For Dean Eric, A New Gig in A Familiar Place
Eric Vos, Claremont McKenna College’s newest Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life, just can’t seem to get enough of Claremont. Raised minutes from campus, Vos has ties to CMC that reach far deeper than the average applicant. His mother and his father---Dean Richard Vos, current Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid---have worked at CMC since Vos was a kid. “At first, the idea of working at CMC was surreal,” says Vos. “I had such a categorized childhood around CMC.” As a boy, Vos attended summer basketball camps held at CMC and even got his first summer job working at the Athenaeum. Clearly, no one is doubting Vos' love for all things CMC. A graduate of Middlebury College, Vos felt similar to most recent college graduates. “I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go professionally,” says Vos. Remarking on his experience as a student Resident Assistant, however, triggered what Vos calls his “Aha!” moment, and he quickly realized his passion for Student Affairs. Vos went on to become a Hall Director at Middlebury, where he oversaw a set of residence halls on campus and supervised RAs. After two years, he continued on to Northwestern University for a Masters in Higher Education Administration. Vos then moved to Iowa for a “Masters-level hall director” position at Grinnell College. After tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend last summer, Vos moved back east to Vermont where he was a counselor at an alternative therapeutic school for at-risk teens.
About five years ago, Vos reached out to Dean Jeff Huang, Vice President for Student Affairs at CMC, for career and graduate school advice while visiting his family in Claremont. “We struck up a relationship,” says Vos and when the Assistant Dean of Students position became available last spring, Huang contacted Vos to gauge his interest in the role. After applying and interviewing, Vos was offered the job and he accepted it.
When asked what attracted him most to this work, Vos said he felt most excited about “the opportunity to build really deep relationships with people at such a critical period in their lives.” As an RA, Vos says he felt a strong connection with college students as he was able to be part of “the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly” of their undergraduate experience. “There’s kind of an excitement and an allure with the unexpected reality that is working with college students,” says Vos. “It’s not cookie cutter work.”
His work at CMC certainly won’t be. As Assistant Dean of Students, Vos oversees everything that happens in the residence halls from a student living perspective and supervises the RAs. With this year’s housing crunch already up for discussion, Vos will have a lot on his plate. Over the summer, Fawcett and Auen study lounges were converted into two female quads in order to make space for the overwhelming number of freshmen and returning students, thus denying the CMC community of two public study spaces in South Quad. Vos has already made plans to discuss the resulting lack of open study spaces on campus, which he calls “concerning.” Vos also hopes to convene the CMC Housing Committee and use the group as a resource for student feedback on a number of issues, including gender-neutral housing.
In his first year, though, Vos wants to focus on building strong relationships with the RA team as well as the rest of the student community. “I’m trying to take this year to observe and get to know what works well and find out what students think needs improvement,” says Vos. He is hoping to maintain an “open door policy” with CMC students and be a visible presence at student events on campus.
Most of all, Vos, or “Dean Eric” as he prefers, is just plain excited for his new gig. “In a way, there’s kind of this added motivation for me to give back a little to the institution that was always so great to me and my family growing up,” says Vos. “CMC has always been very near and dear to my heart.” We believe you.