Liz Derickson ‘01, Coordinator of Residential Life, will leave Swarthmore this summer to attend graduate school. She will pursue a doctorate in sociology at either Princeton or the University of California at Berkeley.
Myrt Westphal, the Dean of Student Life, said that Derickson “did one of the most difficult jobs perfectly; I never had to worry about her.” She “was also one of the most cheerful people around” the Dean’s offices; “everyone is really going to miss her as a person.”
Derickson’s colleague Rafael Zapata, who is an assistant dean and the director of the Intercultural Center, agreed. He called her “an outstanding team member” and said that everyone who has worked with her will miss her: not just the “wonderful work that she does,” but also her personality and her “very compassionate as well as highly competent way” of dealing with students’ issues. Zapata served on the committee that hired Derickson; he said that “clearly, we made the right choice.”
However, Westphal stressed that graduate school is a necessary step for Derickson. She has been urging Derickson to pursue an advanced degree for some time. In order to stay in “the deaning business,” she would probably need at least a master’s degree of some kind.
Westphal said, “Against my own best interest, I was very enthusiastic and supportive of her” plans for graduate school. Zapata, who also has a sociology background, agreed that he is “very happy for her,” and thinks that “she would make an outstanding sociologist.”
Although continuing in the “deaning” world, teaching, or moving into the realm of public policy would all be reasonable options, “all I know is that whoever gets her is going to be lucky,” said Westphal.
In the meantime, the college will begin looking for a new housing coordinator. A search committee will be formed within the next few weeks, and job descriptions will be placed on the Swarthmore website, on sites such as HigherEdJobs.com, and into the alumni magazine.
Westphal stressed, however, that this will not adversely affect the current housing process. The wait list, roommate selection for new students, and the like will all be handled adequately: if a new coordinator has not been found, or is not able to deal with all of that immediately, Westphal could step in. She was the housing coordinator for “years and years,” until Derickson came to Swarthmore in 2005.
Expect a College Corner with Liz Derickson in the near future.