Bryant Ford named associate dean for community life and inclusivity

The newly created position will oversee the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Native American Program and the Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life.

by Daniel Modesto | 2/22/21 2:10am

Source: Dartmouth College

Bryant Ford, formerly the associate director of the Counseling Center, has been named associate dean for community life and inclusivity. Ford, who assumed the position on Jan. 1, oversees the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, the Native American Program and the Tucker Center for Spiritual and Ethical Life.

Ford began in the newly created position following 18 years at the College. Dean of the College Kathryn Lively, who aided the hiring search committee, said the position was created last year as part of an initiative to connect offices that help support students on campus, especially those who work closely with underrepresented students.

“It was about building a better tapestry between these offices in order to increase the overall support that we have available for students,” Lively said.

Ford said his transition from the Counseling Center to the divisional management of the College has been a “learning curve.” As a clinician, Ford worked individually with students, but he now works with teams of people in different offices, which he said has been “an exciting opportunity.”

Chaplain and dean of the Tucker Center Rabbi Daveen Litwin noted that for the Tucker Center, “working with OPAL or working with the Native American Program is already built into the work that [they] do,” given the center’s focus on inclusivity.

Currently, Ford said navigating pandemic-related issues, including housing insecurity and financial challenges, is his greatest priority.

According to Lively, an earlier search for the position took place in January 2020, but the process was postponed in March as things “came to a crashing halt” due to COVID-19 and applications for the position “dried up.” 

Following discussions with her senior leadership team, Lively said she decided to find possible candidates from within other offices at Dartmouth. She reached out to Ford in October to discuss the possibility of taking on the role. 

Lively said that she was looking for a candidate who had a history of supporting underrepresented communities and also had experience with leadership development. She added that she hoped for someone who was also committed to student wellness and mental health support, which Ford had “on his side” as a clinician.

According to Ford, his previous position as associate director of the Counseling Center has given him skills in crisis intervention, which he hopes to utilize as associate dean.

Looking ahead, Ford said he has considered creating a student advisory committee for community life and inclusivity to stay informed on student perspectives on campus climate and culture. He also hopes to work closely with Pan-Asian students, Native American students and international students to ensure they feel safe and comfortable on campus.

Ford said he understands that “a lot of people don't necessarily feel like they belong, for whatever reason.” As an associate dean, he wants to highlight the work done by students to make campus more inclusive and be someone “who is not only committed to [inclusivity], but willing to work toward that.”

“I very much recognize that this is going to take a community effort,” Ford said. “And so if I can bring people together to be engaged in this issue and to move this forward in a way that feels very welcoming and inclusive for students, then I feel like I'm doing my job.”