One-on-one with new dean of students


Maggie Curry/Iowa State Daily

Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Vernon Hurte sits in his office his first two weeks on campus.

Maggie Curry

We sat down with Iowa State’s newest Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Vernon Hurte, who began in the position July 3.

Q: You’re coming to ISU from Virginia. What’s your first impression?

Hurte: It felt like home. I feel like Ames has its own kind of niche. Our first visit was to Des Moines. It has a similar feel to Knoxville, I used to work at University of Tennessee in Knoxville. William and Mary is in Williamsburg, Virginia. It feels a little bit like Williamsburg, a little more of a city feel, but it felt like home.

I was very impressed with campus. I’m coming from an institution that put a lot of focus on community, and really have connections, and that community flowing not just among the student population but the whole campus community being connected. I was very impressed during my interview process that as I was moving about I would just speak to students.

There was a story in the [Iowa State Daily] right around that time about people not speaking, so I was sensitive to it. So I just started speaking to folks and just kind of seeing what the interaction was, and I was really presently surprised that in such a large institution, there still was a feeling of community and connectedness and that really kind of sold me, a lot.

Q: In your own words, what is your job?

Hurte: Being the student’s dean. I like the whole idea of being the student’s dean. I see the role of the Dean of Students, and particularly the way I do the role, as to help provide support, services to students that at the end of the day is designed to help every student flourish. One of the worst things I think you can hear is a student say “I just survived.” My goal is that we help to create a campus community and create opportunities for every student to be able to flourish and thrive while at Iowa State.

Q: What are some of your goals?

Hurte: Immediately is to get to know the campus. To hear from students, faculty, staff, colleagues, what are the issues, where are opportunities. I’ve been doing that the two weeks I’ve been here so far, meeting faculty and staff colleagues. As I’ve had the opportunity in passing to chat with students, it’s been a good opportunity to hear what students are thinking about. I’m excited about the fall, to be able to engage with more students.

One of the things I’m hoping to do in the fall semester is a listening tour, to get the opportunity to get out and connect with students and hear more about what students are seeing as critical issues. One of the areas I hope my leadership will be able to impact is around climate, and that sense of inclusion.

A good deal of my work in terms of my higher-ed experience has been around diversity and inclusion. That’s an area I’m hoping to work collaboratively to make impact. The last 13 years my work has included everything from diversity and inclusion to Title IX to academic enrichment programs to working with international student populations.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

Hurte: I love to work out, and watch T.V. A lot of politics, and probably my favorite show is King of the Hill.

Q: Do you have pets?

Hurte: Yes, I have one dog. A 125 lb honey Corso, his name is Ceasar.

Q: When you were a kid, what was your dream job? What happened?

Hurte: An aerospace engineer. I really became interested in relationships, I wanted to work more with people.

Q: Do you follow sports?

Hurte: Mostly college sports.

Q: Will you be at the Cyclone games?

Hurte: Of course, no doubt about it.

Q: What about superheroes?

Hurte: Not really. If I was, it’d be Batman.

Q: If you had the chance to relive a day or event, what would it be?

Hurte: My partner and I spect almost two weeks in Maui about three summers ago. I would redo that, in a heartbeat.

Q: Feel-good food?

Hurte: Chicken.

Q: Guilty pleasure?

Hurte: Sweets. I love sweets. I found the barbecue place, Hickory Park, we’ve been there a couple times. Pretty dangerous. That is my thing, I love sweets, all kinds of sweets.

Hurte arrives at ISU after 13 years of service at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, including recent positions as assistant to the vice president, senior associate dean of students and director of the Center for Student Diversity, according to Inside Iowa State.

Hurte told the Daily previously he was ready to be student-centered.

“I want to spend time with students and find out how they feel about the campus,” he said. “I want all students from all backgrounds to feel that sense of belonging.”

Part of Hurte’s position replaces former Dean of Students Pamela Anthony, who served as Iowa State’s dean of students from August 2012 to January 2016. Anthony died in Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 17, 2017 after a short battle with lymphoma.

His position didn’t exist before his arrival. You can read more about Hurte’s position in our previous article.