Todd Adams will join Northwestern as the new dean of students in February and will oversee off-campus student life, conflict resolution and crisis management. He will also head up the Hazing Prevention Task Force and Community Alcohol Coalition. Adams was the senior associate dean of students at Duke University from July 2000 until late 2012.
What aspects of life at Northwestern will you be involved in?
I’ll be dealing with off-campus student affairs, student conduct, students who need assistance including crisis management. I am also working on the undergraduate council for crisis management as an advocate for students who need disability support and services. I want to get to know the community as a primary focus, but one new area is case management. We want to begin more outreach and to help students when issues arise. It doesn’t always have to be conduct-related, but just to connect the dots with resources available on and off campus.
What is the most important issue Northwestern should focus on now?
As I said, I want to spend some time first to see what Northwestern needs, but I think navigating an institution on the scale of Northwestern is a challenge for everyone. It’s especially important that the Northwestern community has access to services and resources they need—not just students, but faculty and staff as well. Northwestern needs to be a place to go when you’re in need.
You’re tackling some heavy stuff, like the Hazing Prevention Task Force and Community Alcohol Coalition. How do you plan to inject some fun into the job?
When you’re dealing with serious issues, you can’t take yourself too seriously. The excitement comes from looking for creative solutions for issues at Northwestern. It’s going to take some heavy lifting by a lot of people. By working with the students and community, it means you’re not doing it alone — that is the most exciting part.
What about your time as an undergraduate made you want to continue in education administration?
I love being around smart people doing important things. I like being around intellectual collisions, not just in a classroom or a lab as most people think, but in residences or outreach opportunities. There are so many ways to stretch yourself and experience new things in college and a good time to take risks to learn new things. That’s what most I took out of the experiences I was fortunate to have.
Is there anything about Northwestern’s culture or traditions that has made you especially eager to join the school?
I’m particularly excited after the bowl win — for Coach Fitz, the team and the school. The Big Ten was well represented. I like the enthusiasm of the whole community for what Northwestern is doing. I feel the energy being on campus and am looking forward to joining it.