Interview with Mr. Paul Pugh, Dean of Students.
Fresh@News: This is your first year as Dean of Students. How do you see
Dean Pugh: I am extremely excited about my appointment as the Dean of
Students. I was a Villanova graduate myself, and I taught here for a
number of years in the Naval Science department. What interested me
most about being the Dean of Students was the opportunity to work with
students in their development as total persons, intellectually,
socially, physically, spiritually and morally.
Specifically, I work closely with issues involving student conduct
and behavior, both on and off campus. I work with the residence life
staff, new student orientation, counseling center, and with our drug and
alcohol education programs. I believe it is the combination of what
students assimilate in the classroom combined with what they learn in
our residential living arrangement that makes the best learning
Fresh@News: Let's talk about the issues of conduct and behavior. What
are the University's behavioral expectations of the students?
Dean Pugh: Let me first emphasize that the majority of our students are
outstanding young men and women. During New Student Orientation I had
the opportunity to address every incoming student regarding expectations
the University has of them, as well as expectations they should have of
themselves. Of course I stressed that they should read our student
handbook and familiarize themselves with our policies (and ignorance is
no excuse when they violate those policies). I think our policies are
reasonable and reasonably enforced, and I expect students to comply with
them. But over and above following the rules, I also think that campus
life is an important learning experience for students. I stress that we
want students to respect themselves, their neighbors, and their physical
environment. In effect, I want them to make Villanova an even better
place than they found it, and I think that doing this will teach them a
great deal about who they are and how to live.
Each year a number of offices around campus choose a theme to unify
various programs. This year, our theme is "Choices that Matter," and
that sums up much of what we want our students to learn. We want our
students to learn that there are consequences to their behavior and
actions, and we also want them to learn that, just as in the rest of
society, they must be accountable for the decisions they make.
Fresh@News: What are some of the behavioral issues of greatest concern
Dean Pugh: Generally speaking, Villanova provides a safe and pleasant
environment for learning, and we have been blessedly free of many of the
problems we read about in other schools. But we have our issues and
problems as well. One thing that we are deeply concerned about is the
issue of underage drinking. Many colleges and universities are
struggling with this issue and we are as well. Not only does underage
drinking violate Pennsylvania law and Villanova policy, but also it
oftentimes leads to impaired judgment and poor decision making skills.
This in turn leads to other violations and a whole variety of other
problems. I cannot stress enough how often I see poor decisions that,
in one way or another, follow from underage drinking.
Fresh@News: What happens to those students who do not comply with the
Dean Pugh: We have a framework to deal with those students who for some
reason decide to operate outside the established parameters of
acceptable behavior. Sanctions are issued for those determined to be
responsible for their actions. Sanctions include warnings; disciplinary
probation; fines; community service; loss of on-campus housing
privileges; suspension and expulsion. The purpose of these sanctions is
to educate and deter future violations. Additionally, it is our policy
when a student is placed on disciplinary probation to notify the
parents. Our goal is that early intervention on the part of the parents
can also leverage appropriate behavior.
Fresh@News: What about counseling assistance for alcohol or drug usage
or other problems?
Dean Pugh: Villanova has a Center for Alcohol and Drug Assistance (CADA)
which provides a variety of programs to educate and help deter students
involved with alcohol and drug misuse. I work in combination with our
residence life staff and our University Counseling Center to ensure that
those students who are dealing with difficult emotional or physical
issues are provided assistance. The Residence Life staff has personnel
available 24 hours a day and is immediately available for assistance.
The University Counseling Center helps students with the normal
adjustments associated with moving off to college as well as dealing
with difficult emotional issues (please see a previous edition of
Fresh@news for more details on the Counseling Center).
Fresh@News: What advice do you have for parents?
Dean Pugh: I have had three children graduate from college, so I believe
I am familiar with parental concerns. Just because young men and women
leave home and go to college does not mean the love and support they
have enjoyed for years disappears. I would recommend that you keep open
those avenues for fruitful and open dialogue with your student. But
equally important, it is a time for your son or daughter to grow, to
make decisions and to assume greater independence. I would ask you as
parents to support us in encouraging your students to act responsibly
and to recognize that they are held accountable for their conduct.
Additionally, I encourage you to reinforce your expectations of how
they live their lives. I would especially ask you to discuss with them
the consequences of underage and irresponsible drinking. We on the
campus take this issue seriously and are addressing it through our
campus and community coalition. Overcoming this problem will require a
united and coordinated effort involving education, intervention and
Finally, please ask your students to ask for and seek help if they
need it -- that is why Villanova provides these resources. Your student
will not be the first student that needs assistance. While I believe
Villanova's collective staffs are talented in identifying student
concerns, sometimes we are not aware they exist. Early intervention and
assistance could be very beneficial.
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