Ajay Nair, Dean of Campus Life

Last year, there was a new man on campus, and he’s made a huge impact so far.

When Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair joined the Emory community last year, he brought a lot of experience with him. Previously, he served as Senior Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a dean at Emory, he is the students’ chief advocate, he said.

“I lead a talented team in the Division of Campus Life in advancing education into action and delivering world-class programs and services, [which] promotes a healthy and sustainable environment where students live what they learn and learn what they live for self and society,” Nair wrote in an email to the Wheel.

Nair steers the strategic direction of Emory, “cultivating an ethically-engaged community consistent with Emory’s vision.” On top of that, Nair handles everything from intercollegiate athletics and Greek life to student health services and residence life.

Last year, he worked with the community to develop the “Campus Life Compact for Building an Inclusive Community at Emory,” a report of recommendations responding to growing concerns about issues of race, gender and more. He also led the Open Expression Taskforce to examine Emory policies regarding dissent and protest.

In the process, many students have found that Nair is extremely connected through social media. Students are constantly updated through his Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Emory Bubble, Tumblr and Twitter. He even worked with Emory Bubble to create a social media platform centered around the Emory community. With all this experience under his belt, he is more than equipped to give new freshman some advice for their college careers.

“Dream big! Anything is possible at Emory,” he wrote. “Be sure to use all of the resources available to you to make the most of your Emory experience.”

Bridget Riordan, Dean of Students

Having been at the university for more than 20 years, Emory’s Dean of Students Bridget Riordan knows a thing or two about the freshman experience.

“It can be overwhelming,” Riordan said. “The key is to decide on a focus.”

That’s not just her Emory knowledge talking. Riordan held positions at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Pittsburgh before coming to Atlanta. Fall 2013 will mark her seventh year as Dean of Students.

It’s a unique position, one that allows her to work closely with the incoming freshman class as well as senior leaders of campus groups and organizations. She supervises the offices at Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Life, Sorority and Fraternity Life and Student Leadership and Service among others.

Her close relationship with these students is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Students can approach her at her office in the Dobbs University Center but often are referred by a staff member.

“I love watching the growth and development of these students from freshman to senior year,” Riordan said.

Unlike many administrative positions, interaction with students is a crucial part of Riordan’s job. She welcomes the opportunity to interact with freshmen and help them find ways to better themselves.

“My job is to give students the resources they need to succeed – not just academically, but beyond that,” she said.

Her main advice to incoming freshmen is to get involved with campus activities early and often, chiefly in activities where they can wholeheartedly commit themselves.

“Look at activities that will help you develop as a value-based person,” Riordan said.

According to Riordan, Emory has a wide selection of activities, clubs and organizations that fit the bill. “We’ve got a ton of great opportunities as long as students take advantage of them,” she said.

The benefits of these programs extend beyond a student’s four years at Emory, Riordan said, mentioning her experience as president of her sorority at Ball State University (Ind.).

“It helped me in learning how to deal with individuals and individual differences,” she said.

Just as these qualities help Riordan in her job today, qualities instilled by programs at Emory can last a lifetime. Riordan is here to make sure that they do.