New dean keys on building relationships
At first glance, the young man in the Baker polo shirt looks like a campus athlete, perhaps a member of the football team. A closer examination shows the blond highlights might actually be gray and a few facial lines reveal that age can be deceiving.
At 39, John Frazier has put his own undergraduate school days behind him in favor of leading students as Baker's new dean of student development.
"I think students relate to me because I'm not that far removed from that generation," Frazier said. "Working at a university keeps you young, if not in body, then in spirit."
And the departments that Frazier oversees, Residence Life, Health and Counseling Services, the Career Development Center, Multicultural Affairs and Student Activities, include many hats he has worn before. He served as director of residence life, director of orientation and Greek Affairs and later director of internships at Ashland University in Ohio, director of the Annual Fund at Heidelberg College in Ohio, and academic adviser at Ohio State University.
He earned his bachelor's from Heidelberg College, his master's from the University of Akron and is currently working on his doctorate at Azusa Pacific University in California. In his undergraduate years, he played football and baseball, served as a resident assistant and was involved in the Greek system and student government.
"John's an experienced student development professional. He understands the importance of student development in the full liberal arts school experience," said Jamie Comstock, vice president and dean of the college of arts and sciences. "I'm confident he is the right person to help us integrate student development with student learning to promote student success."
Frazier said his past positions and student involvement would help him better understand the departments he oversees and the students he works with at Baker.
"Heidelberg and Ashland are both much like Baker," Frazier said. "I can relate to students and staff from a variety of experiences, and I think that's important."
Frazier said he didn't come to Baker with pre-conceived ideas of changes he would like to see in student development. Instead, he plans to implement faculty, staff and student focus groups and review recommendations gained through the process. He plans to take a "hands-on" approach, going to athletic and music practices as well as games and performances.
"There are already many good things happening in student development," Frazier said. "We want to continue to grow and expand upon those things. In the end, I'm sure we'll come up with a great product and some revisions as needed to better serve our students."
Frazier said he was impressed with the philosophy and the people at Baker. He hopes to use a collaborative approach with his staff as well as students.
"The most critical thing to me is relationship building," he said. "It's all about getting to know people and knowing the ins and outs here. We have a very good student development staff, and when you have good professionals in place, you have to afford them the autonomy to do what needs to be done.
"I have an open door policy for students and staff. There's no issue too big or too small," he said.
Volunteer work and community involvement have followed Frazier in the communities he has called home. He was president of his Kiwanis Club of Ashland and served as lieutenant governor of his Ohio district division. He was active in Ashland's Chamber of Commerce and Ashland Community's "BalloonFest" celebration. Frazier hopes to find opportunities to become involved in the Baldwin City community as well. He said his wife, Kim, son Howard, 4, and daughter Meghan, 23 months, were happy to be here.
"We're small town people from Ohio," he said. "We knew Baker and Baldwin City were a good fit for us."