senior class dean, talks to seniors about their personal challenges,
academic records, postgraduate options, and academic goals.
'06 Class Dean Sad to See the Seniors Go
student’s academic problems are caused by something not-so-academic.
As a class dean, David Phillips spends much of his time advising students -
discussing academic, social, and personal challenges and achieving personal
goals. He’ll work with individual students, professors and even parents, to
support students in their pursuit of a positive learning experience.
"What I like about my job
is that I get to deal with the whole student rather than just a particular
aspect of a student’s life,” Phillips says. “That’s our mission as class
deans. We want to get to know them on an academic and personal level.”
Phillips, associate dean
of the college and dean for the Class of 2006, oversees about 725 students
in his class. He’s a source of information on academic standing; major
choices; graduation requirements; university policies and procedures; and
services, opportunities and resources available at the university and
surrounding Middletown community.
As this year’s senior class dean, Phillips certifies students for
graduation. He talks to the seniors about their academic records,
postgraduate options and preparing themselves for life after Wesleyan. He
runs an audit on every student to insure they have 32 credits and meet other
“Each student’s credit analysis is about five pages long, so I go through a
stack of papers about two feet high,” Phillips says, smiling. “It’s exciting
to know that these students will be graduating soon and they will go off and
begin their life-long careers.”
The New Haven, Conn.
native has a special bond with the international community. Phillips, whose
father worked for the State Department, considers himself an “international
student” having lived in Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand and
India before returning to the States for college.
Some seniors he knows only through phone calls and e-mails, but others he sees
on a regular basis during daily drop-in hours.
“I wish more would come by and say hello,” he says. “I get to meet a lot of
the students that way.”
Class of 2006 president Pacho Carreno is a frequent visitor in the Dean’s
Office. Phillips helped Carreno prepare for his post-Wesleyan career, at a
real estate consulting firm in Boston.
“Dean Phillips has been my most helpful academic advisor at Wesleyan,”
Carreno says. “His advice has enhanced my experience and has helped me to
take advantage of the best that Wesleyan has to offer. I'm ready to graduate
but I wish I could have an advisor like him guiding me through the real
Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, says as senior class dean, Phillips is
instrumental in helping students complete their educational pathways at
Wesleyan and as they move out into careers.
"David has a deep knowledge of Wesleyan's students and the curricular
requirements,” she says. “He is insightful, supportive, a problem-solver
by-excellence and loves his advising role.”
Phillips came to Wesleyan six years ago as the associate dean of the college
and dean for the class of 2006. It is his first administrative job, but his
background in social history, cultural studies, and the history of
technology makes him an ideal advisor for students with interests across the
Phillips earned his bachelor’s of art in photography and printmaking and his
master’s of art, in comparative social history from the University of
California Santa Cruz. He earned his Ph.D in American studies from Yale
University. His dissertation is titled
"Art for Industry’s Sake: Halftone Technology, Mass photography, and the
Social transformation of American Print Culture 1880-1920.”
Prior to Wesleyan, Phillips worked as an assistant professor at Bennington
College; a site editor for the Center for Electronic Projects in American
Culture Studies at Georgetown University; a teaching fellow at Yale’s
American Studies Program; assistant director of the Asian American Cultural
Center at the Yale University; and a Web developer for the Gilder Lehrman
Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.
In 2004, he taught a class on mass culture titled "The Culture Industry" for
Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies Program.
"I enjoy teaching, but I really love being a class dean because you get to work with real
people who have real issues in need of real solutions," he says.
Next year, Phillips will become the first-year dean, as part of the Office
of the Dean’s class management system implemented in 2004. He will stay with
this class throughout their four years at Wesleyan.
“With Dave's leadership we’re planning ways to enhance the first year
experience,” Cruz-Saco says. “His position is at the moment more challenging
that usual: helping seniors graduate, while at the same time, planning the
transition for incoming students next year.”
summer, Phillips will acclimate himself to the new student orientation
program, but during his time off, he plans to continue learning guitar,
develop online projects related to American studies and social history,
and going for walks at the
Portland reservoir with his wife Christina and his dog Lucky.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection