The door is always open to deans’ office

Meredith Fletcher sits at her desk in the bottom of Woodruff Hall. She has a smile on her face as a student walks in with an uneasy expression. This type of reaction from students is not uncommon.
“A lot of times they will come in sort of shy and timid because it’s the deans’ office, but we’re really not scary once you know us,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher is the first line of defense in the associate academic deans’ office. She deals with issues including graduation standards, scheduling of any sort, looking at academic jeopardy, leaves of absence or resignations, signatures and problems with classes or professors.
“She keeps track of us. She has all of our calendars. We could disappear; the CIA could swoop in and abduct all of us, and she would know,” said Associate Academic Dean Yasmine Ziesler, with a laugh.
Ziesler is in charge of the FYS and study abroad program. She said students come to her office asking, “Where in the world could I go, what could I do?”
Among other duties, Ziesler has the fun job of teaching all first-year students Castleton’s alma mater song.
“Think about how you teach 500 first year students to sing!” Ziesler said.
On the outside of the door of Ziesler’s office, she has alphabets in different languages that spell out her name. Her challenge is to find another alphabet from a student around campus so she can add it to the collection.
Ingrid Johnston-Robledo is another associate academic dean, whose desk is in the room next to Ziesler.
She works on faculty student research grants, transfer student initiatives, and helps those chasing the civic engagement certificate.
Joining them is Associate Academic Dean Jonathan Spiro, who the women in the office describe as high-spirited.
“He sings Christmas songs in July,” said Ziesler and she insisted, “he really has a superhero costume on underneath that elegant suit and tie.”
He works with honors students, with technology shifts and alongside new professors to get them oriented to Castleton.
But for most students the Associate Academic Deans’ Office remains a mystery.
In fact, out of 11 students asked if they have been there or what the deans do, seven responded by saying they didn’t know about it or where it is.
“No I have not, sorry. Actually I’m not sure where that is or what they do for that matter,” said junior Brynna-Lee Carper.
But those in the deans’ office want to change that. They say too many tours have gone by the office, with leaders not knowing what to say.
The deans would like to welcome students to stop in just to say hi, as some students do. They love visitors and don’t want people to feel scared to come down.
“The goal is when a student comes in, if they come in crying, that they leave smiling,” Fletcher said.

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