For the first time in 23 years, the Office of Student Life is under new leadership.
Jon Dooley, who has worked at Elon since January 2014 as Assistant Vice President for Student Life, was appointed Vice President for Student Life last December. He officially started June 1.
“When I met with students during my interview for this position last fall, I assured them no one would work harder on their behalf than I would, and I meant it,” Dooley said. “I am a strong advocate for the student experience. I also want to be available to students. I’m already working with SGA President Morgan Bodenarain on regular lunches with students, and you will continue to see me around campus at student events with my family.”
Before coming to Elon, Dooley worked at Marquette University for 16 years in the Office of Student Development. Dooley received a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from Marquette, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from James Madison University and a bachelor’s degree in history and social studies education from St. Norbert College.
After all of his work and scholarly achievements, Dooley is excited for the start of this school year.
“For someone who works in Student Life, there are so many things to be excited about at Elon,” Dooley said. “There are exceptional professionals in the division, and the university has a strong culture and tradition for partnerships between faculty and staff. Everyone at the university works together to support student learning and an outstanding student experience.”
While Dooley looks forward to working in his new position, it comes with new difficulties.
“When you work in Student Life, you work with students as they celebrate great joys, but you are also sometimes working with them through tragedy and very difficult situations,” Dooley said. “Helping students through those situations, especially the loss of a member of our community, is never easy.”
Despite the difficulties, Dooley said those working close with him believe in his abilities to handle adversity.
“I have complete confidence in his ability to lead the Office of Student Life,” said SGA Executive President and senior Morgan Bodenarian. “Dr. Dooley is loved by both staff and students because of his openness and willingness to listen. He will be a wonderful resource for all Elon students to have.”
Like Bodenarain, Smith Jackson, former-Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students from 1998 to 2017, is confident in Dooley’s abilities.
In a previous interview with ENN, Jackson said, “(Dooley) believes in community engagement, he believes in hands-on learning, he believes in stretching the mind. That’s what’s Elon’s about. That’s why he came here, and that’s why he’s going to do extremely well.”
In order to continue the growth that the Office of Student Life experienced under Jackson’s tenure, Dooley intends to work with Jackson to improve student life at Elon.
“Smith Jackson is one of the truly great leaders in the field of student affairs and had a profound impact on our university,” Dooley said. “His legacy is significant and I am glad he will continue to be here at Elon, helping to establish the new master’s program in higher education, so we can continue to work closely together.”
Despite this significant transition of leadership between Jackson and Dooley, students are not expected to feel the change.
“Most students shouldn’t notice many changes in their experience,” Dooley said. “Elon is an institution that does a great job with planning and the transition between Dr. Jackson’s leadership and mine should be fairly smooth and seamless. The biggest difference will be the name of the person sending students the occasional email updates.”
Dooley is expecting to send just as many emails to the student body as Jackson did.
“I plan to keep students updated, but I know there was nothing quite like a ‘Smith Jackson email,” Dooley said. “But when you’re hoping for that snow day, look for my name in your inbox.”
Besides updating students on possible snow days, Dooley will also be working to support all of the 15 departments under the Office of Student Life. He will also serve on President Leo Lambert’s senior staff and will work with Elon’s new president when they are announced.With his tenure only just beginning this summer, Dooley is unsure what the next step for his career, after Vice President of Student Life will be.
“I hope to have the opportunity to be at Elon for a very long time,” Dooley said.