Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian


New dean of students steps in to be a friendly face on campus

Terree Stevenson
Terree Stevenson with Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority Inc.

Walking into an unfamiliar office, fearing the possibility of being suspended or, even worse, expelled from school is hard to imagine.

To worry about the future, and having no idea what’s going to happen next in life is scary, especially when a new, unfamiliar school administrator is breaking the news.

Terree Stevenson, Fresno State’s new dean of students, hopes to avoid the stigma of being an unfamiliar, unknown administrator and plans to build a connection with students on campus, even when she does have to enforce school policy.

“I’ve suspended students at my former institutions and they still come up and say hi to me or give me a hug,” Stevenson said.

As the dean of students, Stevenson stands as a bridge between students and the university.

She said that a student she suspended thanked her because they knew she didn’t issue the suspension with malicious intent, but instead to give them a chance to return for the better.

“And then even in our suspension, I’ll say, if you want to return to school, call me and I’ll help,” Stevenson said. “I do that for students who have to step out because of financial reasons or personal reasons or even military. I always try to give advice, so that when it’s time for them to transition back, it’s a smooth and seamless one.”

Olga Pastor, a Fresno State student who met Stevenson at her meet and greet event, has already found her to be a welcoming presence on campus.

“She seems very likable and easy to talk to and very student-oriented,” Pastor said.

Stevenson has spent her career in higher education, as well as the majority of her own personal life, within the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States, having previously worked for seven universities located in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“Six were in Ohio, and one was in Pennsylvania. They were public, private, large, small, medium and they all just run the gamut,” Stevenson told The Collegian.

At each of these institutions, Stevenson said she made a commitment to herself to make sure that the work being done was congruent with her own philosophies.

Kent Willis, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, stated that he’s excited to work with Stevenson and that he expects she’ll be instrumental for the division of Student Affairs.

“One thing that we can really appreciate about what Terree brings to the table is her prior experience. I feel like many of the things she’s been involved in and programs that she’s been able to introduce in her prior roles will be really beneficial to Fresno State,” Willis said.

Even before her work in higher education, Stevenson found that her personal and professional interest in multicultural, diversity, equity and inclusive-based programming has always been a part of how she defines herself.

“My mom and dad were both really big on community service, so I went to rallies and did community service work, even as a little kid,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said that she’s been involved with multicultural affairs and programs professionally for over 10 years.

“Being a part of a celebration of various cultures and social identities and working with marginalized communities and underserved communities, that’s really just a part of my professional development, and it’s also a part of my personal drive as well,” she said.

With her previous experiences working towards positive community change, Stevenson said she originally wanted to go into corporate America and study law, as it was a dream of hers since she was in the third grade.

After a year of law school, Stevenson found that it wasn’t for her and it wasn’t until she worked at a local college that she realized her passion for working in higher education.

Stevenson believes her time at law school was worth experiencing nonetheless.

“I understand the challenge that comes with [feeling unsure] and what students are feeling is genuine,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson chose Fresno State because she was impressed with the opportunities that existed for students on campus.

“I wanted to be a part of [Fresno State], and working for an institution that is labeled as an ‘HSI’ or an ‘AANAPISI’ school is just another positive,” Stevenson said.

HSI stands for Hispanic-Serving Institutions and AANAPISI stands for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. Fresno State is designated as both, meaning the university provides grants and other opportunities for students who identify within these groups.

It wasn’t until Stevenson received the position at Fresno State this semester, that she moved to California. She described the cross-country move as an inexperienced obstacle she’s never had to face.

“That’s a lot, to close one position and move your entire life, almost the entire length of the country,” Stevenson said.

Though Stevenson is still getting acclimated to Fresno State, and Fresno as a whole, she said she has already begun to enjoy her life on campus.

“Everybody has been so warm and welcoming. I can’t stress that enough because that doesn’t always happen. Everybody has been offering support, and it just shows the strength of the community and how much people love being here,” Stevenson said.

She said she also hopes to continue making connections with students on campus during her time at Fresno State, showing that she’s fair and wants to work alongside them to make their college experience as beneficial as possible.

Stevenson encourages students to stop by her office, located on the second floor of the Joyal Administration Building, or to contact her email [email protected] at any time.

“Hopefully a student will see that we really do care and they’ll let us know if things are going well. I also want to hear about the challenges that a student may have, and we can sit and talk about what are some options moving forward,” Stevenson said.

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