USM Free Press News Feed
By Jonathan Pessant
Dean of Students Joy Pufhal has left the University of Southern Maine in search of new career challenges.
Pufhal, who has been at USM since August 2000, stated that when she began working at the university, she thought she would only be around for three years. However, she found that USM offered her a lot of room to grow and develop herself, which in turn made her want to remain as the dean of students.
Pufhal started as a graduate assistant because she needed housing while she attended the University of Maine School of Law. Within a year, Pufhal had a full-time position working in Residential Life in Portland Hall, which she claimed was an “an urban refuge for students” on Congress Street. Along the way, she challenged herself by applying for next-level positions within the university.
During her time here, she was able to progress and grow by serving as dean of students, a position held since 2013. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she held a variety of titles, including assistant director of Community Standards, chief of staff of Student and University Life, Title IX coordinator and executive director of Campus Life.
“Honestly, the opportunities that I’ve had professionally here and the ability to transition from one role to the next when I’ve needed new challenges… this is why I’ve been here sixteen years,” Pufhal stated.
Her adherence to keep challenging herself was not lost when she attained her goal of becoming a University-level Dean. Pufhal reflected that she still has at least thirty years of work ahead of her, and the challenge of a new position at a different university in a new state would be right for her career.
Many factors were integral to her decision to leave her position as dean of students. Pufhal admitted that she searched for the university-level position first, then the school and lastly the location. But she claimed she was intrigued by the prospect of working in a different part of the country, as the majority of her professional career has been at USM and in Maine.
Her new career milestone will be working as dean of Student Life at Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, MI. Her departure will leave a gap at USM, one that will be filled permanently within the year. During this time, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Nancy Griffin has hired an interim dean of students through a national registry that locates temporary high-level university positions.
The interim dean of students will be David McKenzie from California State University-Fullerton, where he was an assistant dean of students. While Griffin didn’t offer what the permanent dean of students search committee’s preferred qualifications would be, she did say McKenzie had a lot of experience with minority students. There will be a two day overlap between the deans when McKenzie begins his tenure on Aug. 1.
Sarah Holmes, assistant dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator, assured that Pufhal’s departure will give the Dean of Students Office an opportunity to do some evaluation and examine where to work together and figure out where to go from here.
“This will be a great opportunity to see what we’re doing here at USM, what we’re doing well at Student Life, and where we can improve upon,” Holmes said. She explained that at the end of the day, the most important thing is to make sure that the support which the Dean of Students Office provides for students remains uninterrupted.