Delete "interim" from her title — Lori Berquam is now officially the University of Wisconsin Dean of Students.
After a yearlong, nationwide search that brought in finalists from New Jersey and Illinois, Chancellor John Wiley and Provost Patrick Farrell decided to choose an in-house candidate who has served as UW's interim dean of students since July 2005.
And Berquam said she couldn't be happier.
"I'm so overjoyed," Berquam said in a phone interview Thursday. "I'm excited to move forward with all the work that has been done in the past 18 months and continue to work on the things we've started."
After beating out Rutgers' Brian Rose and Northwestern's Timothy Gordon for the university's top student-affairs position, Berquam said she's already looking forward to addressing the multitude of issues facing the UW campus.
Among the most pressing concerns, Berquam said, are campus safety and diversity, as well as providing students — especially veterans and students with disabilities — the support services they need.
"Those are the things that I am willing to work on and spend time on," she said. "And we need to continue to identify what the critical issues are we have to focus on."
Another issue Berquam will have to face immediately, Farrell said, is the number of "interim" staff remaining in the dean of students' office.
There are currently four staff members in the office's central administration working on an interim basis, including two associate deans of students.
"That's really the first order of business for Lori," Farrell said. "Look at what needs to be done to make those positions permanent so the office itself can feel settled … and can focus on their work."
However, Farrell said Berquam is the right person to balance the many duties required of a dean of students.
"[Berquam] has a really unique combination of abilities to relate and work well with students in that part of the dean of students role," Farrell said. "However, there are several other important parts of the role, including organizing the office, integrating it with the rest of campus, and she has a great combination of skills to sort of address all of those roles."
Despite the accolades from the UW administration, some student leaders are not as quick to throw their support behind Berquam.
During the selection process, each candidate addressed a student forum where they were peppered with questions regarding the UW campus.
Berquam, in particular, was asked many pointed questions on campus climate and cooperation with student organizations.
Katrina Flores, an executive staff member of the MultiCultural Student Coalition, said Berquam has created a lot of important dialogue to address campus issues, but needs to start doing more.
"Dialogue is good, but it has to turn into action," Flores said. "I think that she can be the right person for the job, but that has yet to be proven."
Specifically, Flores said she hopes Berquam takes the opportunity to "connect with students" involved in a wide variety of groups and organizations on campus.
"With most student organizations, other than ASM, there might not have been a lot of cooperation," Flores said.
Berquam said the student forum provided her with a valuable opportunity to hear feedback from students and said she looks forward to holding more in the future.
"I do think it's important that I heard many of the things that were said at the forum," Berquam said. "I learned quite a bit … and from those conversations, I can put some energy behind the issues I heard."
However, with the news still settling in, Berquam said the most important thing now is to take time and refocus on her new role.
"The next step is probably to pull myself together and really take a look at the feedback, spend some time having more conversations with my staff and let them know I'm not going anywhere," Berquam said.
Farrell agreed with Berquam's perspective.
"First of all, take a deep breath," Farrell advised Berquam. "It's been a long process."