Dean of students chooses adventure, takes Cyclone spirit to Dallas


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Pamela Anthony, Dean of Students, will move to Dallas to work as the vice president for student affairs at Southern Methodist University in mid-January.

Christie Smith

It was a sense of adventure, she said, that took her on a 5,279-mile car ride over 11 days from Georgia to her new job in Fairbanks, Ala.

Although she eventually chose her adventure at Iowa State, Pamela Anthony, the outgoing dean of students, said it was a slightly unusual journey that first brought her to Cyclone country.

Anthony grew up in Virginia and attended James Madison University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology.

However, she was much more interested in the student experience — her time spent as a resident adviser and sorority member standing out in her mind — than in her chosen major, and she found herself at the University of Georgia pursuing a master’s degree in student personnel and higher education.

After earning her graduate degree, Anthony found an open position at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and packed her car.

“I’ve always been an adventurous girl,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want to ever look back on my life and wonder ‘what if?’”

During her time in Alaska, where the nearest Wal-Mart was more than 300 miles away, Anthony worked as a residence hall director and then as the university’s very first coordinator of multicultural student affairs.

Anthony said she eventually had enough of the cold and moved back to Georgia, where she stayed for 12 years, serving as the director of student activities at Spelman College and then as the assistant dean of students at Georgia State.

After finishing her doctorate at Georgia State, Anthony was ready to leave Atlanta in pursuit of the next step in her career.

Anthony said she saw the listing for the dean of students position at Iowa State three times before finally deciding to apply.

“I truly believe nothing in life happens on accident,” Anthony said, although she still had doubts about the job. “[I thought], ‘who moves to Iowa?’”

Despite Anthony’s hesitation toward the Midwest, she agreed to come to Ames for an interview in April 2012.

“That was a trick!” Anthony laughed, referring to the beautiful weather and spring foliage Iowa State is known for at that time of year. “I came on campus and I was sold!”

Ever since she accepted the job in July 2012, Anthony said she embraced Cyclone country and everything it had to offer.

“I’ve always [thought] ‘life is an adventure,’” Anthony said. “So this whole adventure theme at Iowa State, I was like, ‘oh yes! I totally resonate with the sense of adventure.’”

Anthony said the energy on campus consumed her. She remembered seeing students hanging out on Central Campus, decked out in their cardinal and gold, and she felt like she could be a Cyclone, too.

“When I got here, there’s just such a pride about being a Cyclone, it’s infectious!” Anthony said.

Anthony called her friends back home to tell them she had found more in Iowa than just cornfields, and she said they were all jealous of the videos she posted to Facebook of her joining the fans at Jack Trice in singing “Sweet Caroline.”

“They would say, ‘That looks so fun!’” Anthony remembered.

In addition to her love and support for sports and other student activities, Anthony immediately got to work in her new position.

First, Anthony set out to fill multiple vacancies in her management team. Then, Anthony worked to create a good work environment for that team.

In an effort to build cohesiveness and efficiency, Anthony began organizing team building activities, meetings and annual retreats.

“I’m really proud of the synergy and cohesiveness of the team that I’ve been able to develop since I’ve been here,” Anthony said. “And that’s not just me, it takes everyone to participate.”

Anthony also created an assessment plan for learning outcomes for students to assess the out-of-classroom experience at Iowa State.

“How do we take what we’re trying to teach [students] now and make them life-long lessons?” Anthony asked of her team.

In addition to the goals Anthony set for herself and her team, she maintained the typical functions of the Dean of Students Office.

Anthony said her office functions as the “principal’s office” at Iowa State, where she serves the role as a conduct appeal officer who decides the fate of students who have committed offenses such as plagiarism.

She also handles crisis and emergency management. The hardest part of her job, she said, has been contacting families when a student has died.

“No matter how many times you do it, it’s still hard,” Anthony said.

Anthony dedicated herself to serving students through mentoring and public speaking opportunities.

“When I think about being an undergraduate student, there were so many women leaders who I looked up to, so I take that role very seriously,” Anthony said.

Hillary Kletscher, graduate student in business administration and former Student Government president, said she has benefitted from Anthony’s mentorship throughout her time as an undergraduate student, student government official and now as a graduate student.

“Dean Anthony is really an incredible leader,” Kletscher said. “She really knows how to involve everyone and make everyone feel welcome.”

Kletscher, who will be speaking at Anthony’s reception Tuesday afternoon, met with Anthony monthly while working with student government for one-on-one mentoring and then again on the Veishea task force while trying to weigh the future of the once-loved student celebration.

“One of the things I’ve always admired about her is her emphasis on taking care of every single student,” Kletscher said. “To Dean Anthony, every student is important, and no student is more important than another.”

In her pursuit to shape the student experience, Anthony is leaving Ames to take the next step in her career — the vice president for student affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“There’s a sense of camaraderie here in the student experience that I’ve not really found anywhere else,” Anthony said. “That’s difficult to walk away from because it’s so positive.”

Although Anthony said she will miss Cyclone country, adding she looks forward to the warm weather in Dallas and the opportunity to jump on the Cowboys bandwagon.

“It’s time for me to start a new adventure,” Anthony said.

Anthony’s last day on campus will be Wednesday. A reception will take place for her from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. The reception will be free and open to the public.