Monday, August 19, 2013

Meet Ben Foster, the new assistant dean of students

Many Randolph students remember the moment they realized Randolph would be perfect for them. Ben Foster, the new assistant dean of students, knows exactly what it is like to have that realization.

In fact, when he received a job offer at another institution, Foster turned it down so he could continue interview process at Randolph.

“The more I learned about Randolph, the more I liked and the more fascinated I became,” he said.

Foster grew up in Massachusetts and attended Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., where he majored in history and studied Japanese imperialism in Northern China. He assumed he would go on to earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in the subject until he had an epiphany. “I woke up one morning and realized that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life studying Northern China,” Foster recalled. “So I joined the Peace Corps.”

After serving in Jamaica, where he dug latrines and taught people about water sanitation, he returned to the United States, married his college sweetheart, Claire, and started working in an academic living/learning program at his alma mater. He also earned a master’s in business administration while at Union.

Foster admits he has too many hobbies: painting, fencing, rock climbing, and video gaming are just a few. He also has been learning to play the violin. His office decorations include a character from the cartoon Adventure Time, stuffed animals, his alma mater’s mascot, and a chessboard. He bikes to work almost every day, and his furniture includes a standing desk to keep him active.

In his new position at Randolph, Foster will oversee residential life, student leadership and engagement, activities, orientation, and the administration of social conduct aspects of the Honor Code. He looks forward to working closely with students, who impressed him during his first campus visit.

“During my interview process, I was able to talk with students and engage with them. They were very different from what I was used to,” he said. “Students get a lot of bad rap these days for being ‘checked out’ and not engaged, but that was not the case here at all.”

Foster’s main goal this year is to meet students and faculty and learn more about the College. “I have a lot to learn. There’s an incredible history here,” he said. “My meta-goal is to become a part of the daily life at Randolph.”