New coworkers, a new boss, and an unknown environment can cause one to feel nervous and make for an awkward encounter.
Springfield College has welcomed several new faculty members this year, all of whom have shown their Pride since the start. Dean Rachel Rubinstein is no exception to this display of togetherness that is shown through the Springfield College community.
Rubinstein is in her first year as Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences at Springfield. She has been involved in college administration prior to her time on Alden Street; while at Hampshire College as a literature professor, she had the opportunity to become a Dean of Academic Support and Advising.
For many years, Rubinstein was able to teach while also helping students in the advising office. This was the stepping stone for her career trajectory in college administration.
“What I discovered was that I really enjoy administrative work and it was very student-focused which was fun, but I also got a chance to work with faculty across [Hampshire] College,” Rubinstein said.
After six years, Rubinstein moved 30 minutes south to Holyoke Community College where she was a full-time administrator in student and academic affairs. She continued her approach of student-focused work, which helped to shape her ideals that she would later bring to Springfield College.
“When you work in advising you’re also working with student affairs a lot, and really thinking about supporting students in a holistic way,” she added.
To add to her well-rounded resumé of experience, Rubinstein worked with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE). Through this, Rubinstein worked in policy making, seeing the behind-the-scenes of how decisions were being made for students.
“Thinking about the whole system of higher education, and thinking about student success and eliminating barriers…issues of access, all of those things I was really invested in,” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein’s time at MDHE made her want to get back into a campus environment to use what she was learning and discussing to help improve an institution.
She heard about the opportunity at Springfield College and was instantly drawn to the mission of service to others that Springfield lives by. It worked well with what she wanted to bring to a school and seemed to be a perfect match.
“I was really intrigued by the Arts and Sciences in general because it includes things like business and education and also things like writing and journalism and sciences, so it just felt like a very diverse area,” she said.
“And I was interested in the opportunity to work with [faculty]…thinking about how to support student success by really supporting faculty.”
Upon becoming the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Rubinstein has already begun to implement ideas that will benefit the College. Since she doesn’t have the interaction with the student body that she wanted through this position, she created a student advisory committee so she can meet face-to-face and receive feedback about the College, the school of Arts and Sciences, and anything going on that they want to share. She has created a positive energy in the community that allows for students to feel as though they have a voice.
Another new idea that Rubinstein is working on implementing is co-curricular maps.
“It’s a wonderful way of showing students their various pathways through their degree that is really clear, and collects all the information they need, and also encourages them to make connections between their coursework and everything that happens outside of class,” Rubinstein said.
Through these maps, students can see laid out in front of them a sequence through their years of opportunities that are available to them on campus other than courses. They can see clubs that may be related to their interests or classes, events going on, and other ways to get involved and make the connections that are here for them on campus.
“We have a lot of great support systems for students…there’s a lot of resources for students but they are not necessarily collected under one place,” she said.
With a co-curricular map, it will be easy to locate the options students have and hopefully increase the use of these resources that are available.
Rubinstein’s focus since coming to Springfield College has been celebration. After the two year COVID-19 hiatus, she wants to recognize the projects that both students and faculty are doing on top of their everyday school work. Being creative is encouraged and appreciated to better the minds of the community.
To help acknowledge the work people are doing, she wants to establish a faculty appreciation program to share the impressive feats that are going on outside the classroom. Rubinstein has no lack of care and compassion for her fellow Springfield College community members, and she has made it her mission to support them as much as she can.
Whether that is one-on-one meetings with every professor in the Arts and Sciences department, a faculty innovation group to help brainstorm ideas for their lessons, or potentially teaching a seminar class next year to get back into the classroom, Rubinstein is committed to her students and faculty.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College