Dean of Students candidates visit campus: Kristin Kushmider

By Jillian Poland

News Editor

By Christina Fazio

Staff Writer

A candidate for the Dean of Students position answered questions from the FSU community in two open forums held on Oct. 23 in the Alumni Room.

The candidate, Kristin Kushmider, is the current dean of students at the University of Colorado Denver.

Prior to being Dean of Students, Kushmider was an intervention coordinator at the University of Colorado Boulder, a student behavior case manager at both the Boulder and Denver campuses and the director of the Office of Case Management and Campus Assessment, Response and Evaluation (CARE) team at UC Denver. 

Kushmider said she did not follow the “traditional” student affairs career path. Instead of beginning her career as a resident assistant or a hall director, she took an interest in helping people in crisis.

“I was working as a victims’ advocate for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence when I graduated with my undergraduate degree,” she said. 

Kushmider began working as a graduate assistant in the Dean of Students office while getting her Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision at the University of Northern Colorado in Greely. “I absolutely fell in love. There was no turning back,” she said. “So that’s how I landed in higher ed.”

While working as the director of the Office of Case Management and CARE team at UC Denver in 2013, Kushmider was asked if she would be willing to take on the dean of students role “no questions asked,” she said.

Kushmider was interim dean from 2014 to 2015 and has been the acting dean since 2015.

A forum intended solely for students was held at 9:30 a.m. Six students attended and sat in a circle with Kushmider to ask questions and to hear her explain her qualifications.

Students shared their concerns about the hate crimes on campus. When asked what her experience was dealing with bias incidents, Kushmider said since she does not work on a residential campus, she hasn’t had experience handling a similar incident.

“For us, it’s been more about responding to things that are happening nationally,” she continued. As part of this response, UC Denver worked to create a community response team of faculty and students trained in facilitating community dialogues at open forums and public discussions.

“I don’t have a specific answer on how to move forward other than some of the things that you all have talked about that your campus community is doing. Moving forward with a campaign or taking an activist approach to make sure people understand that there is an expected behavior of civility among students on campus and that certain behaviors are not to be tolerated, or to facilitate dialogue around what may have prompted that, are helpful. … So, really taking an active role,” she said. 

A forum open to the entire campus community was held at 1:30 p.m. Approximately 30 people came to ask questions and hear Kushmider speak.

Kushmider told attendees she was the ideal candidate because she has the ability to find great ideas that allow her to approach the job from a new perspective.

“I’m not the best at coming up with my own ideas, but I’m good at taking others’ great ideas and implementing them,” she added.

Kushmider said she sees this position as a great opportunity to expand on skills she already has and hopes to get involved with students early on. “I’m here today because I’m really looking to add to and diversify my experience.”

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