Taylor Takes the Lead of SYE

Taylor Takes the Lead of SYE

Brad Hock

In five years, Interim Director of the Sophomore Year Experience and Administrative Advisor Kim Taylor has steadily climbed the steps within the Colgate University administration, most recently becoming Dean of the Sophomore Year Experience (SYE).

Five years ago, Taylor left behind a teaching position at the Hamilton Central School District to assist Dean of the Sophomore Year Experience, Interim Director of the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center and Interim International Student Advisor Raj Bellani in his work for Colgate’s SYE program.

Taylor became the Interim Director of SYE when Bellani stepped in as interim director of ALANA when former director Monica Nixon left the school in late 2006 and coordinated various democracy projects.

Last September, Taylor became the administrative advisor for the approximately 350 students who had former Associate Dean of the College Noel Bisson as an advisor.

Taylor is now one of four administrative advisors for non-incoming students (the others being Bellani, Dean of Admission Gary Ross and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Administrative Advisor Corey Landstrom).

This January, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson decided to appoint Taylor as the new Dean of the SYE.

Taylor attributes her adoption of the position as a result of the crammed schedule of Bellani, who has become ever more involved as the Interim Director of the Cultural Center.

“[Also, it is based in] the desire of Dean Johnson to solidify a position,” Taylor said.

Bellani, however, says that Taylor really was the “nexus” of the SYE and deserved, without a doubt, the status of Dean.

Taylor said that she follows a certain code to provide sophomores the best experience possible at Colgate. She sees talking with students and getting to know them and their preferences to be the most important aspect of her job. Such discussion is important, she said, because its focus may pertain individually to that student, or to their entire class year.

Taylor’s role extends beyond maximizing the benefit of sophomores. Some juniors and seniors also have Taylor as their administrative advisor.

Taylor said that, mainly, she talks to students about their plans for majoring and about the “gray opportunities” at Colgate. She tries to enhance the education of students by having them specify their personal interests and making them feel comfortable.

“I want to plug students into opportunities,” Taylor said.

The professional dinners that are held for members of the pre-law and pre-med societies are a result of Taylor’s close work with faculty and speakers.

“[Visiting alumni] show students the fruits of the liberal arts education,” Taylor said, referring to Colgate graduates who have been successful in the business world.

Additionally, Taylor has played an instrumental role in coordinating the Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C. through Colgate alumnus Jim Smith ’70, who is a big player in the D.C. non-governmental organization sphere. Taylor also organizes events such as the “Dinner and a Good Book” series and helped to plan the upcoming dodgeball tournament between the first-year and sophomore classes, even though she expressed a personal disinclination to play dodgeball.

“[Taylor was] the backbone of the SYE program,” Bellani said of Taylor’s time as coordinator and director of the SYE. “With a small school, one has many responsibilities.”

He said that she did a lot of essential behind-the-scenes work and was a center of support, strength, guidance and help.

Bellani said that Taylor is a good fit for the position because she maintains a positive relationship with students, extending back to her days of teaching in the Hamilton Central School District.

In her position at Colgate, Taylor became familiar with what Bellani notes as a “home-grown vision”: Colgate was among the first schools in the country to develop a comprehensive SYE program.

Bellani and Taylor have been to national and international conferences to present their strategy. Taylor has played a vital role in creating the foundation for Colgate’s Sophomore-Year Experience program and now, and now she has made a move, which Bellani and Johnson both see as natural, to its top.