Cyndy Fitzgerald, formerly dean of LIOS Graduate College, took over as Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services at the beginning of November. Originally from Sacramento, California, she received her PhD in Applied Behavioral Science/Higher Education Leadership from Azusa Pacific University in 2007. We sat down with Cyndy for a few questions about her new role at Saybrook.
You took over as Dean of Enrollment Management & Student Services at the beginning of November. How is this position different than your previous one?
The scope of this role is extremely broad in terms of serving the students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the University beyond what was involved in my role as Dean of LIOS Graduate College of Saybrook University. With this expansion comes a significantly greater workload that includes far more travel, meeting time, and effort to care for and coordinate resource staff in their efforts to support students and to develop systems with clear policies and procedures in compliance with federal regulations. An additional component and challenge involves striving to assess and develop best practices to improve communication, and where appropriate, cross-train staff, in the midst of the restructuring and multiple adjustments and impact of those changes.
What does your average day look like?
Non-stop from morning to night—an average day would be an anomaly—just watch Dan Sewell and I spin as we strive to meet multiple ongoing needs and develop positive and helpful new procedures, draft policies, help define clear goals, and provide care and support for people. My colleagues suggest that I note, this includes weekends—Generally, I start the day with some yoga stretches and morning meditation time to focus before I head out the door, and then from early morning to often late at night I’m reading emails, listening to people, engaged in meetings, having phone consultations, writing proposals and editing documents, and responding to needs and concerns. At some point in the evening, I pause to paint and play the piano—or laugh with my family and friends before stretching out again to release tension and unwind before tucking in for the night.
What called you to this new position?
As the University restructuring process became a necessity, this position was offered as a way to assist and improve Saybrook on multiple levels and to apply my background and strengths to help Saybrook with the goal of improving support services for our students. My own passion and calling in education and health focuses on components that are in sync with those needs, and so I agreed to become Dean of Enrollment Management and Student Services, realizing that the tasks involved are enormous and that the development will be a process which will require not only my energy but the strengthening and support of all of our people over time.
What do you hope to get out of this position?
My hope is to foster a culture of care, social justice, integrity, and inclusion in the Saybrook system. In addition, my hope is that as I strive to actualize this way of living and being with colleagues we can collectively influence other systems along positive trajectories for growth and change.
What do you think of the changes taking place at Saybrook?
The challenges within the Saybrook system are enormous. As a systems thinker and compassionate person who strives to listen and care for others with integrity, I think the changes taking place call for great skill and mindful practices and the checking of intention and impact before taking action.
What are your goals for your new position and the school?
My goal is that Saybrook becomes a university that truly promotes healthy, just and sustainable systems in the universe and that Saybrook faculty, staff, students, and alumni from all four schools model integrity, care, and compassion in our practices with each other and those with whom we come in contact in our educational process and in the work we engage in throughout the world.