Jason Campbell-Foster Appointed BU Dean of Students
He assumes the role he’s held on an interim basis since July 2022 and aims to be an innovative leader for Terriers
Jason Campbell-Foster will serve as Boston University’s next Dean of Students, assuming a role he’s held on an interim basis since July 2022, the University announced Thursday. Campbell-Foster emerged as the top candidate after a competitive, yearlong national search.
“I am deeply humbled by the responsibility that has been given to me,” he says. “If you had told the 13-year-old me, growing up in rural New York, selling chrysanthemums with my grandfather, that I would one day become the Dean of Students at a world-class institution of higher education, I would have assumed you had the wrong person and directed you to my classmate down the road.
“The truth is, I am a product of all the people, places, and lessons that I have encountered along the way. Every loss, gain, triumph, and trial has prepared me for this moment. The opportunity to create those support systems for others, that were in place for me, is the greatest honor.”
Campbell-Foster joined BU as senior associate dean of students in 2019—a role that quickly expanded with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he oversaw the University’s student-centered response. Following the departure of Kenneth Elmore in 2022, Campbell-Foster stepped into the Dean of Students office on an interim basis and quickly established himself as an innovative leader in the role. He expanded professional development opportunities for staff and engaged deeply with students across myriad events.
Prior to BU, Campbell-Foster held a variety of leadership roles during his 14 years at nearby Northeastern University, where he rose to associate dean of student affairs.
“Through both his service in the interim role and our lengthy discussions throughout his candidacy, it was clear that Jason’s energy and relatable personality, his 20-plus years of experience in student affairs and managing large, complex teams, and his strong belief in the potential of student services to make a powerful, positive difference in students’ lives suit him especially well for this position,” wrote Jean Morrison, University Provost and Chief Academic Officer, in a message to the BU community.
Campbell-Foster was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and his early experiences inform his empathetic approach to students, and the field of student affairs more broadly. Raised by his aunt and uncle after losing both parents in a tragedy when he was 15, Campbell-Foster says he “went through what many of our students go through, in terms of early-life struggles and wondering whether or not you’re capable of and able to achieve the things you want to.”
He attended the State University of New York at Fredonia as an undergraduate and credits the student affairs staff there with instilling in him the confidence to reach for more.
“I was the kind of student who wanted to be under the radar—who wanted to not necessarily be seen or noticed—but really needed help,” Campbell-Foster says. “Those caring individuals helped me feel a part of something larger, they helped me persist through school, and through all the challenges that were there.”
When it came time to graduate, Campbell-Foster says he was casting about for what he wanted next, when one of his trusted advisors suggested that he would make a great fit in student affairs, himself.
He took the advice to heart. He earned a master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Canisius University (formerly Canisius College) in 2005, and then a doctorate in higher education administration from Northeastern University in 2017.
Campbell-Foster knows he has a big job ahead of him. He already has plans to hire more administrative staff (including for a new role—director of student services) to expand and centralize support services for students. He’s eager to hire staff and build out programming for the recently announced LGBTQIA+ Student Resource Center, and to put a fresh spin on University traditions. On the latter, he’s gotten a head start: this year’s Senior Breakfast, an annual pre-commencement tradition, featured extra seating and a livestream of the event in the George Sherman Union food court, for students who couldn’t make it to the ballroom.
“Where BU is incredibly well positioned, I think, is that student affairs is of a very high importance to University leadership,” Campbell-Foster says. “I have a seat at some of the high administrative tables around here. And that signals that this University takes very seriously the experiences and the ideas of our students, and places their chief student affairs officer at the table where decisions are made.”
In the midst of all this, Campbell-Foster is also looking forward to spending time with his family. His husband, Mark, and their son, Orion, help to keep him grounded in what can be a fast-moving and challenging role, he says.
“My family encourages me to slow down and prioritize what’s really important to me without losing sight of the important work that’s happening from a career perspective,” he says.