For David Anderson, who retired as dean of students, working with students proved to be the most enduring reward of a 30-plus years career.
Students gave Anderson his rewards

It’s easy to compile a list of accomplishments for David Anderson during his 23 years at Binghamton University, but ask him what was the most rewarding experience and he doesn’t hesitate: working with students.

And not just advising or counseling them, and in some cases disciplining them.He says, what he enjoyed most was the chance to work with students on community projects like Habitat for Humanity and riverback cleanups.

“There is so much to be gained with identifying our common interests and sharing common experiences and as a result getting to know each other better,” he said. “Students begin to see us as people and not just administrators or faculty. Community involvement or service are ideal vehicles for promoting incredible understanding.”

That genuine interest in students is what made him a valuable member of the Office of Student Affairs, said Rodger Summers, vice president for student affairs, who described him as “the consummate professional.”

“David treated every student as if they were his own children,” he said. “He really took an interest in them as individuals and had a genuine concern for students.”

Anderson, one of the 56 BU employees participating in the early retirement option, officially ended more than 30 years in the SUNY system on November 28. After earning his MS from SUNY Albany in 1971, he became a placement counselor on the Albany campus, before moving to Potsdam as an assistant director and then to Fredonia as director of career development. He came to Binghamton in 1979 as director of the Career Development Center.

He took over a department that didn’t have interview rooms or computers, both of which he corrected soon after he arrived. He carved four interview rooms out of some lobby space and became the first in the division to acquire a microcomputer and oversaw the development of a mainframe application on job notifications.

On a statewide level, he was also helping to shape career counseling, becoming the founding president of the SUNY Career Development Organization, which helped redefine what had been placement offices on many campuses.

Anderson was tapped as assistant vice president in 1984 and then asked to serve as interim vice president for student affairs in 1989, helping the University prepare for a visit by the Middle States Accreditation team and managing 10 budget cuts within a two- to three-year period. He was named associate vice president and dean of students in 1991.

One of the primary responsibilities as dean of students is the role as disciplinarian, overseeing suspensions and expulsions, recommendations for psychological and medical withdrawals, and recognition of fraternities and sororities.

He also oversaw the Career Development Center, the Counseling Center, Health Services, International Student and Scholar Services, Judicial Affairs, the Trio Programs and Services for Students with Disabilities.

“I have had the incredible good fortune of working with people with amazing talent, unbelievable dedication and a phenomenal work ethic,” he said. “These are people who are so committed and loyal to Binghamton University.”

He said one event that easily demonstrates that commitment was the campus’ response to the measles epidemic in April 1989. College campuses were closed across the country following an outbreak of measles among students until they had vaccinated those who weren’t affected.

“In 3 1/2 days we immunized around 10,000 individuals,” Anderson said. “To give you an idea of the spirit, Gene Gilliand who was in charge of physical facilities, walked up to me in the East Gym and said, ‘Tell me what you need.’ That was it. That was the kind of wonderful cooperation we got from the campus and the community.”

Other standouts on his list of accomplishments are the Counseling Center’s response after 9/11, the accreditation of University Health Services, the phenomenal growth in international students, becoming one of the first campuses to have a written AIDS policy, and the push to install automatic door openers on campus buildings.

He served on numerous campuswide committees, including chairing the Child Care Task Force which planned the Campus Preschool, as well as statewide organizations, including the SUNY Faculty Senate, where he chaired a symposium on student learning. In the community, he was involved in such organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Planned Parenthood and the Crime Victims Assistance Center.

He and his wife Patricia, assistant director of computing services, plan to move to Vermont. They have two children: Eric, who is a legal assistant to the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder, and Kristin, a BU graduate, who works in public health with the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, D.C.

Anderson says he is leaving with no regrets. “Does that mean that every experience I had was a truly positive one and I’d like to do it again,” he said. “No, I don’t think so. Meeting parents at a police station, going to the emergency room, going to funerals — there is some deep sadness that came with this job, but it was part of my duty to deal with those situations and I did it to the best of my ability.”

December 12, 2002
Volume 24, No. 15


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