Pomona College President David Oxtoby announced in a Nov. 23 email that Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum will go on sabbatical for the spring 2016 semester. According to the email, Feldblum requested a research sabbatical last year in order to investigate the impact of immigration on higher education.
Feldblum said that the research relates to her work as a dean at Pomona.
“Over the past number of years, I have been really focused on the experience of first- and second-generation students in higher education at college, at Pomona, also around the ways in which policies and infrastructure can help support undocumented students,” Feldblum said.
Feldblum said that there are two parts to her research: developing an inventory of how immigration policy affects higher education and using that inventory to make policy recommendations to colleges and universities on the role they can play in the national conversation on immigration reform.
“There’s been a lot of research on, and a growing field of research on, the experiences of immigrant students in higher education, but not so much the impacts of policy on higher education,” Feldblum said. “We have a lot of colleges and universities and higher education associations who’ve said they support comprehensive immigration reform, but the specifics aren’t really there.”
During Feldblum's sabbatical, Associate Dean of Students Jan Collins-Eaglin will serve as the acting dean of students, and Adriana di Bartolo, director of the Queer Resource Center (QRC), will fill Collins-Eaglin's role as acting associate dean.
“At the Queer Resource Center, staff member Al Forbes will serve as Acting Director of the Queer Resource Center, and Student Affairs will hire additional temporary staff to support the QRC during this period,” Oxtoby wrote in his email to the student body.
Di Bartolo said that she will still supervise the QRC in her new role.
“My goal when I’m in the office is for students to feel that they can come in that space and they can continue to receive the same support and care that they need,” di Bartolo said. “Also, my goal whenever I enter a new space is to bring some joy. I want to make sure that we keep light in the office and that it feels like a good and welcoming space.”
Collins-Eaglin said that even though she and Feldblum may have different work styles, they share the same goals. Student Affairs is focusing on the issues of diversity, mental health and revising the sexual assault policy and procedures, and Collins-Eaglin said that she will continue to focus on these issues.
“I focus on the diversity and mental health piece and on programs that help students dialogue with each other and listen to each other, then also to talk about what is healing and how we can be a healthier campus. That is really a priority for me,” Collins-Eaglin said.
As associate dean of students for personal success and wellness, Collins-Eaglin has focused on improving mental health support for students.
“She already plays such a leading role in student mental health and wellness and diversity issues,” Feldblum said. “It’s always hard to shift roles and to manage expectations so I’m hoping it’s an exciting adventure and people really support her.”
Feldblum also said that the dean of students will continue to focus on issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity in the coming months.
“This has been a top priority for student affairs that we identified in June of last year,” Feldblum said. “We’ve been looking at the call to action that students had last year. We have a really good group in Student Affairs to look at how we should implement the strategic diversity plan and respond to students’ needs and the call to action. I think the most effective changes are ones made in collaboration with faculty and students.”
According to Collins-Eaglin, she and Feldblum will work together to ensure that the transition is smooth. Collins-Eaglin said that she already has a sense of what the job is, especially since she and Feldblum already work closely together.
“My whole management team is really committed to pulling together and working together so you won’t even notice that I’m gone,” Feldblum said.