In movies set on college campuses, the dean of students is the stern-faced killjoy who metes out punishment for freshman pranks or off-the-rails fraternity parties. He’s the bad guy.
Hallie Hunt is looking to be the good-guy dean of students. She takes over this year as head of a team dedicated to helping students by lending an ear, a hand or sometimes a little heart to get them where they need to be to succeed.
Hunt arrives at Cal State Fullerton from UC Berkeley, where she worked for six years as assistant dean of students and director of the Center for Student Conduct. She succeeds and now reports to Tonantzin Oseguera, who became associate vice president for student engagement late last year.
She is tasked with helping students who experience mental health issues, academic challenges, social and/or emotional difficulties, behavioral concerns, food insecurity, housing displacement and/or financial hardship.
As the school year got underway, Hunt was moving into a home in Placentia for herself, her attorney husband and their 4-year-old son. It’s a homecoming of sorts, since the couple met in Southern California and Hunt worked at UC Riverside.
At work, she was spending her days walking from one office to another, getting to know people from all over campus to find out what resources are available for when students start knocking on her door. “I have a name or a face and a relationship with that person where I can refer students to.”
While Hunt won’t be breaking up any fraternity parties (student organizations fall under the purview of the Student Life and Leadership office), she knows that among 40,000 students will be evictions, identity crises, violations of university policy and other problems to solve.
“It’s not always a happy-go-lucky profession,” Hunt said. “But it’s deeply gratifying when I’m able to work with a student who was really struggling and connect them to people and places on campus that will help support their success.”
Should the student conduct office refer a student caught stealing, for example, the dean’s office typically would talk with the student, perhaps discovering the student is struggling financially.
“The goal of the conversation is to find out why is someone…