Nelson begins tenure as VPSL

Suzy M. Nelson, new vice president and dean for student life, began her tenure July 1.

In her new job, Nelson says her “focus is on how the out-of-class experience promotes student learning and growth.” She aims to work with faculty, staff, and students to “develop a campus environment and co-curricular experiences that help students thrive emotionally, intellectually, and physically.”

Nelson will oversee the Division of Student Life, which encompasses a wide range of departments, such as DAPER, Residential Life & Dining, the Office of Student Citizenship, Student Support Services, Student Activities Office, and Campus Activities Complex.

Over the next few months, Nelson will be working closely with Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 on implementing the Senior House turnaround and revising the Good Samaritan policy.

Nelson said that her first day on the job was great.

“I got two beautiful bouquets of flowers from the chancellor and members of the DSL staff. Someone also left me a very cool hand-made MIT T-shirt, with some cookies and a mystery note, signed by ‘J’, that welcomed me to MIT.  I would like to thank the author of the note, baker of the cookies, and designer of the T-shirt, if I can find out who made them.”

She has met with various students, faculty, and staff and said she “can already tell that the people make this place special.”

“I guess what surprised me about MIT given this is a fairly large school (especially when compared with Colgate) is that the people here are as warm, friendly and helpful to newcomers. It has made my transition that much easier.”

She said that her favorite part of her job is being able to work with students.

Nelson previously served as the vice president and dean of the college at Colgate University. She has held positions at Syracuse and Cornell, and was dean of student life at Harvard.

The beginning of her tenure also marks a reorganization in DSL, which involved moving S3, VPR, SDS, and CDSA into the division. These groups will now report to Nelson.

Katherine Nazemi contributed reporting.