Familiar Territory

Dr. Jane Camarillo, SMC Vice Provost for Student Life

Dr. Jane Camarillo joined the College earlier this year as its new vice provost for student life. We asked her to share insights about her role, priorities and vision for student life.

What attracted you to Saint Mary's?

My colleague, pastor and friend, Father Patrick LaBelle (an SMC trustee, alum, former dean and resident director) alerted me to the vice provost opportunity. He often spoke of Saint Mary’s and his engagement in student life with affection and commitment.

When I interviewed with the search committee, the reflections from ASSMC president Shane Keane about his Jan Term travel to New Orleans gave me goose bumps. He felt that the experience was the perfect convergence of the three traditions of Saint Mary’s. I knew that this was the place that I wanted to be.

Stanford and Saint Mary's are very different. How has the transition been?

I have had a great time meeting colleagues and students. One fun, informative experience was the 45-minute overview of Saint Mary’s history by Brother Raphael. I also read The Work is Yours: The Life of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. This was a tremendous aid to me, not having worked at a faith-based institution before. I feel I am in familiar territory when I think of my work at Stanford and Saint Mary’s. We are all deeply committed to serving students.

You expressed a desire to help students prepare for a "principled life," whatever their vocation. What does that mean?

My hope for student life is that it is the point of integration of classroom instruction with composing a life beyond Saint Mary’s. As students engage in meaningful leadership in programming or student governance, offer their hand in service projects, learn the importance of collective responsibility in the student residences or participate in the orientation of our newest community members, I hope they can make the connection to the ideas they examined in Greek thought during Seminar and apply the tools of critical inquiry. Our goal is to provide the framework for students to lead intentional lives.

What areas are you giving greatest initial attention?

The Office of Residence Life has been working with campus facilities to revive student residences. We’re also doing space planning for Student Life offices. We’d like to have closer physical links between offices that deliver services or support programs and are more visible to the student body.

When you’re not working, what do you most like to do?

My pooch and I are trying to explore the outdoors of Moraga and Lafayette. The reservoir (after a generous gift of a permit) is going to be an immediate target for weekends. On longer breaks, I travel to Palo Alto and L.A. to visit my godchildren. Simple pleasures.

If you had to pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Collegial. I find much value in my work the more I’m able to collaborate with others.