Mary Ann Begley replaced Joseph Greenwell April 30 as interim dean of students at SF State, a position she will have until a the university finds a permanent dean.
As acting dean, Begley, who has worked as director of residential life since 2010, oversees student recreation, dorm life, counseling and the Student Involvement and Career Center.
“I have had the pleasure of working very closely with Dr. Begley for several years as a colleague,” said former Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell, who is now the vice chancellor and dean of students at the University of California Berkeley. “I’m confident that she will continue to move student life forward in this role.”
Begley said that getting to know students personally and understanding their challenges, interests and concerns is essential to doing her job well. She makes a point to talk with students during her daily walk to campus or on the quad.
“One of my big things is getting to know them (the students),” Begley said. “I intend to do that as much as possible.”
Begley plans to offer more social and recreational activities on campus based on what students want. Events that have been popular include live music, comedy shows and casino nights.
Kinesiology major Ricardo Arias would like to see more campus recreational activities, particularly intramural sports, but also wants Begley to focus on SF State’s large number of commuter students.
“That should be a priority before the parties and stuff,” Arias said. “I don’t feel that (social events) would make a difference, because we’re still on a budget.”
Arias, who lives off campus, said that he would like Begley to talk to commuter students about what would make their experiences at SF State easier, such as classes at more convenient times.
Begley has been involved in student affairs for over 20 years, first at East Kentucky University in her native state, and later at the Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. When she first arrived at State, she quickly realized that she loved the city and school.
“The number one difference for me is that it’s very monocultural in Kentucky and Ohio, and here the diversity is phenomenal,” Begley said. “A lot of universities tout that they’re diverse. This is the first place I’ve worked where that’s actually true.”
Most of Begley’s friends and family are still back East, which she said has been hard for her. Begley has adjusted to life in San Francisco by throwing herself into her career, spending time in nature and exploring the city she now calls home.
Over the summer, Begley plans to visit family in Kentucky and Florida, and to go up to Portland Oregon for the Fourth of July. She will also begin organizing events such as Welcome Days for incoming students.
“As advice for Dr. Begley, it is the same as I have for all my former team at SF State,” said Greenwell, “to stay focused on the enhancement of the student experience.”