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SSU welcomes Kline as new dean of students

Kaitlyn Cooper
Dean Elizabeth Kline standing in her office doorway

This semester, Elizabeth Kline, Ph.D., joined Shawnee State University as the new dean of students. Dean Kline has a background in environmental science, often assessing environmental risks for various organizations. She described herself as very technical and analytical, which contributed to her success in the industry. However, the Great Recession from 2007-2009 negatively impacted the environmental science industry severely, and Kline began working as an adjunct professor on the side. Fortunately for Kline, she immediately “fell in love” with higher education and the students she worked with. 

Before coming to Shawnee, Kline worked at Zane State College in Zanesville, Ohio, for 12 years. During her time at Zane State, Kline made the transition from environmental science to higher education, and then into higher education administration. In that position, she helped students to establish and maintain such programs as peer mentoring, giving trees for the children of students at the college, food pantries and clothing closets. Throughout these programs, Kline said she was always interested that “students who had the least were the ones who gave the most.”

Dean Kline standing in her office in the MUC (Kaitlyn Cooper)

Kline explained that she is particularly drawn to people who manage to succeed in life, even when “society has written them off.” She shared that her dissertation for her doctoral program was on “single mothers persevering through college with hope and resilience.” Kline said that it is important for students to have opportunities to establish their own unique voices, even when they face serious hardships. Her vision for the university is providing what the students want and need during their time at SSU. 

On her first day, Dean Kline was welcomed to her office with a banner on the wall and “balloons everywhere,” which she said made her feel special and wanted. “The people here care,” Kline said. She described Portsmouth as similar to Zanesville, which is one quality that drew her to the area. Both locations share similar values such as a love of home and a sense of community, and, she said, “when you help a student make even a small change, it’s the whole family you’re helping.”

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Kline said that being a mother of six children prepared her most for her new position as dean of students. Her background in environmental science gives her an advantage when reading qualitative and quantitative data, but she said, “As a parent, you learn quickly to be humble.” She also expressed that it is best to adopt a humble attitude in an environment like higher education.  

When asked what she would most want students, faculty and staff to know about her, Kline said, “My office is always open.” She explained that she has a collaborative approach to student affairs and that all ideas are valid. She added that she wants to hear every student’s voice to ensure she helps students create the paths they want to follow, and that she will actively reach out to students to get to know them. 

Alongside the idea of students finding their voices, Kline emphasized that it is just as important for students to be able to find out who they are during college. She said that her generation “had the luxury of time” to plan their lives while modern college students feel rushed to achieve instant success. She added that it “takes a long time to become comfortable in your own skin,” and that students navigate many obstacles when discovering new identities and understanding how those fit into their everyday lives. As dean of students, she said that it is her job to clear the way for students to develop those voices, whatever the obstacle may be.

In reference to students establishing their own identity, Kline said, “Embrace it. Own it. Use it to help others.”

Dean Kline and her motivational poster (Kaitlyn Cooper)

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Cooper
Kaitlyn Cooper, Staff Reporter
Kaitlyn Cooper is a sophomore at Shawnee State University. Born in Kentucky and raised near Portsmouth, Kaitlyn is familiar with the surrounding area and has been involved in the large community for most of her life. With so many opportunities for future careers in her area, Kaitlyn struggled for years with deciding on the perfect major. Finally, she decided on English with a concentration in Communications. Kaitlyn is known for having a wide variety of interests, so she feels that pursuing a career in journalism is a perfect fit for her. For Kaitlyn, writing has been a skill and a pastime of hers since she was young. As a little girl, she enjoyed creating short newspapers with information about what had happened at school during the day and how much she loved her family and pets. Today, she is interested in investigative journalism and hopes to be deeply involved with it after earning her degree. Writing for the Chronicle will not only be a fun experience for Kaitlyn, but she also hopes it will help her refine her skill as a writer and narrow down her choices for her post-graduation plan. With this semester being her second with the Chronicle, Kaitlyn hopes to use her new writing experience to write interesting articles that appeal to the students at Shawnee State University. Her focus for this semester will be learning more about the field of journalism and exploring more topics in-depth rather than just report on breaking news. COVID-19 has been causing some issues for everyone, but Kaitlyn does not intend to let these setbacks prevent her from getting a good story. No matter what hurdles she may have to jump, Kaitlyn is dedicated to her readers and getting them the information they need.

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    Jerome HoltMar 29, 2024 at 9:33 pm

    You are getting the best person . She is a wonderful person,mother, teacher and mentor. The students are very lucky