5 questions with Carrie Petr
Interview by LUCAS FAHRER
Photos by ANDREW MATTSON
In her 20 years in higher education, Dr. Carrie Petr has learned that an individual approach leads to the best results for students. The energetic former director of the Hansen Leadership Program was selected as Doane’s new dean of students and vice president of Student Affairs, and her aim is simple: to make every single Doane student’s college experience impactful and personal.
What inspired you to apply for the position?
Being a dean of students and vice president of Student Affairs has been my career goal for some time. As a 20-year professional in the field of student affairs, I had hoped that one day I might be fortunate enough to be offered such a job. When the position opened at Doane—a school I have come to love very dearly—it felt perfect.
What are the key components in your vision for the future of Doane’s Student Affairs?
I believe that our area should be a leader in developing and maintaining a robust student-centered, student-led campus life. Our campus is filled with students—and staff and faculty—who are eager to contribute to making life at Doane intellectually challenging, socially-engaged and fun! As we move forward in our office, I will be excited to see us re-envision the cultures in the residence halls, making them a special place to live throughout a student’s years at Doane. And we will see a campus alive with activities and learning opportunities outside of class. The role of Student Affairs should be to find avenues for everyone to be engaged in all aspects of campus life, whether that is in campus organizations, the residence halls, athletic events, intramurals or academic activities.
What can you do to enrich the already strong quality of students’ college experience on the Crete campus?
My role as dean of students is to encourage participation in all aspects of campus life to and for all students. Furthermore, I’m the “voice” of students to upper administration and friends of the institution, and by being an excellent advocate for all students, I ensure that the experience students have at Doane is a great one. Students choose Doane because there is some aspect of the campus life that feels like “home,” and when they engage in that activity, they make friends who become friends for life. In developing new avenues for student involvement, it’s important that the Student Affairs team listens to student ideas, and that they stay current in opportunities on other campuses that could be a fit for Doane.
What ideas and talents will you bring to Doane’s cabinet?
While I have been here at Doane for six wonderful years, the rest of my experience is at other institutions, so I bring “new eyes” on our offices and activities, and I hope to help grow the Student Affairs division to be the strongest in the state—and beyond! I also have an insatiable energy and passion for the college experience. I love working closely with students, and I think that my enthusiasm helps me be a good role model for everyone in the division of Student Affairs.
What is your ultimate goal in helping students?
Depends on the student. Every student is different. My goal is to find ways to help every student in a way that is meaningful to him or her, even if they never know my office has a hand in doing so. My hope is that the student experience here at Doane helps folks grow into being outstanding alumni, and I seek for our office to create opportunities to make their Doane career one that contributes to that growth. In the end, I keep in mind that college is a very special experience for anyone who chooses to continue their education—and that it is critical that we remember that helping students make wonderful memories of their time here is a huge part of our job. As for me, I know that one of my special skills in meeting new people and working closely with students one-on-one to make the important life decisions that can determine their future. It is really important that I remain accessible for all our students and show them how much I care about making their Doane experience truly unique.