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"A moment with ... Gwen Fears"


Gwen Fears
"A moment with ..." is a Q-and-A column featuring Miami employees.

Today, take "A moment with ... Gwen Fears, associate dean of students."

Gwen Fears began her career with Miami University in August of this year. Just two months into her position, she received the 2011 Outstanding Orientation Professional award from the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA). Fears fills us in on her national award and on her journey that led to Miami.

Q: So, what’s your secret? Only two months on the job and you already received an award?
A: (Laughing … ) That was based on my work prior to coming to Miami. I had no idea my colleagues nominated me for the work I had done at the University of Utah, where I served as the director of orientation and leadership for nine years. I was surprised and very humbled. I have been involved in NODA since 1994. It’s funny and great that Buffy Stoll (Miami’s director of new student programs) received this award last year. Miami is represented two years in a row, and continues to support our involvement in this national organization.

Q: What brought you to Miami?
A: I was looking for my next career opportunity and had heard wonderful things about Miami from people I worked with and students attending the school. The associate dean position seemed like a good fit for my career and life goals. I support Susan Mosley-Howard (Miami’s dean of students) and will be branching out into new areas for me that I am so excited about doing, including working with students in crisis. My husband and I also were looking to locate in the Midwest closer to family. We have two young children and we wanted to decrease the 22-hour drive to see grandparents to something more manageable.

Q: From Utah to Ohio, that is a big move. How are you adjusting?
A: People here have been fantastic, warm, welcoming, kind to my family. It is what we were looking for, why we were drawn to the Midwest. We are excited to become a part of the community, not only the campus, but the greater community.

Q: What are some interesting facts about Miami that you are learning?
A: Miami is a very different institution from where I came from. The University of Utah is twice the size, 33,000 students, but only 10 percent live on campus. That makes the dynamic very different. The Oxford campus policy of first- and second-year students living on campus attracted me to the position. You have them here, that captive audience, so much opportunity to work with them. Miami has a great reputation. The common response from other colleagues when they heard I was coming here was that Miami is a great institution. I knew that there was a high level of care and focus directed at undergraduate students. Now I am actually living what I had heard about. Being a part of a faculty, staff and an administration so dedicated to the learning process and the success of students is pretty awesome.

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