International student advisor Steve Silver departs

by Briana Tang | 11/1/15 8:59pm

Assistant dean and international student advisor Steve Silver departed from his position at the Office of Pluralism and Leadership last Monday, after serving the College for more than 25 years in various positions.

Senior assistant dean and of office of pluralism and leadership director Reese Kelly did not say the reason for Silver’s departure.

Issues affecting the international student community have come into focus this term since the College announced in September that the admissions office has shifted from a need-blind admissions policy for international students to need-aware. In response, international students circulated a petition criticizing the policy, which has 1,626 signatures as of press time.

International student association president Chi Pham ’17 said that Silver was supportive of the international students’ creating a petition in protest of the change in international admissions from being need-blind to need-aware by helping the ISA reach out to administrators, who Pham said have been receptive of international students’ opinions, answering questions and setting up meetings with the ISA.

Pham said that though the change in the admissions policy for international students from need-blind to need-aware was the first possible reason that came to mind when she heard the news of Silver’s leaving, she has since dismissed the idea.

When Kelly confirmed the dismissal, he said that the change was not a factor in Silver’s decision to depart from OPAL.

Pham said that OPAL told ISA leaders that Silver’s departure was due to “emergent personal plans” that OPAL could not disclose.

Former post-doctoral fellow at Dartmouth’s Gender Research Institute and faculty advisor to the Triangle House Brianne Gallagher will serve as the interim assistant dean and international student advisor.

She will begin Monday and serve through the remainder of the academic year, Kelly said.

Gallagher’s experience advising international students includes her graduate training in transnational and social justice at the University of Hawaii, where she worked with international students and organized programs about feminist issues, Kelly wrote in an email that was sent to all international students.

As assistant dean and advisor to international students, Silver oversaw numerous programs for international students, including international student orientation, international issues personal perspectives program, international friendship family program and international student mentor program.

His mentorship, guidance, counsel, support and advocacy for international students had a large influence on how international students transition to their life at Dartmouth, Pham said.

Pham said that Silver was known by almost all international students, many of whom had close, personal relationship with him and visited him frequently in his office hours to talk about how they were doing.

Former international student association vice president Anwita Mahajan ’17 said that she saw Silver as an important member of the international students community.

“I saw him as a person who really valued the importance of international students on Dartmouth’s campus,” she said. “He understood the balance international students have to strike academically, socially and financially, among other things. He is very aware of what international students are going through and treats everyone with a lot of respect.”

Mahajan said that Silver played an important role in her transition to Dartmouth by answering any questions she had before arriving to campus and through international student orientation, during which Silver brought together international students by emphasizing the things they had in common while explaining the facets of American culture.

“Orientation defines how you begin looking at Dartmouth, and he designs a robust Orientation every year,” Mahajan said.

OPAL has been active in communicating and reaching out to students following Silver’s departure, Pham said.

Mahajan agreed when she said that OPAL has been very proactive in communicating any developments.

Pham said that Silver’s departure meant more than just losing an advisor.

“There are a lot of sources of support at Dartmouth, so what’s missing will not be an advisor, but a friend,” Pham said.

Students are not worried about his replacement, but rather how Silver is doing, Pham said.

Assistant dean and Latino students advisor Rodrigo Ramirez said Silver was an important resource for international students.

“[Silver] has been a tireless advocate for international students at Dartmouth and routinely went above and beyond to make sure that students had the support they need. He always strived to make Dartmouth a better place for students and his commitment to the College and to his work made me so proud to have him as a colleague here at OPAL,” Ramirez said.

Kelly encouraged all international students to access the resources at OPAL during the transition period.

Silver’s departure is in addition to several that have occurred over the last few years. OPAL director Alysson Satterlund and assistant dean and advisor to black students T.M. Mosley departed from their positions at OPAL on July 11, 2014.

Silver did not respond to comment by press time.