After a national search, Pitzer College found its new dean of students just across the street from its campus.
Claremont McKenna College’s Associate Dean of Students for Diversity & Inclusion and Residential Life Vince Greer will be leaving CMC to fill the Pitzer position on Dec. 1 after a tenure of over five years, Sharon Basso, CMC vice president for student affairs, announced to the CMC community on Oct. 29.
In the email, Basso called Greer “a linchpin of our team” at the CMC Dean of Students Office.
“Vince’s steady, thoughtful, compassionate, and insightful style has been a magnet for our students and staff,” Basso said.
Greer told TSL that his deep connection with the CMC community made it difficult to apply for the Pitzer job.
“I’ve enjoyed my time so much here at CMC and it was a really difficult decision to put myself in the running,” Greer said. “I’ve always said whenever my time wrapped up at CMC, the one thing I can assure is that I would not go to any of the other colleges … I’m learning more and more because I’m having more of these moments in my life to never say never.”
But Greer said he’s glad that his new job will keep him in Claremont.
“I could not see myself walking away from … the larger Claremont community,” Greer said.
Greer added that he never predicted that he would be taking the job at Pitzer. Aside from not planning to take on a job at another member of the 5Cs, Greer didn’t expect the hiring process for the Pitzer job to be so fast.
“When we started this academic year, I didn’t even know there was an opening,” Greer said. When he found out about the job and applied, he said, “I honestly didn’t think that I had much of a shot.”
Greer’s new position became available after former Pitzer Dean of Students Sandra Vasquez was promoted to the position of vice president of student affairs. The former vice president of student affairs, Mike Segawa, left Pitzer in May.
In the span of just a few months, Greer threw his hat in the ring, went through three rounds of interviews and accepted the job.
“All of this has happened [over] the fall semester, so when I say it’s been an aggressive timeline, that’s exactly what it’s been,” Greer said.
While at Pitzer, Greer hopes to take a “learn-first” mentality. He won’t be looking to make big changes until he understands how the community works, he said.
That philosophy extends to COVID-19 policies as well.
“I want to learn the methods of Pitzer first,” Greer said. “[The college’s policies have] obviously worked up to this point. So I don’t want to come in and reinvent the wheel when things have been working.”
Greer plans to continue to use his strong connections at CMC during his time at Pitzer. In fact, he thinks his background at another 5C is one of the reasons Pitzer chose to hire him for his new role.
“We’re in a consortium for a reason,” Greer said. “And while we all operate autonomously in terms of the respective colleges, we work close enough with each other that it makes sense to have synergy there.”
Greer joined CMC in July 2016 as the inaugural dean for diversity and inclusion and director of the CARE Center, which has grown exponentially under Greer’s advising. Greer cites it as one of his biggest accomplishments at CMC.
After his first year at CMC, Greer was quickly promoted to his current role in 2017. Greer held 7C leadership positions as co-chair of the 7C Committee on Inclusive Excellence in the 2017-18 and 2019-20 academic years.
Since the beginning of his time at CMC, Greer said, the college has put much more of an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“We’ve made a significant amount of progress” since 2016, Greer said. “And this is not to say that it wasn’t a priority of the college [in 2016], but I think it wasn’t [at the] level that it is now.”
Greer used the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America as an example of a positive step that the CMC administration has taken in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) during his tenure.
But Greer also acknowledged the more significant emphasis that Pitzer puts on DEI, which made him excited to take the job.
“I’ve done a great deal of work as it relates to DEI and so being able to shift to a campus where, you know, that’s a major institutional pillar really called out to me,” Greer said.
Accepting the position at Pitzer also fulfills one of Greer’s career goals.
“When I started my work in student affairs, what felt like the mountaintop was actually a dean of students position,” Greer said.
Down the line, Greer said he hopes to make the transition to a community college, where students don’t have the same resources as those at the Claremont Colleges.
“I’ve learned so much and grown so much from working with incredible students throughout the Claremont Colleges. But the thing about it is, I know that if I left today, you all are still going to thrive,” Greer said. “If I can find a way to be influential to a community and folks [with less] access to education … that would be the most fulfilling way to sort of close out my career.”