Thomas M. Crady, vice president of student services at Grinnell College in Iowa, will take over as Dartmouth’s dean of the College starting in January, College President James Wright announced Thursday. Crady will replace Acting Dean Dan Nelson, who assumed the duties of the post after Dean Jim Larimore left for Swarthmore College in August 2006.
“It’s difficult to say what I’ll do at Dartmouth because I haven’t been there yet,” Crady said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the culture. I want to sit down with groups of students to find out their thoughts. I’m excited.”
Crady has served as Grinnell’s vice president of student services since 1998. He began his tenure at the college in 1982 as a resident adviser and held the titles of associate dean of student affairs, dean of student affairs, vice president and dean for student affairs over the course of his 25 years at Grinnell. In addition to posts in student affairs, Crady also served as acting dean of admission and financial aid for seven years.
Wright praised Crady for his dedication to students and problem-solving approach.
“I feel very good about him — he enjoys working things out with students,” Wright said. “He’s a good and active listener.”
Crady’s appointment marks the close of a year-long search initiated by the College after Larimore resigned last summer. Wright acknowledged that the process had taken longer than expected, but expressed satisfaction with its outcome.
Crady was one of four candidates selected as finalists this winter, but was not offered the position until a few weeks ago.
“One of the sure-listed candidates had personal issues and couldn’t come to campus,” Wright said. “We put the search on hold, but we very much had kept [Crady] informed that we wanted to keep him active in the pool.”
Carmen Twillie Ambar was the only candidate who did not come to Hanover for an on-campus interview. Candidates Michelle Garfield of the University of Georgia, and Jean Kim, formerly of the University of Puget Sound, visited in February.
“We wanted to look at the other person first,” Wright said. “It didn’t work out, and as soon as that was the case, the committee assessed where they were. They thought Crady was someone they’d like to bring back for a second round of conversation. He had never been ruled out.”
College Provost Barry Scherr, who chaired the search committee, was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
At Grinnell, Crady worked to improve the out-of-classroom experience for students, which he cited as the most significant accomplishment of his tenure. He oversaw the construction of four new residence halls, a $40-million campus center and a multicultural center. Crady said that he sought to bring the entire campus community together and emphasized addressing multicultural issues.
Crady also has a record of responding to crises. During his time at Grinnell, he dealt with a student’s suicide and spearheaded a response to the disappearance of a student last fall, organizing searches for the missing student and bringing in extra counseling help.
Students and faculty at Grinnell lauded Crady for his dedication and perseverance.
“He’s very well respected because he knows how to accomplish things and how to do so in a pretty efficient manner,” recent Grinnell alumnus and former Student Body President Chris Hall told The Dartmouth in February. “He knows how to keep himself out of trouble and get done what he wants.”
Crady, who said he felt that it is too early to discuss any specific changes he would want to implement, stressed that he is excited to learn more about Dartmouth through meeting with students, faculty and staff, as well as doing research on the College’s history.
“I want to take some quality time to do a lot of listening,” Crady said.
He describes himself as being accessible and open to communication, referring to office hours he holds at Grinnell and will have at Dartmouth as well.
“I’m the type of person to network with multiple constituencies,” he said, noting that he wants to bring all students — especially ones who feel marginalized — to the table.
The incoming dean recalled having been a first-generation college student, paying his way through college. He linked those experiences to his sensitivity about issues and struggles that students often face in college.
Crady noted that while Grinnell does not have a Greek system, he wants to learn more about Dartmouth’s, and said he would bring a fresh point of view and approach any issues concerning the Greek community without prejudice.
“My approach is to really get to know each one of the Greek letter organizations and not to assume the negative with them,” Crady said.
Crady’s doctoral dissertation at Iowa State University, where he received a Ph.D. in education, focused on alcohol and fraternities. The report, titled “Written and unwritten rules: the use of alcohol by fraternities: a study of one college,” addressed a disconnect between the intent and the practical outcome of an undisclosed college’s alcohol policies. Crady noted that the findings from his qualitative research do not necessarily apply to Dartmouth.
Generally, Crady says he identifies binge drinking as a problem on college campuses and emphasized that at Dartmouth he plans to focus on addressing situations in which alcohol contributes to students harming themselves or others.
Crady, a Detroit native, came to Grinnell after working at Northern Michigan University’s counseling center, where he also received his undergraduate degree in speech and a master’s degree in counseling.
Crady cited the input of his wife, Lisa, and sons, Peter, 15, and Scott, 10, as instrumental to his decision to accept the position at Dartmouth. Crady, an avid fly-fisher, bicyclist and skier is looking forward to taking advantage of the natural setting of the Upper Valley.
“That’s something we put on hold when we moved to Iowa,” he said.
Crady also expressed excitement about getting to know more people at Dartmouth.
“I found people to be very friendly, open and willing to share their concerns,” he said. “I had never been super-active in the job market, but this was one of the positions that I always thought I’d look at if it ever came up.”