Move deals College a double loss

by Alexander R. Edlich | 5/16/94 5:00am

After having to answer everybody's questions as the Dean of Students Office's "Know-it-all" for 12 years, Associate Dean of Students Barbara Strohbehn will leave this summer to accompany her husband to Duke University.

She will depart after Commencement in June to join her husband, who will start as Duke's provost July 1, and look for a new house.

Strohbehn said last night she does not know what she will do, including where -- or if -- she wants to work. She said she wants to read about North Carolina's history and is excited to indulge her bird-watching hobby in a new setting.

But Strohbehn's calmness and modesty belies the invaluable role she plays in the Dean of Students Office every day. Many administrators who work with Strohbehn say her departure is a great loss to the College.

"She's going to be very hard to replace," Assistant Dean of Students Katherine Burke said. "She's a behind-the-scenes person who is involved in a wide range of things on campus."

Sylvia Langford, Class of 1996 dean, said, "'Invaluable' is absolutely the right word for her. I can't imagine the office without Barbara."

Dean of the College Lee Pelton said, "Barbara is not easily replaced. She knows more about Dartmouth College than just about anybody."

Both Burke and Langford cited Strohbehn's large institutional memory as a great resource for the office.

"She knows a lot of people all over campus, how different departments work and how they interact with each other," she said. "It will be very, very hard to replace Barbara."

Pelton and Senior Associate Dean of Students Dan Nelson said Strohbein's attention to detail make her indispensable as a colleague.

"She has a genius for detail," Nelson said. "Whatever project she's working on, she picks up on the important details that would otherwise be overlooked and pays attention to them."

Strohbehn -- who seems to have her hand in everything that goes on in the Dean of Students Office -- said with a sheepish smile that the office would not fall apart without her and would, in fact, continue to do very well.

From the look on her face, even to suggest that she is invaluable is embarrassing.

Strohbehn said the office will "still be standing" when she leaves and added that she has been training people to fill different [parts of her role.

Pelton said he will look into possible replacements. He added that he will examine the job description and possibly revise it because Strohbehn "had taken on a number of actions and assignments that are not part of the job description."

Langford said she valued Strohbein's insight and often consulted with her when she had questions.

"She really mentored me," Langford said last night.

She said she is sad to be leaving the College after 12 years in the Dean of Students Office, and will miss her colleagues and the students the most.

"I am going to miss being a part of the governing system at Dartmouth," she said. "I'm going to also miss watching things evolve and change."

Though Strohbehn said she will be sad to leave, she also said the decision to go was easy because "John was just so excited about the opportunity to work with Nan Keohane," who is Duke's president.

"The nice thing about it is that he would really make the team better," she added as her eyes flickered for a second with delight before she turned back to her coffee.

She said if she does not take a job at Duke similar to the one at Dartmouth, she will explore other job opportunities, including businesses and volunteer work.

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