities, and her current role of Associate Dean. She is transitioning to her role at the OCE because she feels “like what really gave me meaning and purpose and helped me find my way and ground me during college was participating in service learning and outreach.” Goodpaster said, “I was an incredibly shy student, and being able to find that voice through service gave me a lot of confidence, which is originally what inspired me to go into graduate studies.”

As director of community engagement at Rollins College and director of leadership and service at the University of Kentucky, she “loved getting to support students and challenge students and get them to volunteer.” When her husband was called to the seminary, she came and found her place as Community Standards leader, however her “heart has always been drawn to helping students find their meaning and purpose,” which she believes comes through community engagement and service. 

Goodpaster aims to continue to partner with Student Life and the broader Sewanee community, especially focused on tying the two more closely together. She sees building community as a way to lead to growth and give back to students in the way she received help as a student herself. “I was lucky enough and honored enough to be called there,” she said. One way she plans to do this is by bringing domestic Spring Break community engagement trips back in Spring 2022. 

She hopes “that we find someone who deeply cares about students when they need that, and hold them and push them when necessary as well. Somebody who is just really ready to take on flourishing in a holistic way, meaning not just in relation to Covid.” Getting every student involved in service in one way or another is her main goal. 

Silk has served as an Area Coordinator, an assistant director and director of residential Life, and he will pivot to being a Student Success Communication Specialist, under the Office of Marketing and Communications. He has been at Sewanee since 2013, and he notes that he was on a particular career path, but has since “noticed for [himself] that so many of [his] strongest talents came from communications and the ways that [he] was contributing to the division (of Student and Residential Life), and what [he] was getting the most excited about.”

Silk’s new role will be embedded in the Student Success Center, and he notes “that it kind of felt like the perfect opportunity to make my professional life around student life and my strengths.” He is most excited about the fact that it positions him well to amplify student flourishing and success through sharing student stories from a broad and diverse platform, and he hopes to “attract students to the University, connect students to resources, help Communications support students, and create an even more involved and engaged alumni network.”

He hopes his successor “understands their role as an advocate for students, working to advance housing, because just so much of life is in dorms.” He has made the beginning of taking the overall campus housing in taking it to where students want and need them to be, however Silk hopes his successor continues this work to make “the moves necessary to make home tangible for students.” Viewing issues as the students do is “crucial” to this role. 

Silk is incredibly thankful to the proctors especially, and he is “Grateful for the opportunity to take a step down a path that [he loves] and contribute to this larger purpose. I am also excited about being able to advance and grow in a professional sense.”

Each will transition out of their current role in January 2022, and the search for their successors will begin soon.