Equity, inclusion, diversity are priorities for new dean of students

Incoming Dean of Students Garrett Naiman
Currently, Garrett Naiman is executive director and chief of staff of UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships, promoting equity and inclusion on campus. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Garrett Naiman, incoming dean of students and associate vice chancellor for student development and engagement, comes to campus with a strong focus on diversity and a long history of working for inclusion.

“I can’t wait to get there and meet with different groups of students,” Naiman said. “I think this is a really unique time to be the dean of students. College campuses, in some ways, are microcosms of the society around them. This is a polarizing time in this country, and that tension in our national climate is being reflected on the campuses. That heightens the importance of supporting students who are trying to find their place in the world.”

Naiman begins on Sept. 4. T.M. Robinson-Mosley has been serving as interim dean of students since January 2018.

Naiman’s home base will be in the Dean of Students Office in Hahn Student Services, but the campus community can expect to see him on the move, roaming across the campus meeting with student groups. The dean of students position is part of UC Santa Cruz’s Division of Student Success. The dean of students listens to concerns; promotes wellness, leadership, volunteerism, and cultural competency; and encourages students to connect with services, programs, and resources, from event planning to volunteer opportunities and support for basic needs.

Currently, Naiman is executive director and chief of staff of UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships, promoting equity and inclusion on campus. He supports 11 campus programs that assist college-bound first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. Before taking that job, he worked for the Office of Admissions at UC Santa Barbara and in the Early Academic Outreach Program at UC Berkeley.

“I’ve been interested in working for educational equity and access ever since I was an undergraduate,’’ said Naiman, who graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and religious studies. “That’s what got me interested in working in higher education.”

Naiman went on to earn an M.Ed. in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont. He also holds a doctoral degree in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.

Stevenson College Provost Alice Yang, part of the hiring committee for the dean of students position, said Naiman distinguished himself in a field of highly qualified candidates.

“What made Garrett stand out was this really passionate and sincere commitment to supporting students with diverse backgrounds and multiple identities,” said Yang, an associate professor of history at UC Santa Cruz. “We really felt that with his background and with his communication style, he would be able to promote a sense of belonging and inclusion among all students at UC Santa Cruz.”

Yang, who started teaching at UC Santa Cruz in the mid–1990s, noted that the campus community has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades. “Over 40 percent of the students are first-generation,” she noted. “We need to be sensitive to their needs.”

The hiring committee, which consisted of faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students, was very impressed when they watched Naiman meet and talk with students at forums across the campus, Yang said.

“It was very clear that he was concerned about getting their input and wanting to hear their concerns,” she said. “It was important for us to find someone who can build a sense of trust with students as well as administrators.”