Longtime Claremont McKenna College employee Dianna Graves CM ’98 has become the school’s new assistant vice president and dean of students, CMC President Hiram Chodosh announced in January.
Graves, who began her new job Jan. 18, became the head coach of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s volleyball team in 1999. Since then, she has risen through the ranks of the administration, from director of academic planning, to CMC’s liaison for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, to assistant vice president for strategic initiatives.
Graves said one of her main priorities is aligning all spheres of life at CMC: academic, residential, and extracurricular.
“We try to understand the core objectives of all the offices across campus and try to reinforce those,” she said. “We try to make it so that students can take full ownership of their experience and design things so they’re advancing their goals.”
Graves said she will also focus on advancing financial and academic resources for students who might be struggling. She wants to improve communication so that CMC students know how to access resources and find help on campus.
Vice President of Student Affairs Sharon Basso was unable to comment on Graves’ appointment before press time.
According to The CMC Forum, Basso told students at a Jan. 23 ASCMC meeting that CMC was looking for someone who was “passionate about the role and deeply invested in the success of the students” to fill the dean of students role.
Graves has received significant support from students and faculty, many of whom have known her since her undergraduate years.
Kathryn Ridenour CM ’18, who worked with Graves as president of CMC’s Model UN team, wrote in an email to TSL that she believes Graves has great potential to advance the dean of students office’s ability to reach out to students.
“At times it seems that [office] is constrained in what it is able to do for students because of greater forces at the college, such as the interests of the trustees,” Ridenour said. “I hope that [Graves] will be able to leverage her experience serving as the assistant vice president for strategic initiatives and the relationships she cultivated in that role to lessen any constraints the … office may be subject to.”
Ridenour hopes Graves will be able to cut through bureaucratic obstacles.
“In my experience, if you want to do something big, [Graves] is the person to go to to make it happen,” she said. “[Graves] knows all the ins and outs of CMC, listens to students in a way that shows she genuinely values their input, and is excellent at identifying which strings to pull to bring everything together in exactly the way it needs to.”
Graves said she has remained at CMC for so long because she loves the environment and the students.
“The faculty, the staff, the other students invest in the school and one another,” she said. “I think it’s a really special place and I stay because people invested in me and I feel this obligation to pay that forward.”