After more than 25 years at SIUE, Kara Shustrin stepped into a new role at the beginning of the year as the dean of students.
The new dean of students position combines the responsibilities of two previous positions: associate dean/director of student conduct and associate vice chancellor for student affairs/dean of students. Shustrin served as the associate dean/director of student conduct for the past four years, while the associate vice chancellor for student affairs/dean of students position has been vacant since its last occupant, Jim Klenke, retired.
According to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple, a search was conducted to find a replacement for Klenke; however, the top candidate took a position at another university. Waple said they then reevaluated and decided it made the most sense to combine the two positions.
“Part of it was the person who was in the role before, who was the associate vice chancellor, many of their duties were already being assumed by Kara and her associate dean role,” Waple said. “A lot of the things that the former associate vice chancellor was doing were being transferred into Kara’s role as he was getting ready to retire.”
Waple said he felt Shustrin was the right fit for the position for a variety of reasons, including the professional relationships she has built across campus and her experience in a wide range of areas.
“[Shustrin] has great empathy,” Waple said. “She has built a great work net- work across campus, she has gained the respect and credibility of her colleagues. She’s been handling all our student conduct for the past four years, [and] she’s been handling a lot of the Title IX sexual assault complaints as well... She has also supervised staff, and that’s important.”
Her first position was in University Housing, where she worked as SIUE’s first hall director when Woodland Hall opened in 1994. Since then, Shustrin has held a number of positions, including the assistant director of resident life, assistant director for academic programs and assessment, assistant director for marketing in University Housing and program specialist for Student Affairs.
Shustrin said these various positions have led her to many opportunities for personal and professional growth.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate,” Shustrin said. “I’ve worked for a number of people who were able to give me opportunities that I never imagined when I first walked through those doors right out of graduate school.”
Shustrin said she considers some of her greatest achievements at the university to be helping to establish Focused Interest Communities in University Housing and the SIUE Experience, the program that welcomes incoming freshman in their first days on campus.
“It was nice to be able to take a look at it as a university and say, ‘Okay, what do we want to make sure we get into students’ hands so that they have the tools and resources they need to be successful in that transition, whether that be from high school to college, whether that be from a transfer institution, whether that be someone who’s coming back to school for the first time after working for 20 years, [or] whether that be a veteran who’s transitioning to our campus after being in the military?’” Shustrin said.
Prevention Education and Advocacy Center Coordinator Samantha Dickens has worked with Shustrin throughout her three years at the university. Dickens said she views her working relationship with Shustrin to be a kind of mentorship.
“Kara has been working in higher education for many years, so she was a mentor and guide for me through [a career in] higher education,” Dickens said. “She’s actually the first person I met when I came for my interview, and she was my first introduction to campus.”
Dickens said she believes Shustrin has demonstrated her dedication to the university and SIUE students, and that Shustrin will do well in her new position.
“I think [Shustrin] has shown that she has a real passion for SIUE, a real passion for the students, and she’s very thoughtful and intentional about the work she did in conduct,” Dickens said. “She’s willing to make changes so that process is a better process and more effective, more efficient, with more student participation.”
Shustrin assumed her role as dean of students on Jan. 2, which sees her supporting the Offices of Student Conduct, Health Service, Counseling Services and ACCESS. Her office can be reached at 618-650-2020.