Assistant Dean Ann Miller leaving UWS; Interview

“I was mis­taken for a stu­dent a lot; that was the year I learned the power of a name-tag”

Ann Miller in her office

Who is Ann Miller? I’m not talk­ing about The Hol­ly­wood singer and dancer from the 40’s. I mean our Ann Miller. Ann is the Assis­tant Dean of stu­dents of UWS—at least for a few more weeks. Ann is in charge of deliv­er­ing ser­vices to stu­dents focus­ing in activ­i­ties that boost their aca­d­e­mic and per­sonal devel­op­ment. She is not just doing this part of the job, “Ann works with a num­ber of stu­dent pro­grams (Lead­er­ship Pro­gram & Cer­tifi­cate, Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment, Stu­dent Ambas­sadors, Vol­un­teerism, Alter­na­tive Spring Break, and Yel­low­jacket Union) along with her work in assess­ment, CAS Stan­dards imple­men­ta­tion, and pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for Cam­pus Life. Her favorite thing about work­ing at UW-Superior is help­ing stu­dent make col­lege the expe­ri­ence they want it to be!” uwsuper.edu. As men­tioned, we will just have Ann’s ser­vices for a few more weeks. As sad as it sound, she is leav­ing this posi­tion at UWS. The Stinger went to visit Ann to get some infor­ma­tion about her expe­ri­ence help­ing stu­dents at UWS since 2007.

What was your entry position?

I started at UW-Superior in the sum­mer of 2007. My first posi­tion was Stu­dent Lead­er­ship Coor­di­na­tor, a new posi­tion at the insti­tu­tion at that time.”

Do you have some inter­est­ing mem­o­ries from that first year?

Three mem­o­ries from that first aca­d­e­mic year stick out in my mind. First, I was mis­taken for a stu­dent a lot; that was the year I learned the power of a name-tag  Sec­ond, lots of staff thought I was crazy when I moved a stu­dent work­sta­tion into my office. I do this work to help stu­dents. Why would I not want them work­ing in my space? Third, that was the first year I went on an Alter­na­tive Spring Break trip, not only was it reward­ing work, but get­ting to know 10 stu­dents over 8 days of liv­ing and work­ing together was scary and awe­some all at once. ASB (Alter­na­tive Spring Break) con­tin­ues to be one of my favorite parts of my job.”


If you have to choose a remark­able expe­ri­ence as an Assis­tant Dean of Stu­dents what would that be?

One of the best addi­tions to my job when I became Assis­tant Dean is at com­mence­ment. Dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, I am the per­son who tells grad­u­ates when to go on stage. It is a very pow­er­ful expe­ri­ence to help each UW-Superior grad­u­ate walk across that plat­form. I have inter­acted with most of them through­out their career, even if it was as sim­ple as answer­ing a ques­tion at the YU Desk, or as deeply as work­ing with them daily, and grad­u­a­tion is such a per­fect cul­mi­na­tion of those rela­tion­ships. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t be chocked up a time or two dur­ing it as well.”

What are you tak­ing with you from this experience?

One of the best lessons I have learned dur­ing the last 2 years as Assis­tant Dean is that gen­er­ally every­one on cam­pus has the stu­dents’ best inter­ests at heart. We just approach things from our dif­fer­ent lenses of expe­ri­ence and per­spec­tive and that isn’t bad. I am also going to take away a pow­er­ful prac­tice I have learned from Vicki Hajew­ski, Vice Chan­cel­lor for Cam­pus Life/Dean of Stu­dents. Stu­dents notice when we show up and they notice when we don’t. Going to ath­letic events, the­atre pro­duc­tions, intra­mural games, stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion events and senior cap­stone pre­sen­ta­tions is impor­tant. Those are the places you see stu­dents doing what they love, explor­ing their pas­sions and it is how they get to know us too.”

Why did you decided to leave the position?

I have done what I can here and it is time for a new adven­ture. I am mov­ing on as Asso­ciate Dean of Stu­dents at Drake Uni­ver­sity in Des Moines, Iowa. It is a cam­pus about dou­ble the size of UWS with a mis­sion I can really get behind. I think Drake is a place where I will be able to have a pos­i­tive impact on the stu­dents and cam­pus community.”

What should we expect from the new Assis­tant Dean of Student? 

Cur­rently, the plan is to leave the posi­tion open. Unfor­tu­nately that means some of the pro­gram­ming and admin­is­tra­tive things I am in charge of are going to be put on pause for awhile. Enroll­ment and reten­tion are chal­lenges at UW-Superior and with those chal­lenges come bud­get impli­ca­tions and one way to help the Yel­low­jacket Union bud­get right now is to hold the posi­tion vacant.”

Any last thoughts? or some­thing you would like to say to the stu­dents you helped through all this time?

I would like to thank the stu­dents at UW-Superior for help­ing shape the per­son I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am per­son­ally or pro­fes­sion­ally with­out them. I also have some phrases I would like stu­dents to remem­ber even after I’m done at UWS: Because we have always done it isn’t a good enough rea­son; some­times lead­ers have to do things they don’t want to do; fail­ure is an option as long as you learn from it; and every­thing is a learn­ing opportunity.”

Image cour­tesy of Manuel Rodriguez
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