Student Affairs Vice Provost Makes Outreach A Priority

Michael Zoll, new to Saint Mary's College and to the newly created position of vice provost for student affairs, arrived seeing the rainbow after the storm. With new policies and programs in place to help ensure students' safety, the ebullient senior administrator is ready to lead what he feels is a strong student affairs operation and eager to establish positive relationships with key groups on and off campus.

"A lot of great work has already been done," Zoll says. "I've been inspired by the leadership here. There is truly a commitment to student affairs, to life outside the classroom, and to educating the whole person."

Zoll intends to become fully involved with Saint Mary's and even chose to live in nearby Lafayette to have ready access to the campus. He plans to regularly attend student programs, reserve two lunch hours per week to meet with students, and make himself available to students two afternoons each week during "drop by" hours-informal get-togethers that take place outside the student union rather than in his office. Zoll also considers it important to reach out to staff, faculty, parents of current students, and the De La Salle Christian Brothers on campus.

Zoll joined Saint Mary's in July, having served since 1998 as dean of student development at Mount Saint Mary's College in Maryland. He acquired many of his years of student affairs experience at Catholic colleges, including Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he was associate dean of students, and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he served as assistant dean of students.

"It is important to me that my beliefs and values closely align with the mission of the institution that I serve. In this way, I believe that my service to others becomes a more full expression of my faith," Zoll says.

Zoll's interest in student affairs dates back to his undergraduate days at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he became a resident assistant and then an assistant resident director. But Zoll didn't yet realize this could form a career path. He recalls, "I had a love of the liberal arts and wasn't thinking about careers. I was just in love with learning."

Since he received his bachelor's degree in communication studies and religious studies, Zoll has earned a Master of Arts in student affairs and higher education administration at the University of Vermont and a Doctorate of Education in educational leadership at the University of La Verne in California.

Twenty years after discovering his life's work, Zoll remains enthusiastic about it. He says, "It always comes back to the students. They're a fount of energy and excitement. That brings me back and charges me up year after year. To work in this kind of environment-where young adults are out on their own, getting their bearings, discovering their life's vocation and a love of learning, and asking questions-is just contagious."

-- by Amy DerBedrosian
College Communications