Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This upcoming Thursday, Humzah Soofi ’10 and Sami El-Dalati ’10 are set to formally replace Kelly Wilcox ’97, the Assistant Director of Student Life and Academic Advisor in the Dean’s Office. Soofi and El-Dalati, who have completed the required number of credits to graduate at the end of Fall 2009, will take over Wilcox’s responsibilities from February 4th until the end of this academic semester.
After Wilcox announced her move to Abu Dhabi last semester, Soofi and El-Dalati approached Myrt Westphal, Associate Dean for Student Life, about replacing Wilcox for the upcoming Spring Semester. After recieving their formal resumes and qualifications, the college’s Student Life Team (Westphal, Assistant Dean for Residential Life Rachel Head, Assistant Coordinator of Student Activities Paury Flowers, and Wilcox) seriously discussed this possibility in the last week of December.
Westphal describes, “As you may recall, last spring semester, we had Elise Garrity ’09 fill in for Paury [who was on maternity leave]. We had the model and it seemed to be a good one. We thought this [proposal] sounds like a reasonable thing because we knew we’re not going to be able to bring anyone in the spring. If we had someone come in as interns, we could figure out how to carry on Kelly’s work and sustain it in the long term.”
The Student Life team also saw Soofi and El-Dalati’s potential in continuing many of Wilcox’s programs. Soofi and El-Dalati were both involved in the Party Associate (PA) program during their tenure at Swarthmore, and also expressed interested in continuing the Dean’s Office’s wellness initiatives and the alcohol initiatives. “We felt that these two were extraordinarily well prepared and that it would be great to have them part of the team,” Westphal said.
Subsequently, the Dean’s Office offered Soofi and El-Dalati the position on January 20th and, since then, the Student Life Team has been training them for a smooth transition process. Their job descriptions include working as liaisons for the PA program and the Wellness and DARTeam initiatives. They will also assist in developing online resources and the web presence of the Student Activities Office. However, Soofi and El-Dalati will not assume all of Kelly’s duties, such as academic advising or mentoring.
“We have been talking about all of the different levels of strategic planning—administrative tasks, work that needs to be done in the maintenance mode, and the exciting aspects of the creation and development phase… Given their valued and unique perspectives, I have no doubt they will also add programs and events that continue to enhance the student experience,” Wilcox said.
One of Soofi and El-Dalati’s ideas this semester include a personalized fitness program geared towards teaching students about all aspects of the gym. They describe, “We have been in conversation with assistant baseball coach Dan Tischler on starting an introductory exercise program that would be available to all students interested in learning how to properly use the gym equipment for a variety of purposes, possibly including a specialized weight loss, muscle building, or cardiovascular fitness regimen.”
Regarding Soofi and El-Dalati’s responsibilities and duties, Wilcox and Westphal remain positive and enthusiastic about having Soofi and El-Dalati’s student voices in the Dean’s Office, in addition to their future contributions to student life. “It’s a great chance for us to get student input and for us to share with students why we do certain things. I think there will be a great communication bridge. They will do a good job on moving forward with certain initiatives,” Westphal said. “We got these two people jumping in and giving their all.”
While Soofi and El-Dalati will face some inevitable challenges in their new positions, Wilcox expressed utmost faith in their ability to continue promoting and encouraging the programs that she had started at Swarthmore. “I care greatly about these projects and appreciate the impact they can have on individual lives, as well as the entire campus culture. I am both thankful and relieved that they are now in the hands of these exceptional young men,” she said.