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Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science conference, Thomas Reid and the Sciences, Friday, October 10, The Castle

Week of 3 October 2003· Vol. VII, No. 6

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Ensuring a civil community
Elmore returns to University as new dean of students

By David J. Craig

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore Photo by Kalman Zabarsky


Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore Photo by Kalman Zabarsky


As an attorney at a Boston law firm until recently, Kenneth Elmore counseled colleges and universities on matters that he had an unusual amount of experience in for a lawyer. A former associate director of BU’s Office of Residence Life, Elmore has a deep personal interest in the legal aspects of academic, employment, and student life issues as well, and to his clients, that showed.

“My clients often would say things like, ‘I really enjoy talking to this guy because he really understands what we do, and he’s passionate about looking out for our interests,’” says Elmore.

His career came full circle recently when he returned to BU as the new dean of students. Before Elmore (SED’87) left the University in 2001 to practice law, he had served as an associate director at Residence Life for 12 years. He succeeds W. Norman Johnson, who was BU’s vice president and dean of students for 14 years before retiring this summer.

“I put a great amount of soul-searching into my decision to return to BU because I was really enjoying my law career, but this opportunity was too good to pass up,” says Elmore. “I’m glad to be back working with so many colleagues I have missed and the many I’ve kept in close contact with. I think all my colleagues at BU know that in my heart I’ve always loved the challenges of the administrative processes at a university and that eventually I would want to return.”

Building a community

The dean of students is responsible for overseeing more than 350 student organizations and directing the student services and programs of such departments as the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Career Services, the George Sherman Union, Orientation and Off-Campus Services, Judicial Affairs, Multicultural Affairs, and the Community Service Center. In addition, the staff of the dean of students is available to assist students with a wide variety of concerns and questions.

“In the most general sense, the purpose of my office is to lead the campus programs that enhance the academic, social, occupational, intellectual, cultural, and ethical development of our students,” says Elmore, who besides earning a master’s in education from SED is a graduate of Brown University and the New England School of Law. “This University is a community of scholars first and foremost, and my role is to support its academic mission by ensuring that BU also is a civil community. My goal is to be the person who makes sure students understand the tenets of community behavior so that they can be as successful outside the classroom as they are in it.”

Elmore says he will aim to increase contact between students and faculty by encouraging faculty participation in programs such as those run by the Wellness Center, the Howard Thurman Center, and the Career Services Center, as well as to facilitate more contact between his staff members and students outside of the office.

“It’s important that students know that my staff is here for them when they’ve got an issue they need help with,” says Elmore. “We’re here to listen to whatever a student’s issue is, investigate it, and do our best to find a professional at the University who can help, if we can’t help ourselves. Towards that goal, we’ll work closely with the University Service Center. I want students to look at the Office of the Dean of Students as a place not only where they can get information, but where the staff truly cares about them. Students should not feel expendable.”


Elmore has had extensive personal contact with students, and is “continually impressed with how articulate and sophisticated they are.” He wants to make himself accessible, and to that end has initiated informal chat sessions open to all students, which he will host from 2 to 4 p.m. every Friday this semester. They will be held at a different location each week; the October 3 session is on the fourth floor of Warren Towers at 700 Commonwealth Ave., and the October 10 session is in the Franklin Lounge of the Towers at 140 Bay State Road. Students are invited to stop by to discuss any ideas they have about campus life or simply to say hello.

“In the contact I’ve had with students so far, they really seem to know what they want, and are willing to listen as well,” says Elmore. “Every one of them wants this campus to be the best place it can be.”

Currently, he also is conducting a semester-long review of all his office’s departments to ensure that their programs are user-friendly for students.

Elmore was the associate director for education and training at the Office of Residence Life from 1989 to 1993 and the associate director for staff and operations from 1993 to 2001. He has practiced law in Boston for the past two years, first at the law firm of Peabody and Arnold, and subsequently at Morgan, Brown, and Joy, handling primarily labor and employment issues at colleges, universities, and nonprofit institutions.

Just as his BU administration experience helped him as an attorney, Elmore says, his legal background makes him an efficient dean, especially when consulting with the University’s Office of the General Counsel and in overseeing the Office of Judicial Affairs. “I think that my experience as a lawyer will help me know what types of questions to ask the University’s lawyers when I consult them,” he says, “and to know exactly when I should be getting them involved on an issue.”

Elmore says that Jack Weldon, the director of BU’s Office of Residence Life for the past 13 years, was chosen recently as the new associate dean of students, a position vacated this summer when Herb Ross resigned. Ross had been with the University for 27 years, 16 as associate vice president and associate dean of students.

“Jack is, hands down, the best person for the job,” says Elmore. “He’s got a wealth of experience, he’s incredibly respected around BU, he works hard, and he’s got a lot of common sense.” Weldon will supervise several departments overseen by the Office of the Dean of Students.

Elmore, who lives with his family in Lexington, is an avid basketball fan and loves to read and attend lectures. He coaches youth basketball and hockey, and volunteers for several education-related nonprofit organizations and community development agencies.


3 October 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations