Lang Dean Browner Reaches Out to Students
At half past noon on September 26, Lang Dean Stephanie Browner walked into the Lang Café and placed her “Conversation with the Dean” sign on a table surrounded by four chairs. She bought her lunch and sat down at the table. Less than a minute later, Lang students Lianna Schwartz-Orbach and Alexa Riggs joined Browner, officially kicking off Lang’s Conversations with the Dean series.
Browner, who is in her first semester at The New School, started Conversations with the Dean to foster a strong relationship with Lang students and to receive their input about the university. Once a month this semester, she will meet with them in the Lang Café to have a casual discussion about life at the liberal arts institution.
“I want students to know that my door is open,” Browner explained. “I want relationships with students, and I want to hear from students.”
After their conversations with Browner, students said they were appreciative of the time she had put aside to better acquaint herself with the student body, as well as the fact that she was making herself accessible to their questions and inquiries.
“I really appreciated that she made herself available and just in a very relaxed way. She seems really excited to be here,” said Lang science major Alisha Racho-Jansen. “She’s trying to not only have a relationship with professors, but also the actual students who make up the school.”
The lunchtime chats in the cafeteria are only one aspect of Browner’s efforts to reach out to the Lang student body. She has also taken to social media, setting up a Twitter account under the handle @Dean_Stephanie.
Browner started tweeting to the Lang community this past summer. She plans to actively tweet about anything that, in her words, “smart, engaged, curious, and thinking” Lang students might be interested in. She has recently tweeted on a film screening and discussion in the 20th Street Residence Hall, an upcoming poetry-reading event, and recommendations on finding good coverage on the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.
Browner also plans to hold meetings with Lang seniors who are graduating this spring in order to get their perspectives on the Lang experience and their time at the institution. She said she hopes the meetings will allow her to learn even more about the college, and also build connections with students who will soon be Lang alumni.
“I’d like to meet graduating seniors so they feel connected to Lang as they exit — I think our alumni community is critical,” Browner said. “I want to hear seniors tell their stories of learning at Lang. These stories will help shape my understanding of Lang and my work as Lang’s dean.”
The next installment of Conversations with the Dean will be held on Thursday, October 20 at 12:30 p.m. in the Lang Café.