dean of students

David Sauerwein

As each summer winds down, the folks here on campus are busy preparing for the imminent arrival of our students this fall. We are assigning residence halls, roommates and classes, as well as planning Student Orientation. Our facilities crew is also hard at work, preparing all the spaces on campus, both inside and out, for the new academic year.

The excitement builds as calls come in from new students and their parents with questions about us and what to expect this fall. We, too, cannot help but wonder what our new students will bring to our community. We look forward to seeing new faces and embracing their new ideas, energy and talent.

I take time each summer to catch up on reading from professional journals in the field of higher education – particularly in my area of “student development.” I came across an article about the culture of colleges and how new students and their parents acquire a new vocabulary through their discussions of financial aid, majors and minors, and our liberal arts curriculum and co-curricular programs. It's a long list of unfamiliar glossary terms that varies a bit from one college to another, but always takes some getting used to.

As a first-generation college student, I, too, had to learn about the language of higher education. In my first Student Orientation, I learned that my alma mater was 15 percent Greek. I looked around my group to see if I could possibly pick out which people here were of that ethnicity, which set me to wondering why this particular national background was brought to our attention.

I figured it out eventually, (Greeks is shorthand for the Greek letter organizations–fraternities and sororities–social, service and scholarly student organizations), and made a small step forward in understanding the culture in which I would live.

Some of you will feel quite at home from the first day, but for others, it will take more time. We encourage you to reach out and find a “space for your voice” in this community, as one senior recommended in her Commencement address a few years ago. We are a warm and welcoming community, and you will find many ways and places to connect with the people here.

Yet any new and worthwhile endeavor requires a challenge and some uncertainty. How much will you have to study here? Who will be your friends? There isn't one answer that holds true for all students, but each individual can find his or her own answer that works in this context. And how do you find those answers? Here are a few ways that students have discovered the culture of our college:

  • Ask questions – the most direct and best learning device is the question. You also have to choose whom you ask. While your orientation leader will be especially available to new students in the first few days, there are many others who are available including: me, your faculty, your academic advisor, resident ssistants and resident directors. You may also wish to pay a call on the president of the college, Tom Galligan. You may be surprised how easy that is.
  • Watch and Listen – a great way to learn from others.

  • Check out the Web – Colby-Sawyer gives a lot of information on the internet and you can easily search the site for what you need. .

  • The College Catalog – every college produces one of these and many are on-line. It has nearly every detail you would need to know, all spelled out. If you find that not as clear as you need, then stop by the Registrar's Office in Colgate Hall. Like many offices on campus, you will find the folks there knowledgeable and friendly.

  • Check with your classmates and other students. Sometimes student can tell you things that cannot be discovered in any other way.

Student Development works to create living and learning opportunities that achieve the learning outcomes, support and enhance the academic mission of the college, and provide a desirable learning environment for a diverse community.

Our Web site provides you with information about the services we provide in Student Development. As Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students, I am responsible for overseeing the division of student life, including:

The Student Development office is located in the Ware Student Center, first floor.

Student Development staff can be reached by e-mail or phone number.

You can also contact Nancy Staszkiewicz, senior staff assistant, at or 603/526-3758 for assistance.

I wish I had a summary of our college culture that I could give you, but that would take away the joy of discovering it on your own. If you'd like, please e-mail me with your observations of our college culture, and I will post some of your comments here in a future letter.

Until fall then, when we can meet, have a great summer.


David Sauerwein
Vice President for Student Development
& Dean of Students
Colby-Sawyer College
541 Main Street
New London, NH
(603) 526-3755
fax (603) 526-2135

Please don't hesitate to contact my office at any time. I look forward to hearing from you.