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Dr. Wes Brooks: the new dean of students

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Brady Johnson

Dr. Wes Brooks, the new Dean of Students and VP, will be joining the 2,600 students on campus. According to Dr. Brooks, over the next few months, he will be assessing Augustana’s culture to craft his plan for the future of the college. As Dr. Brooks assess Augustana, students will want to know more about Dr. Brooks and his intentions. I sat down with Dr. Brooks to gather his insight on what this new position means to him.
 
Brady: To start, can you tell me about yourself in three sentences? The most important aspects you think the reader should know.  
Dr. Brooks: I’m student-focused. High-energy. Dedicated to creating the most dynamic student experience possible.  
Brady: How long have you been involved in working for colleges?
Dr. Brooks:  It would be 16 years now that I would be involved in higher education on the staff side. Starting as a CA, to student programming and then to the director of student life.
 
 
He would also move up to higher positions as the dean of student life and the vice president of the college.
 
Brady: What pushed you into going into higher education?
Dr. Brooks: In my opinion, a pretty interesting story. My original intention was to be a high school history teacher. In my third year of undergrad, getting into more of the practical work of being in the school and working with the students, in that part I was getting really involved in the co-circular in the college level. I realized that people do this work for a living.
It felt really important – something I was called to. At that point, I made the decision to pursue working at the college level rather than the high school level. I really felt called educating outside of the classroom. Rather than think that I am going to be a college professor I really felt like I wanted to be in the student affairs area.
 
He then went on to gain his master’s in educational leadership, followed by a Ph.D. later in his career.
Before coming to Augustana Dr. Brooks worked at Iowa-Wesleyan University as the VP and dean of students.
 
Brady: What made you want to leave your last workplace to come to Augustana?
Dr. Brooks:  I think the Augustana opportunity was one that you can’t really pass up. Augustana is a fantastic institution one that I feel really called to especially because of the ELCA. Knowing that the ELCA is about social justice and about vocation and calling. You know, I really felt like when I attended an ELCA institution as an undergrad student then worked at a different ELCA institution in my career that vocation and calling piece really helping students find who they are and come alive makes me very passionate about it.
Dr. Brooks:  I know Augustana often times is viewed as a measuring stick to other institutions in the Midwest. Knowing how strong it is both academically and co-circularly. Others look at Augustana as someone who they aspire to be as.
Brady: Everybody has an idea of what they want to accomplish while they are here. What do you want to accomplish?
Dr. Brooks: Right now if I were to think about my 90,30,60-day plan and even potentially push that out for a year I think initially what I need to do is learn the culture. I think it would be a disservice for me to assume automatically what we need to be doing and what changes need to be made.
During my first 30-60 days on campus and certainly moving forward is about relationships for me. Relationships with the students first and foremost and making sure that the student body understands that the student life office and dean, myself, are here for you all.  If you ask me a year from now I would have a better understanding in terms what we need to do.
Brady: What parts of Augustana’s culture have you noticed so far?
Dr. Brooks: A relationship focused institution. I think the faculty and staff work very well together and very close together, which isn’t the case everywhere. I believe the faculty and staff have the absolute best interests for the students. I think we also have a very engaged, ambitious, inspiring students on this campus, which is great to work with every day.
Brady: How have you dealt with Title IX at your previous work?
Dr. Brooks: I think we should speak broadly about sexual violence and prevention training. Title IX is a piece of that and that is a national conversation and a very important one. My experience with Title IX is that I have served as a coordinator in the past. I have worked with Title IX investigations, Title IX training and again reiterating the importance because we care about the students.
We care about the community. I will do everything I can to support the initiatives going on this campus. As the landscape continues to flesh itself out about how we want to manage sexual violence and sexual violence prevention on our campus and nationally we will continue to work through those things collectively. It’s all about safety and community here.
Brady: So you are pretty comfortable with the position and what it does?
Dr. Brooks: Yes, I am comfortable. If I wasn’t comfortable in the work that I am doing, then I don’t think I should be doing this job. That’s not to say there are challenges to face and work through to continually learn.
 
Dr. Brooks will continue to learn about Augustana and formulate his plans for the college. Students, staff, and faculty can find Dr. Brooks walking around campus soaking in the culture.
 
 
Photo at top: Dr. Wes Brooks, Dean of Students. Photo by Brady Johnson.

Graphic at top courtesy of Augustana office of admissions.
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