Behaunek position change initiates search for new Dean of Students


Courtesy of Simpson College

Luke Behaunek will be leaving his position as Dean of Students and will be moving to his new role as Director of Institutional Effectiveness June 1. He will be completing his seventh year as Dean of Students and fifteenth year with Simpson concluding spring of 2021.

by Ethan Humble, Staff Reporter

Luke Behaunek will be stepping down as Dean of Students and moving into the new role of Director of Institutional Effectiveness with Simpson effective June 1.

Vice President for Student Development and Planning Heidi Levine is very involved in the process by both chairing the search committee for a new Dean of Students and supervising Behaunek’s new position.

Levine said that although the college has had somebody doing institutional research on a part-time basis before, it will be new to have a full-time Director of Institutional Effectiveness.

“We created this position because the work that this person does is so critical to helping us really make sure that we are functioning effectively,” Levine said. “We want to make sure we are using all the data we have available to us to guide us and make good institutional decisions.”

Behaunek was a candidate for the position when it was first posted and was one of the finalists in a very competitive search.

“The cabinet decided that rather than wanting a new search, we had a really outstanding candidate who was in the pool back then and was still interested,” Levine said. “We made that offer to Luke, and with this particular academic year and all the things related to COVID, we decided we would hold off on him moving into that new role until after this academic year.”

As for the Dean of Students search, Levine said it all began with discussing the position’s duties within the college.

“We wanted somebody who had good experience and knowledge about student development and student affairs, had effective communication skills both in writing and in speaking, and could demonstrate basic skills and experience in dealing with crisis intervention,” she said. “Similarly, we wanted someone who is thoughtful about using data of different types to help formulate decisions.”

Levine said that after updating the position description, the search committee began having discussions with potential candidates.

“We identified eight candidates in whom we were interested in having an initial conversation and by the end of this week [March 26], we hope to identify three finalists that we will invite to a much fuller interview,” she said. “There will then be opportunities to meet with staff, faculty, community advisors and other student leaders.”

Levine is hoping to have sessions where the candidates are invited to do presentations on topics of their choosing and open question and answer sessions to invited members of the campus community.

Behaunek is currently serving in his seventh year as Dean of Students and fifteenth year at the institution.

“It has certainly been a rewarding experience with all the relationships I have built with students, staff members, fellow colleagues within the division and students,” Behaunek said. “I am especially proud of the work that we have done around building inclusivity within the college in a number of ways.”

Specifically, designing and implementing gender-inclusive housing and a bias response policy are things Behaunek says will sustain after his departure from the position.

“Anyone who steps into this role is going to have a passion for student life on campus and a real care for students and their well-being,” Behaunek said. “I would encourage them to let that show in whatever ways they can.”

Community Advisor Mac Roush admires Behaunek’s ability to deal with difficult scenarios daily.

“Luke is very dependable and reliable, and he helps open your eyes to different perspectives that you might not necessarily see from your own biases,” he said.

The senior is impressed by the way that Behaunek carries himself despite all the scrutiny that he faces in the position.

“He is put in a tough position on an hourly basis, and the way he is able to handle that and still maintain professionalism through a variety of different jobs is impressive,” he said. “It is definitely not an easy job, and it comes with a lot of trials, tribulations, and blame, but the job does come with a great deal of significance.”