“This is my 19th year working in higher education,” Dean of First Year Students Beverly Low said. “I love this job. This place is paradise for me.”
Low graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in communication and journalism from North Adams State College, now known as the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
“I thought I got an excellent education there and I was very involved,” she said. “I was the first female sports editor of the newspaper.”
Afterwards she worked at Salem State College in Massachusetts where one of her mentors, Kirk Manning, encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree in student affairs and administration, which she went on to obtain at the University of South Carolina. Low came to Colgate as Dean of First Year Students.
“People talk about the First-Year Experience,” she said. “First and foremost in that is to help the incoming class make the smoothest transition as individuals to Colgate.”
Part of this transition involves forming connections among students.
“Some of these programs put first-year students in a small group setting with students that are interested in the same things, which help them make connections,” Low said.
One of the programs that has come to fruition under Low’s direction is the Think Tank, lunch conversations held every Monday in Frank dining hall and facilitated by different professors. Other programs include life skills program tracks such as Gate 101, a leadership class, and Outdoor Connections, which emphasizes outdoor education.
“We’re always looking to improve orientation,” she said, “And working more closely with the FSEM [First-Year Seminar] program and residence hall staff.”
Low’s dedication to the Orientation and First-Year Seminar programs has allowed her to develop a close bond with students.
“I develop close working relationships with the 44 Links on the Link staff that report to me through the entire year,” she said. “Those are some folks that I would walk through fire for.”
Low considers these personal connections she has formed with the students here to be the most enjoyable part of her job.
“It’s the day-to-day stuff that’s really the best part,” she said. “It’s hard with 740 students, but I will make strong connections with a lot of them. You see a student come in as a first-year, then get to see where they are when they graduate.”
Low enjoys watching students participate in activities on campus.
“I think students getting involved in a couple of things their first year is fabulous,” she said. “Studies have shown that those students who get involved are going to better enjoy their college experience…[but] we’d rather see depth in students’ involvement rather then padding their resumes.”
Low is quite involved in the campus and community herself.
“I work very closely with several of our athletic teams in an advising capacity,” she said, “particularly women’s ice hockey. I skate and practice with the club team. I’m also the volunteer driver for SOMAC [Southern Madison County Volunteer Ambulance Corps].”
Despite being so busy, Low has made sure not to spread herself too thin.
“It’s still important to make time for yourself,” she said. “You have to think about what your priorities are. I try to honor my commitments, but I still have to balance out my calendar so I’m not overcommitted.”
Although she is a huge presence on campus, Low wishes she had more time to focus on her broader goals for Colgate’s future.
“I wish I had more conversation time with students to find out how could we work more cooperatively together,” Low concluded. “I think that my biggest wish is that the staff becomes more collaborative in working with one another.”