BY SEAN ANN KELLY
SC STAFF WRITER
In a big office just underneath what they call “the president’s floor” is where you can find Doreen Tobin, PhD. That is, if you’re lucky—or by appointment only.
The Vice President of Student Affairs at East Stroudsburg University spends little time behind her desk.
She loves nothing more than enjoying a lunch in Dansbury Commons with student leaders, attending live performances in the Abeloff Center for the Performing Arts, and watching basketball games in Koehler Fieldhouse.
Born in upstate New York, near Lake Placid, this proud mother of three daughters began her college career as a biology major at St. Lawrence University. Her father wanted her to become a doctor.
After realizing that she was not interested in being a doctor and dismissing the idea of a career spent in a laboratory, she decided to go back for her master’s degree in guidance and counseling and received this degree at St. Lawrence as well.
When asked why she chose to work in a higher education setting, she said “guidance counseling in high school is more limited” and she knew she had more to offer to college-aged students.
Dr. Tobin explained that the most important part of her role is the “interpersonal piece” because it allows her to interact with students at events and she is given the opportunity to listen to what the students have to say about ESU.
Tobin does not work a typical 9 AM to 5 PM desk job. She can be seen at events throughout campus throughout the day. An important part of her position on campus is being “fully present” at campus events and activities.
She chose her profession because she loves students and learning about their goals.
Lauren Zirkelbach, ESU student and president of student senate works very closely with Dr. Tobin on many student events and collaborations. She explained how “one thing that really stands out about working with Dr. Tobin, is her eagerness to keep us as students, as the main priority.”
Zirkelbach said she appreciates Dr. Tobin’s willingness to sit down with students to discuss questions, concerns and different ideas that she or other students may have.
One good analogy she made was the comparison between student affairs and a business.
“She realizes that the students are ‘customers’ of our University. If the customers aren’t happy, business won’t run smoothly. Dr. Tobin is a phenomenal role model here at ESU,” said Zirkelbach.
The appointment of Marcia G. Welsh PhD as the new President of ESU has had a positive influence on Tobin and her job in student affairs.
“Dr. Welsh comes with a strong appreciation of student affairs and believes in collaboration,” Tobin said. “She is student oriented and wants everyone to have the best experience here.”
Dr. Tobin said how public relations is a “huge” part of her role at ESU. She said that there are always cases of promoting positive student achievement and sometimes she has to deal with negative student publicity. Working closely with the university relations department is something that happens every day.
She explained how the most gratifying part of her position is meeting freshmen students and being able to see them walk across the stage at graduation. This is where she can appreciate how much they have grown throughout their college careers.
One of the ways Tobin and ESU are trying to connect students with the outside world is by opening a service learning office.
This office will connect faculty and students with service learning opportunities. It will streamline connections between ESU and the community. That office is expected open next fall.
Tobin also has to deal with students when things are not so good. Although it is a tough part of her job, she also explained how she has to make decisions that may lead to separating a student from the institution.
She is happy when these students in bad situations resolve their issues and can come back and succeed at ESU.
Tobin loves ESU because she has found a group of students who love their institution. “The students here appreciate their faculty and appreciate the opportunity to get an education,” she said.
She explained how she has seen so many people fall in love with this campus and is very proud to be a part of this university. But Tobin, along with other ESU leaders, also understands the importance of the university evolving and keeping current with its technologies and facilities.
The Innovation Center, the Keystone Center, and the new dorm facilities are all opportunities for ESU to grow and continue to thrive.
Tobin said the new dorms have impacted student affairs in lots of ways because “we needed to keep up with other schools. They are full of choices.”
All of these improvements at the university contribute to fulfilling the ideal college experience for each student.
“The most important part of the college experience is getting involved because it makes all different things come together,” Tobin said.
She explained how high school is a series of cliques whereas college is an opportunity to explore things outside of those boundaries. “You can’t just go to class.”
She urged the idea of freshmen joining clubs “even if it is just one,” so they can explore all that this university has to offer.
Many students do not even realize all of the resources offered by ESU. Tobin said that she wishes that students took more advantage of the counseling services offered through her office.
For many, college is the first time that they have lived on their own without structure. Others can find difficulty adjusting to living away from home and their families. The student affairs office can assist these students by providing them with emotional support and counseling services that will allow them to express their problems and seek guidance by trained professionals.
“Everyone has issues and the counseling center is free to students,” Tobin said.
Although it may seem as if Tobin is always on campus, she does have interests outside the university.
In her spare time, Tobin can be found engaging in what she refers to as “more solitary hobbies” when she is not on the job. She enjoys gardening, reading, and the domestic arts. She also enjoys spending time working out in the recreation center or spending a weekend away from her hectic work schedule.
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