ALEXANDRU ROTARU ’22 | ASSISTANT COPY EDITOR •
After Dean of Students Michael Raters ‘85 resigning on May 13 this year, after 11 years of service to the college and to the student body in the role, Associate Professor of German Gregory Redding ‘88 has taken over as Acting Dean of Students. During his time at Wabash, he was a brother at Lambda Chi Alpha and a member of the cross-country team member. After graduation, he held many positions at Wabash College, such as fraternity advisor, faculty athletic representative to the NCAC, and faculty athletic committee chair, which gave him experience relevant to his present role with the college.
In his experience with Wabash, a recurring theme for Redding has been that each generation of students wants to leave its mark on the institution by making it better than it was. “I think Wabash today, in so many ways, is demonstrably better as an institution than it was when I was a student,” Redding said. “[Students] have opportunities that we couldn’t even dream about: the immersion learning opportunities, using technology in beneficial ways, Career Services [and many others].”
The same holds true for administrations past and present. While Redding has many initiatives in store for the college, he will also help the college grow by building on the foundation built by Raters and his initiatives. “The most important thing Dean Raters did was cultivate that ethos of freedom with responsibility,” Redding said. “I think this is so much of what makes Wabash College work. And all of that, of course, hinges on the Gentleman’s Rule. I’m going to continue all the years of work that Dean Raters did to hold students to that and make them live the Gentleman’s Rule.” Because of the Gentleman’s Rule, students have the unique opportunity to experiment and develop through trial and error in a safe environment, which makes Wabash a truly special place.
There are many initiatives Redding will be championing in his time as Acting Dean of Students. First, in light of the two tragedies that have struck campus over the past three years, as well as those that have struck other institutions in recent history, mental health has been at the forefront of the Student Life initiatives. “We’ve become increasingly aware in recent years of the growing need to attend to everyone’s mental health,” Redding said. “So, we’ve provided a lot of training for faculty and staff, in the last couple of years, on how to help people who might be struggling with mental health issues. This year, we’re exploring options for providing more training to the student body in general, since the students are really on the front lines. They’re the ones talking to each other.”
Other areas for improvement include the check-out process in the Spring, so as to ease the Orientation and check-in processes in the Fall, as well as student activity planning, and general communication between departments. The goal for the college is to become as student-centered as possible, in order to insure the best possible outcome for Wabash men. While the Gentleman’s Rule enables and encourages students to seek their own paths in life at their own pace, “I think students benefit from a little more structure and guidance from faculty and staff,” Redding said. An example of such a situation, according to Redding, would be the difference in recent fellowship outcomes, compared to when there was no dedicated staff to help with applications.
One of the challenges in turning the Dean of Students’ Office into a place for guidance which is student-centered is its association with it being a place of discipline. “That’s a very small part of what Student Life [including the Dean of Students’ Office] is at Wabash,” Redding said. “What Student Life does is help students have a better experience here,” Redding said.
In Redding’s opinion, the most important aptitude anyone can have, from students, to faculty, to the Dean of Students, is curiosity. “To me, not coupling raw intelligence with curiosity will cause you to under-utilize your intelligence,” Redding said. In his position, having curiosity enables him to challenge the status quo, and help the Student Life team come up with better ways to improve the quality of life at Wabash.