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New Assistant Dean Focuses on the ‘Student’ in ‘Student Affairs’

Mary Kelm, the new assistant dean for academic and student affairs, says: “When I saw this position advertised, I felt that everything I’ve done in my career would come into play here.”
[second-year student Kelly Morgan and Mary Kelm]
Mary Kelm (right) speaks with second-year student Kelly Morgan.

That’s saying a lot. Her career, primarily in academic advising and learning assistance, has taken her to large and small, public and private Illinois educational institutions, starting at the University of Chicago and ending as an independent consultant and including 10 years at Concordia University in River Forest, Ill.

The one constant throughout her work has been a focus on the student.

“Students need support and assistance no matter where they are,” she says. She is as confident in her ability to meet those needs as she is excited about learning the particulars of life at a veterinary college.

Her new duties will range from recruiting a diverse student body, advising prospective and current students, overseeing the admissions cycle, working with undergraduate college advisors throughout the state, and planning activities such as first-year orientation. She’ll also work with student organizations and begin a lunchtime discussion series to increase the sense of community at the College.

“Because of her background, she just fit right into the job we have,” says Dr. Gerald Pijanowski, associate dean for academic and student affairs. In addition to her breadth of experience in academic and student services, Kelm also put in stints in the public education departments of both the Brookfield and the Lincoln Park zoos.

Ryan Zinke, a second-year veterinary student, served on the search committee that selected Kelm.

“I was very impressed when I first met Mary Kelm,” he says. “She has a very pleasant and outgoing personality and a great sense of humor. This is key. Mary is approachable and willing to do what she can to help students.”

“My talents are best used working directly with students and faculty in eclectic ways,” says Kelm. “I am going to learn a ton. I love the challenge.”

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