Dr. M. Debnam Chappell appointed Dean of Freshmen at Fairfield University
Dr. Orin Grossman, acting academic vice president at Fairfield University, has announced the appointment of Dr. M. Debnam Chappell as Dean of Freshmen. Dr. Chappell has been serving as acting dean since the retirement last June of Rev. Henry Murphy, S.J., who had served the University for nearly 40 years.
In making the announcement, Dr. Grossman said, "The Dean of Freshmen will play a vital role in shaping the academic experience of our first-year students and in coordinating and expanding the advising process. i have every confidence that dean chappell will continue to be an effective advocate for our students and will help develop strategies for more effective mentoring and advising."
As Acting Dean, Dr. Chappell updated and revised the "Academic Guidelines and Information for First Year Students," composed academic advising information and a guide for faculty, and devised and designed the "Academic Advising Guide for Students."
Working with Dr. Alan Katz, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, she composed a statement of the Honor Code which was signed by members of the Class of 2003 during September Orientation. The purpose of the Honor Code, she explained, "is to emphasize the importance of academics and the fact that honesty and integrity are central to this academic community."
As Dean of Freshmen Dr. Chappell will be responsible for retention of first-year students and chair the University-wide Retention Committee. She will work with the Office of Admission during recruitment of first-time freshmen and transfer freshmen, organizing the academic component of June Orientation and September Orientation and working closely with students who are having academic difficulties to foster academic success.
Dr. Chappell plans to expand the seminars she introduced this past year on time management, study skills, test taking and reading comprehension. In addition, she will be holding meetings with students in residence halls that have a large population of first-year students to discuss registration and academic issues in an informal, social venue.
While her overall task is to foster students' academic success, Dr. Chappell said her goal as an educator "is to enable all students to find the power, the tools and the gifts from within to succeed, not only academically, but also personally."
After a number of years of teaching in the English Department, Dr. Chappell became assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1994. She was promoted to associate dean in 1997. Prior to Fairfield, she worked in the corporate world as a programmer and systems analyst, trainer and manager.
A graduate of the College of William and Mary with a degree in mathematics and a minor in secondary education, she holds a master's degree in English with a major in Medieval Literature and a minor in Irish Literature from the University of Bridgeport. She earned a doctorate in English from New York University, with a major in Victorian Literature.
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Posted on February 5, 2000
Vol. 32, No. 156