Rich DeCapua, candidate for the dean of students position, presented at two open forums on Oct. 18th in the Alumni Room.
Rich DeCapua has been the associate dean of students at Boston College since 2013. DeCapua was the associate dean of students at Suffolk University from 2008 -2013.
A forum for student questions was held at 9:30 a.m.
All FSU community members were invited to attend the afternoon open forum, held during the universal free period, by Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development. The open forum was mostly attended by faculty and staff.
At both forums, DeCapua introduced himself as a first-generation college student raised by a single mother. When he was an undergraduate student at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, his mother, who motivated him to pursue higher education, died.
DeCapua received support from his university, especially from residence life, during this time. This began his interest in student affairs, leading to a career spanning from residence life to serving as the associate dean of students at various universities.
After introducing himself, DeCapua welcomed questions from the audiences.
Students brought up the recent hate crimes that took place on campus and asked DeCapua how he would respond to such issues if he were dean of students.
DeCapua said, “So you start talking about levels of incivility at the base level. Before we get to the hate crime level, a lot of the bias exists in microaggressions. That’s where we tend to live on a college campus. If you don’t have the programming for incoming first-year students, in terms of what this looks like, if you don’t have core curriculum in your classes that talks about these things, if you don’t have mandated programming that happens in res life, then how are we going to face this?”
The issue also came up during the afternoon forum with questions regarding inclusion and diversity.
DeCapua asked for faculty to put into perspective the mindset of FSU students who might feel unsafe due to bias incidents. “Do students who are from marginalized, vulnerable populations … feel that the institution has their back?”
David Baldwin, interim dean of students, asked what DeCapua hoped to achieve in the first 100 days in the position if he were hired.
DeCapua said he would perform a “careful assessment” and closely listen to others to determine short- or long-term goals for the University.
“The only way to do that is to listen and communicate about what is heard, and try to understand the culture as much as you possibly can,” DeCapua said.
He stressed the importance of building rapport with students and being someone they can trust, instead of a nameless, faceless person in the administration.
“Large or small, public or private – it doesn’t matter. … If you don’t take the time to look at the culture or understand it, you’re never going to be believable to the people … you work with,” DeCapua added.