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Reed College Announces New Vice President and Dean of Student Services

Jerlena Griffin-Desta will join Reed College as vice president and dean of student services, effective August 4, 2008.

PORTLAND, OR (May 9, 2008) -- Jerlena Griffin-Desta will join Reed College as vice president and dean of student services, effective August 4, 2008. Griffin-Desta brings to Reed over 20 years of experience in student services at both liberal arts colleges and large public universities, including, for the past 13 years, the University of California, Berkeley. As UC Berkeley’s executive director of student development, she supervised the residential living programs for more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as new-student services, academic support, and family programs.

Griffin-Desta brings to Reed leadership and administrative skills in strategic planning, coalition building, and change management. She was attracted to the position by the Reed community’s dedication to sustaining the highest intellectual standards. “I have always admired and respected Reed for its unwavering commitment to both intellectual inquiry and student governance,” she said. “I look forward to partnering with students, staff, and faculty in helping to move Reed toward even greater pre-eminence.”

Griffin-Desta lists family, theatre, and culinary arts among her personal interests, as well as a commitment to community service. She was the co-director of the Betty Shabazz Academy Saturday school program, president of Delta Sigma Theta public service sorority, and an education advocate for the Alameda County foster care program.     

“I knew that if I were to ever leave Berkeley, both the university and the town, that it would require my moving to an equally exceptional place,” said Griffin-Desta of her family’s decision to come to Reed and Portland. “After spending a few days on campus during the interviews, meeting some of the most extraordinary students, staff, and faculty, something quite unexpected happened: I fell in love with Reed.”

A Georgia native, Griffin-Desta earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Mercer University in 1983. She will complete her Master of Arts degree at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education late in May 2008, and she anticipates completing her Ph.D., also at Berkeley, in 2009. Griffin-Desta’s areas of concentration include policy implementation, assessment, and organization theory.

Griffin-Desta replaces Mary Catherine King, who retired in December 2007. In a letter to the campus community announcing the new appointment, Reed President Colin Diver expressed his excitement for Griffin-Desta’s arrival, and his gratitude to interim vice president and dean of student services, Barre Stoll. “Barre will hand over to Jerlena a student services program that is, if anything, even stronger than the one she inherited,” Diver said.