Q&A with Acting Dean of Students, Dr Gregory Roper
Dr. Gregory Roper, Associate Professor of English, assumed the responsibilities of Acting Dean of Students on August 6, 2021. As a esteemed fellow among his peers, in Irving and Rome, he is the first faculty member to have taken this position for decades.
University news had the opportunity to sit down with Roper and discuss his duties, experiences, and interesting quirks that make up his role as Acting Dean.
Q. “When were you appointed Acting Dean of Students, and what position did you hold before?”
A. “I assumed all the responsibilities on August 6th. Before that, I was – and remain – an associate professor of English. I think I’m the first faculty member to hold this position for a long time, maybe decades. ”
Q. “What are your duties as Acting Dean of Students?” “
A. “I supervise the Office of Student Affairs, the Counseling Center and the Health Clinic. The Student Affairs Office takes care of accommodation, residence life and student activities. Overall, this wonderful professional team takes care of many aspects of campus life, where and how you experience the activities you participate in. But it is important to see that all of this stems from the academic life which is the “raison d’être” of the student at the University of Dallas. We are a university, not a summer camp or a hotel, and university life is at the forefront of everything we do. The Student Life Office is therefore there to support and complete this academic life. “
Q. “What makes you different from any of the previous deans? “
A. “A really stupid sense of humor, a love for Chaucer and the poet Gwain, a tendency to quote GK Chesterton, a lack of fine motor skills and general incompetence.”
Q. “What are your goals as Acting Dean of Students? “
A. “I would love to see us bring a sense of Chestertonian and Tolkian adventure and play into our lives together on campus. I would like to see the wisdom of the Core permeate the daily life of students, so that students see the Core and its wisdom as having a direct impact on their attempts to achieve eudaimonia, the life well lived. (Please note that in the previous sentence I didn’t use the word ‘impact’ as a verb. One of my main goals as Acting Dean of Students is to make sure that no one in my office is never uses “impact” as a verb.) The Fundamental and Catholic anthropology has such vast and deep resources to help students understand the important issues in their lives, and I would like to help students see their daily struggles, their stress, their anxieties – and their triumphs – in a new and rich way that the core and Catholic Anthropology provides.
Q. “How do you live the core values of the university in this position?” “
A. “Uhhh…. usually I get up, exercise, have a cup of tea and get to work…!
More seriously? I still have a quote on the door of my Braniff office from the Orthodox Bishop of London, and it says – I’m going to quote it wrong because I don’t have it in front of me: “the only person in your life in this moment is the person in front of you, and the only thing you have to do is do, right now, what is right and charitable for that person. Then he goes on to say, “In this way he cannot. there will never be any circumstances that prevent you from praying. Ora et labora, right?
Q. “How do you personally communicate with students? “
A. “I imagine that most of them would say: ‘very badly’; I’m actually a bit of an introvert. But a long time ago I found out that I find college age students interesting, weird, frustrating, confusing, and exciting, so I keep hanging out and annoying them with my presence. I would like to have the gifts of Saint Philippe Neri in this department, and continue to pray to him to teach me how he did it. So far he has apparently had other people’s prayers to pass on to the Holy Spirit… ”
Q. “How has Covid-19 affected your experience in this position? “
Ah ah! You make me laugh. Next question.”
Q. “What are your plans after this period of your life? “
A. “Well, my dream has always been to play an attacking midfielder role for the Brazilian national football team, so maybe I’ll give it a shot then. I’d settle for the Dutch though – sometimes I’m pretty good in orange.
According to Dr. Tammy Leonard, the Acting Marshal, “The role of Dean of Students at UD really requires someone to wear a lot of hats – and even more during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Roper has done a wonderful job. He enthusiastically took on the many challenges of the job with a tremendous amount of energy and dedication.
Roper is expected to continue working as an interim until the fall semester as the search for the new permanent dean of students continues at a rapid pace. The finalists for the position are expected to visit the campus in the coming weeks.