Dean of Students Paul Chebator has recently made it public knowledge that he plans to retire at the end of this semester. This marks the conclusion of a 34-year career working in the Dean of Students’ office, where he began his Boston College career in 1980 as an assistant dean. During his time at the University, he has consistently striven to make life at BC better for students, often going above and beyond the call of duty.
BC has changed immensely as Chebator has worked to transform the Dean’s office-and, through it, the student-administrator relationship-with the development of new resources, such as the Sexual Assault Network (SANet), to help students in crisis. He also developed the use of case meetings, in which prominent University officials meet to discuss potential problems with particular students, emphasizing preventative rather than reactive measures.
As Dean of Students, Chebator has been responsible for running an office that oversees the conduct policies of the University, assists students who deal with various disabilities, provides resources for students living off campus, and responds to students in crisis. His office had an even wider reach up until revisions about seven years ago, as the then-Office of the Dean for Student Development was responsible for managing the Office of International Programs, the Office of Graduate Student Life, the Student Programs Office, crisis management, the Alcohol and Drug Education program, and various other leadership programs.
While in the Dean of Students’ office, Chebator was responsible for its expansion from four people to 22 that brought those aforementioned programs into the scope of his office. He subsequently oversaw divesting many of those programs in order to give them greater autonomy and independence.
Among the many changes that Chebator supervised, the recent overhaul of the school’s alcohol and disciplinary policy that his office began has been especially relevant to current students. These policies affect many students every year and concern a significant percentage of the student body. Chebator’s work in this area last semester gave administrators and resident directors more leeway to shape their responses to particular students, rather than imposing unilateral sanctions regardless of circumstance. Even after the changes that the conduct process underwent in the fall, Chebator’s office remains committed to continuing to review and revise it as necessary.
While many administrators do not often interact directly with students, Chebator went out of his way to work with as many students as possible, whether through holding office hours or his teaching. For the past 10 years, Chebator has taught a section of Courage to Know, the freshman seminar designed by the Office of First Year Experience to help new students acclimate to college life and think reflectively about their BC experience. A significant number of students return, whether at graduation or years down the road, to thank him for the influence that he had on their lives-an indication of his genuine connections with undergraduates.
The office of the Vice President of Student Affairs has begun a national search to find a new Dean of Students. Finding a qualified candidate who fits with both the University’s Jesuit, Catholic mission and the department itself will be a difficult task. In light of Chebator’s years of service and his commitment to developing meaningful relationships with other administrators, faculty, and students, finding someone to fill his shoes will be an even more challenging endeavor.