Dean Vandy Kemp announces retirement

Maryville College Dean of Students Vandy Kemp reps full orange and garnet during last year’s homecoming festivities. Photo by Maria Siopsis.
Maryville College Dean of Students Vandy Kemp reps full orange and garnet during last year’s homecoming festivities. Photo by Maria Siopsis.

Recently, Maryville College’s Vice President and Dean of Students celebrated 12 years as Dean of Students. In addition to this, Vandy Kemp announced in a community wide email that she will be retiring come January 2017.

Dean Kemp has played a crucial role in shaping Maryville College for a total of 20 years. During her early years at Maryville College, she served as the Director of the Learning center. After a five-year hiatus from Maryville College, she came back to ultimately serve as Maryville College’s Dean of Students.

“When Vandy came, it was just so clear. She had already worked at the college, so she knew us and she knew our values,” said Rev. Dr. Anne McKee. “She just knew the core of who we are as an institution, and truly cared about the mission of the college.”

When the news spread around campus that Dean Kemp would be leaving, the Maryville College community began its reflections on the everlasting impact and influence she has made during her time at the college.

“I remember sitting in the theater during the first day of freshman orientation. Dean Kemp had such a big personality,” said Lauren Biliter, a junior biochemistry major. “She was so excited to have all of us freshmen in that room, and she was so incredibly eager to see how we grew as the class of 2018.”

It is clear to everyone at Maryville College that Vandy strives to ensure that every student feels welcome and comfortable at MC. She works on the platform of the tenant, as well as the covenant, and strives for mutual respect.

“My goal is doing everything from the student development angle to promote scholarship and academics, as well as demand and expect mutual respect among everybody, and to model integrity for students and peers,” said Dean Kemp.

There is no doubt that Dean Kemp is respected by students, as well as her colleagues within student development. Kristin Gourley, director of campus life at Maryville College, works directly with Dean Kemp to maintain a healthy community across campus.

“I feel like students and their concerns are always at the forefront of what she’s doing,” said Gourley. “It feels like she very intentionally includes students and any impact a decision may have for students, and I think that is why she is so successful as the dean of students.”

When Dean Kemp came back to Maryville College to fill the role of Dean of Students, she was immediately faced with students openly drinking on campus, specifically in Beeson Village. To combat this, Dean Kemp did the unexpected and approached the drinking students face to face with ice cream.

According to Kemp, students used to frequently drink outside of Beeson in the courtyard. She knew that just bringing them into her office to have conversation over the matter would not be the most effective way to combat the issue. She decided to do something a little more unconventional.

“I just went to Kroger and got two big gallon tubs of ice cream and just went over and sat down. It freaked them out,” said Kemp, “They had no idea what to do, but, the funny thing was, they got rid of their solo cups and came on over. In the middle of it all I said, ‘Oh, by the way, you can’t have beer out here, you need to take that inside,’ and it just…worked.”

This is just a small example of why the Maryville College community is going to miss Dean Kemp after she retires. She has brought new perspective to Maryville College, and that is what students are going to miss most about our dean of students.

“Let us recognize that we have the stress of replacing someone who has done well in the position. The stress of replacing someone who has done well is preferable than that of someone unsuccessful,” said president of the college, Dr. Bogart. “We will lose a lot of institutional memory, and in many ways that is irreplaceable, but I can guarantee that what will not be lost is the focus on knowledge and the focus on students.”

It is clear that Kemp’s approach to leadership, as well as her job, has created an everlasting influence on Maryville College. She ensures, though, that she will still be part of Maryville College’s community, and will always rep her orange and garnet.

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