Bowdoin College (Maine) Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi was selected as Emory University’s dean of students and associate vice president for belonging, engagement and community, according to a March 15 press release. She will officially assume her role on June 1.
Odejimi received a bachelor’s degree in sociology, anthropology and Black studies at Denison University (Ohio) before earning a master’s in student affairs practice in higher education at the University of Virginia. Finally, Odejimi received her doctorate of education in leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University.
She previously served as coordinator for residence education and resident director at the University of Arkansas from 2009 to 2011, as athletics academic coordinator at the University of Virginia from 2011 to 2014, as the dean of students at St. Margaret’s School — a private school in Virginia — from 2014 to 2019 and as dean of students for Bowdoin College since 2019.
Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Enku Gelaye noted that she is “delighted” that Odejimi will be joining the Emory community.
“She’s a great fit for that critical role,” Gelaye wrote in the press release. “Kristina has a collaborative spirit, a passion for student engagement and a demonstrated commitment to student flourishing. She brings the knowledge and experience we were seeking when we created this position as a vital part of our strategic direction.”
Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students were also consulted throughout the dean selection process and their voices were “pivotal” in Odejumu’s selection.
Members of the search committee included co-chairs Vice President of Campus Life David Clark and Center for Women Director Chanel Tanner (18G), as well as Emory Police Department Chief Cheryl Elliott, Olivia Johnson (20G, 23G), Siva Kalimuthu (23B), Johannes Kleiner (20G), Student Health Services Medical Director Mario Majette, outgoing Student Government Association President Noah Marchuck (24C), Assistant Manager of Staff Development and Engagement Venus Miller, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Deboleena Roy and Associate Director of Student Engagement at Rollins School of Public Health Joanne Williams (18PH).
In her upcoming role, Odejimi will partner with colleagues throughout the University to support student flourishing. She will also “build a distinctive Emory student experience” by managing eight departments in charge of enhancing students’ sense of belonging: the 1915 Scholars Program, Belonging and Community Justice, the Center for Civic and Community Engagement, the Office of Parent and Family Programs, Student Case Management and Intervention Services, the Office of Student Conduct, Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions and the Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation and Dialogue.
“Dean Gelaye and I share a commitment to ensuring an exceptional student experience at Emory,” Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Ravi Bellamkonda wrote in the press release. “Kristina has dedicated her career to championing student growth and development. She believes that belonging, well-being and purpose can empower students to make a difference in their communities and serve humanity — and that aligns with our mission.”
Currently, Odejimi provides oversight for Bowdoin College’s THRIVE, a collection of programs that supports students of color, first-generation college students and low-income students. THRIVE aims to further Bowdoin’s “commitment to historically excluded students” and transform students’ college experiences from “one that students simply survive into a time in which they thrive.”
At Bowdoin, her responsibilities include counseling and wellness services, health services and student accessibility. She also leads the Office of the Dean of Students, which includes supervision of all class deans, student conduct, case management, international student services and new student orientation.
“Emory is committed to empowering students to grow in ways that not only prepare them to be their best selves but also to be critical voices and change agents in the communities they will soon enter,” Odejimi wrote in the press release. “I’m thrilled to join Campus Life and embrace Emory’s ongoing commitment to excellence, student flourishing and service to humanity.”
Correction (3/14/23 at 4:36 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Kristina Bethea Odejimi’s responsibilities at Emory will include counseling and wellness services, health services, student accessibility and leading the Office of the Dean of Students. In fact, these responsibilities were a part of her current role as Bowdoin College Dean of Students.
Ashley Zhu (she/her) (25C) is from Dallas, Texas, majoring in biology and minoring in sociology. She is the vice president of recruitment for the Residence Hall Association, a sophomore advisor for Raoul Hall and a staff writer for the Emory Undergraduate Medical Review. She is involved in cell biology research at the Pallas Lab and is a BIOL 141 Learning Assistant. Zhu enjoys FaceTiming her dog, stalking people's Spotify playlists and listening to classical music in her free time.