I spotted Dean Mogan at the Southeast Asian Student Association’s annual culture show, "A SEAries of Unfortunate Events." Tall, wearing glasses and smiling as he entered the Heights Room, he sat a row behind where my roommates were sitting, being loud and obnoxious whenever someone they knew took the stage. It is strange seeing administrators at student events, especially on a Saturday, but it’s especially strange when it's an administrator whose position is known for conduct more than student involvement.
This wasn’t the first time he’s been spotted. At the Organization of Latin American Affairs Revolutionary Café in Robsham Theatre in February, he introduced himself to me. “Hi, I’m Tom.” No "I’m the Dean of Students" or "I’m new here." Just Tom. When I emailed him to ask for an interview, I started to email by saying “Hi Dean Mogan.” He reminded me again in his reply. “Hi Frankie, Please call me Tom!”
Tom Mogan is the new Associate Vice President/Dean of Students at Boston College. He was named the new Dean of Students back in October 2014 after serving as the Director of the Office of Student Development at Villanova University.
“Tom brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from his work at Villanova University,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara Jones in a press release. “His experience, combined with his commitment to the formation of students and the Jesuit, Catholic mission of the University, make him an ideal choice for this position.”
Some might know him from seeing him at student-organized events like the Annual Showdown. Others may know of Tom through his relationship with Climate Justice at Boston College or through his debates with UGBC members about free speech on campus. But there’s a lot more to him than these snapshots of his first semester at BC.
When he first arrived, Tom held a series called Dinner with the Dean where he invited students to have dinner with him as a way to learn about the undergraduate experience. He listened to students talk about the sense of community at BC in addition to the competitive nature at BC in regards to student organizations.
One dinner in particular involved eight freshmen and four sophomores, and as he sat back and heard freshmen speak about finding it hard to determine what they’re good at in the BC context, the sophomores stepped in and assured the eight freshmen that everything was going to be okay. Tom mentioned one freshman wanted a moment of pause and said, “I just have to say that this is what I love about BC.”
This interaction is what drove Tom to come to Boston College. “You have four years here at BC to really learn about as much as you can and you should take advantage to learn as much as you can,” said Tom, who admits he didn’t really appreciate the opportunities available in his undergraduate career. But he wants more than just friendly interaction and taking advantage of each opportunity.
His eyes beam as he mentions how this is an exciting time at BC. “There are lots of positive changes at the University,” said Tom, mentioning a new executive Vice President, new Associate Vice President, Dean of Students (him), the conclusion of a $1.5 million fundraising campaign and new core curriculum in the works. And his vision for this exciting time is about the students.
“My vision is to really look at student experience and how we can help care for and support students,” he said.
One example of following his mission was a letter to students expressing dissatisfaction with the actions of the now defunct SAE fraternity chapter at the University of Oklahoma. He doesn’t take credit for the letter, praising Dr. Ines Maturana Sendoya for reaching out to him about students’ concern with what happened in Oklahoma. “We thought it was the right thing to do. It’s very relevant to what is happening on campus today and campuses across the country,” he said. It served as an educational opportunity, he said, a bystander education lesson for students to recognize what goes on in our country to empower BC students to stand up.
Tom talked for about an hour and a half and the reoccurring theme centered on student involvement. It makes sense. He served as the Director of Student Involvement at Villanova University and now will oversee the operations of the Office of Student Involvement along with his role as Dean of Students. But it wasn’t just about how involved students are on campus. It’s about how involved he is—in just his first semester at Boston College, it has been clear that he wants to be with the students, whether it is in the Dean’s office or potentially teaching a course like he did at Villanova.
In the middle of our conversation, he gets up to make a phone call. He has an eleven o’clock meeting to attend, but informs the person he is running a little late because he is meeting with a student. Tom then looks at his calendar and mentions how he is going to attend an event on Ignatian Spirituality instead of the Fr. Boyle event every one else is going to.
He tells me how his wife and three sons are still in Pennsylvania as they wrap up the school year before shipping up to Boston in the summer. It sinks in at this moment. Dean Mogan is here because he cares about the students of BC, so much so that he is here without his family, attending as many student events as he can and making himself known on campus not just as the Dean of Students, but as who he is after the job title: Tom.