#SATBT Student Affairs Throwback Thursday: Doreen Hettich-Atkins

Doreen Hettich-Atkins

Current Position and Institution:
Senior Assistant to the Associate Provost for Student Life, Ithaca College

First Position and Institution:
Residence Director, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (formerly the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science)

USP - w Lisa Hughes

USP dinner dance - approx 1987I was a year out of my undergraduate program and didn’t have a Master’s degree yet, but knew I wanted to get into student affairs. Even without a Master’s Degree I had still applied for positions all around the country. After my interview, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get called back because I had jokingly answered a question about my disciplinary style with the response, “I have size 13 feet and I’m not afraid to use them!” (Geez, bad interviewing form.) But, I received a call the next morning offering me the live-in position. The Dean of Students even actually said that he liked my “tough love with a sense of humor” style.


USP is a small private school that specializes in training health care professionals. At the time there were approximately 2000 students enrolled. I served as a Residence Director in a 400 person hall that was called the “New” residence hall. It was one of two residential buildings on campus and I was one of two residential life staff. We served as residence directors and also did all other tasks typically associated with larger residential life offices including housing assignments, educational programming, maintenance and renovation, summer housing, staff selection and training, judicial officers, and on-call staff for the campus. As one of only 2 staff I was on-duty every other night and every other weekend in the era prior to cell phones so I spent A LOT of time on campus.


Indianapolis 4th year class trip 1995Because of the specialty nature of the institution, I learned a great deal about health care and the training of scientists and health care professionals. Students had common 7:30 am examinations by class year so I learned to enforce quiet hours, creative topical and timing of educational programs, and how to encourage students to improve their academic learning.


I also learned the importance of saying “Can I help?” I left the University of the Sciences 12 years later as an Associate Dean with experiences in EOP program counseling and administration, AOD programming and prevention, academic services including advising and tutoring, orientation, counseling, student organization advising and supervision, and much, much more because I was willing to ask “Can I help?”

The #SATBT series asks higher education and student affairs professionals to share a picture and reflect on a memory and/or one of the most important lessons the learned from their first job in the field.

Consider contributing your story for potential inclusion in the book version…

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