Loyola University Chicago has officially named a new vice president of Student Development.
Jane Neufeld, who acted as interim vice president of the division following the resignation of Dr. Robert Kelly last March, was selected to permanently fill the position, according to an email sent by Loyola’s provost, John Pelissero.
Before being appointed, Neufeld worked in the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and was part of the Behavioral Concerns Team as associate vice president and dean of students.
Now that she has been permanently appointed, Neufeld is in charge of developing a general vision for student development and allocating resources to the different departments.
To get to know one of the student body’s newest leaders, The Phoenix sat down with Neufeld to understand the role she now plays in the Loyola community.
Loyola Phoenix: How do you think having such a wide range of experience makes you suitable for this position?
Jane Neufeld: It’s knowledge of the culture [that] I think really helps. Having experiences in different areas … being knowledgeable about the culture, the history and where the departments have come from, how we’ve been organized in that past and how some of that kind of shifts. Really, it’s just being knowledgeable about the place and the people.
LP: You said you kind of have always seen yourself as a number two person. What do you think you have to work on to be the number one person now?
JN: You have to think so much more broadly to have a vision of where [the Division of Student Development] should go. I was always a hands-on person, working one-on-one with students. At one time, I advised student government; I advised the program board, the fundraising board … As the vice president, you have to think more strategically, come up with a vision, have a responsibility for allocating resources to the various departments within the division.
My day-to-day has changed dramatically. I used to chair the behavioral concerns team, I used to have conduct reported to me, off-campus student life … all of that reported to me, and now that gets reported to someone else and my day-to-day is meetings. It’s good, but I need to make a concentrated effort to go down to the Damen Student Center to eat in the dining hall, see what’s going on … Up here [on the third floor of Damen] you’re out of the beaten path … I just need to be mindful of continuing to connect with students and the staff.
LP: What kind of working relationship do you want to have with the students. How closely are you planning on working with them this year?
JN: I meet with Flavio Bravo and Michael Fasullo [Unified Student Government president and vice president] pretty regularly, so they’re my constant contacts. I always try to make myself available; I have my direct line on my business card. That’s not going to change. This is my job, and that’s the most important thing, so if students need to get access to me or have conversations with me, I need to make myself available. I try to go to sporting events [and] fine arts activities held on the weekend as my schedule permits, but like anything, [connecting with students] has to be ongoing and consistent … I don’t ever want to be out of touch.
LP: What are you expecting from the student body this year?
JN: My expectation kind of goes along with … the student promise. My hope is that working with them — if they need guidance — is to really take care of themselves, to eat well, do things in moderation, shall we say, to care for each other … As someone who’s lived in the community, my expectation is that students would treat the community as they would their own home town — and they have. So my expectation is that we continue along those lines.
LP: The current five-year plan is coming to an end. What do you have planned for the next five years?
JN: The theme for this next one is all around social justice.
LP: Are you planning to anything differently than your predecessor?
I think we’re on a really great trajectory. I think Dr. Kelly did many great things and made a lot of accomplishments. We got more resources. [He was] really behind the five-year reimagine plan … I want it to be a shared vision. I don’t see us going in any dramatically different direction. Now that we’re all moved in, the construction fence is down, the next phase … it’s going to be great.
LP: Do you have any goals for your first year?
JN: First and foremost, I want to remain connected to students. I don’t have a number attached, but I want to be able to go to more athletic events, plays, musical celebrations, dances … just to get involved in ways that are already organized [and] to spend more time with staff.
LP: What makes Loyola such a special place that you would want to work here?
JN: I don’t want it to sound like a package response, but it really is the people … I can think of people I started with in the late ‘80s … Some of my best friends in life are the people I met at Loyola.
It’s also the generations of graduates … There was one family, there were 13 kids and they all went to Loyola. I didn’t know all 13 of them, but what does that say about this family that didn’t have a lot of resources, but felt it was a priority to send their kids to a private school?
LP: Anything else you would like to add?
JN: People know this about me, but I make really, really good chocolate chip cookies.