Written by: Shelbie Baker and Anna Stroup, Red & Black Contributors
Dean Eva speaks to incoming students and their families at a 2019 "Gear Up" Event. (Courtesy W&J College)
College students have experienced their country, lives and the world they know change since the year 2020.
Higher education institutions thrive on tradition, formality and culture. In many cases, encouraging change in higher education is difficult. Campus leaders “find themselves at the intersection of change,” said Susan Bartel in the Administrative Issues Journal in 2020, “torn between their institution’s history and culture.”
Dean Eva Chatterjee-Sutton is currently the Dean of Students and the Vice President of Student Life at Washington and Jefferson College. During the longevity of Chatterjee-Sutton’s career, she has experienced and inspired change across campuses through her students.
“I am really drawn to change makers and people who have a vision for something they want to do,” career-long administrator to higher education, Dean Eva Chatterjee-Sutton, said.
“I am really drawn to change makers and people who have a vision for something they want to do,” career-long administrator to higher education, Dean Eva Chatterjee-Sutton, said.”
She has worked with a variety of students and organizations on campus as student engagement “feeds (her) soul,” Chatterjee-Sutton said.
Ever since social media emerged, it has brought change to every aspect of everyday life. Chatterjee-Sutton described the challenges that come from social media and the importance of “face-to-face interactions.” She feels it is the responsibility of administrators to encourage deeper discussion and confident communication between students on campus and the faculty.
With a colleague, Chatterjee-Sutton created what would become the W&J Weekly and Weekender. After discovering there was no form of internal communication in the institution, Chatterjee-Sutton aimed to change how important information is shared through an “internal communication stream.” This system’s importance would be highlighted as it ensured the spread of important information during the COVID-19 pandemic on campus.
A different focus of Chatterjee Sutton’s is the Student Government Association. She has helped create and change the current student funding model that is vital to clubs and organizations on campus. Her changes to the funding model assist clubs and student organizations in easily applying for funds through student government. While in student government, Chatterjee-Sutton has met many students who have promoted a change on campus.
“[Dean Eva] has helped create and change the current student funding model that is vital to clubs and organizations on campus. Her changes to the funding model assist clubs and student organizations in easily applying for funds through student government.”
One such student is Devon Dobbs ‘17, who inspired and created ASAP (Advocates for Sexual Assault Prevention). Through working with Chatterjee-Sutton during a summer internship, Dobbs became an example of student activism at W&J. This program is now a mandatory first-year student orientation event that highlights the importance of sexual assault prevention and teaches incoming students their role on campus as an advocate.
“I think that part of learning about yourself and about leadership is finding your activist voice and advocacy voice,” Chatterjee-Sutton said while recalling Dobbs, “to produce change.”
Through working closely with students at W&J to promote change, Chatterjee-Sutton has discovered what makes this campus special.
“I think there is a commitment to learning and growing that is really wonderful,” Chatterjee-Sutton said.
Disclaimer: The following article is a student feature from Dr. Berberick’s COM 230 Journalism class.