Despite departure, dean of students 'forever a Wildcat'
Keith Humphrey’s move to California came far later than planned.
When he arrived in 1998, the dean of students and assistant vice president of Student Affairs originally intended to spend a few years at the UA, working in Residence Life while earning a master’s degree. On Tuesday, nearly 15 years after his arrival, Humphrey announced his resignation for a position at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo as the vice president of Student Affairs.
Humphrey started his tenure as a hall director of Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall, and has since worked in 17 different offices on campus. Humphrey said the people and Tucson’s atmosphere are what kept him around for more than a decade longer than planned.
“I found that this was a very special place with really special people,” he said, “and I love my experience.”
Throughout his time on campus, Humphrey said his main focus has been the students, and to many of his colleagues, it shows. For Tina Douglas, the office’s executive assistant, that’s what she’ll remember most when Humphrey leaves.
“His interaction with students,” Douglas said. “We have had some students come in that have been upset or had some issues going on, and he’s had absolutely no trouble taking time out of whatever’s going on in his schedule to meet with them.”
Chrissy Lieberman, an associate dean of students, said she’ll remember Humphrey’s human side, adding that he realizes his coworkers have lives outside of their jobs. Lieberman added that the two of them have kids that are about the same age.
“We oftentimes have very serious conversations [over the phone] while giving baths to small children,” she said. “It’s just great having a boss who ‘gets it.’”
While Humphrey described the job offer at Cal Poly following a nationwide search as “quite an honor,” some colleagues say that the university is the one that scored a great deal and spoke of Humphrey’s extensive experience in a number of offices.
“I think they got very lucky in getting him,” said Kathy Adams Riester, an associate dean of students and director of the UA Parents and Family Association. “I think they’re going to get someone who’s ready to come in and help take a look at what’s going on there and really address issues that they have and be creative in finding solutions.”
According to the email announcement, Humphrey expects his last day of work to be on Jan. 8. His work at Cal Poly will start less than a month later, on Feb. 4. Humphrey said he hopes to have an opportunity to build a relationship with the person who is set to take his position, and advises that they keep a clear vision.
“I think the person who comes into this role needs to be very student-focused,” he said, “not be somebody who works from behind their desk.”
Humphrey may be moving on, but one thing will always stay the same.
“I will still wear red on game days,” he said. “I will be forever a Wildcat.”