New initiatives for student engagement
Dr. Dan Dentino is the new Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Canisius College. After recently completing his 90 day evaluation, he continues to move forward with his initiatives for improving student engagement and diversity at the school.
Dr. Dentino is responsible for advancing the Catholic Jesuit mission of the college and implementing initiatives to support diversity and inclusion throughout the Division of Student Affairs. This includes the offices of Campus Ministry, Intercollegiate Division I Athletics, Public Safety, Student Life, Counseling Center, Student Health Center and International Student Programs.
As the new manager of so many diverse programs, Dr. Dentino describes his leadership style as being a leader who serves his community. He prioritizes listening to the campus and student body as much as he aims to take action with his new ideas.
“My core values and the vision and core values of the institution align really well, and I think that my background is a perfect fit for this stage of the college’s life cycle,” he said. “We’re drowning in opportunities here to really improve the student experience and to really create an education for the head and heart in partnership with the faculty and the coaches and the parents.”
One of Dr. Dentino’s new initiatives already in progress is creating a new full-time position for a student engagement professional. This has been made possible with the assistance of the Undergraduate Student Association, which is setting aside $70,000 of their budget to pay for the new professional, as well as create a budget for them going forward.
The intention is for the $70,000 is to be put towards more large scale events, and to take some of the pressure off of student leaders to plan these events. For example, Dr. Dentino has ideas for a parents’ weekend, a little siblings’ weekend, and Great to be a Griff Day, which is scheduled to happen after the Mass of the Holy Spirit. The mass will take place on Wednesday, October 2 starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by brunch in the Student Center.
The student engagement professional will live in the residence halls, help Rich Kennedy with some of his responsibilities, and work on other leadership development initiatives.
“My hope is that it will go well enough so that USA will see the value and then maybe want to add to that [allocation],” Dr. Dentiono said. “It is going, every penny, back into student engagement. My promise to the student government is we’re going to partner with you, you’re going to know what you’re doing, you’re going to obviously have a role in the position when we hire it, so it will be transparent.”
Dr. Dentino is working with Kathleen Brucato, Assoc. Dean of Students & Title IX Coordinator, to create the new job description and get it approved with human resources. The tentative timeline is for the position to be posted in November and for someone to be hired by next spring.
Another change coming to campus under the direction of Dr. Dentino is a name change to the Griff Center. Instead of The Griff Center for Academic Success, it will become the Griff Center for Student Success. The objective is to better align the Griff Center with the Jesuit value of cura personalis, to care for the whole person.
“What you learn outside of the classroom is really important too as a sort of perfecting the masterpiece,” Dr. Dentino stated. “Just a clearer focus on engagement, academic support and career services.”
As Dr. Dentino adjusts to Buffalo and Canisius, he encourages students to feel welcome in coming to him and talking about their experiences, concerns, questions, and ideas. His office is located in Old Main 102.
“Come say hello!” he said. “I’m the bald guy that walks around. I’m here to serve. I’m here to partner with students.”