New VP and Dean to start at college in July

by Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • January 28, 2016

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James Hoppe, the new Vice President and Dean of Campus Life.
Courtesy of James Hoppe
James Hoppe, the new Vice President and Dean of Campus Life.
Courtesy of James Hoppe

Dr. James Hoppe, who will begin working as Emerson’s vice president and dean of campus life in July, said he hopes to connect with students in his new role at the college. 

Hoppe—currently the dean of students at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota—has 26 years of experience in higher education and a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Saint Louis University.

At Macalester, he created alcohol-free late-night activities for students, oversaw two organizational changes to increase the effectiveness of his department, and led new initiatives to increase support for the LGBTQ community at Macalester, according to an email from President M. Lee Pelton. 

“Even though I’ll be doing a lot of administration work, I could not be more committed to wanting a good student experience for every single person who’s enrolled at the college,” Hoppe said in a phone interview.

Hoppe will succeed Ronald Ludman—who retired after the spring 2015 semester—as dean, and will also take on a vice president position. Former Associate Dean of Students Sharon Duffy acted as the interim dean of students beginning in fall 2015. Duffy said she did not apply for the new vice president position, because she felt a fresh perspective was needed to reimagine and advance the department.

“I think Jim was a fantastic choice for our college and for our division and I’m really, really excited to support him and his transition,” Duffy said. “I’m really excited to work with him to create some really special things, especially at this time in Emerson’s history.”

Duffy said she plans to return to her former position of associate dean when Hoppe returns, and is now helping with his transition to the college. 

“I think that once he has some time to learn and evaluate our current structures, there may be a realignment of some responsibilities,” Duffy said. “But again, the plan right now is [that] I will be responsible for developing the transition plan for his entrance to Emerson and help him acclimate to our campus and our policies and procedures and structures.”

Hoppe said his first goal is to get to know students and get a better understanding of campus life.

“I’m interested in learning more how the community functions, what happens late at night, how people gather, what kind of events bring people together to give a sense of a common Emerson experience,” Hoppe said. “That’s something I’ve been able to help focus on at Macalester and I’m excited to learn how that all plays out at Emerson.”

Hoppe said he hopes to learn more about the renovations in Little Building and the new residence hall. He said he also hopes to continue the open door policy he had as dean of Macalester. 

“I always appreciate when folks come in and ask a question,” Hoppe said. “It gives a chance to learn more about how things are being perceived, what’s heard, what’s not, and I think that’s a pretty important baseline foundation for me.” 

Hoppe will be visiting the campus in February, before arriving permanently in July. He said he has been familiarizing himself with the student handbook, and looking at the website and Youtube channel to get a better understanding of the campus. 

“I’m really looking forward to enhancing my own education about Emerson,” Hoppe said. “And to try to make sure that some of my initial impressions are grounded in reality.”