Georgian Court is well known for its tight-knit community and approachable faculty and staff. The newest member of the leadership team will only enhance this warm atmosphere.
Ms. Sharmay Wood, the incoming Dean of Students, served at Lake Superior State University in Michigan as their Associate Director and then Director of Campus Life from 2009 to 2021, and as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs until 2022. She brings her passion for student engagement and collaborative leadership style with her to Georgian Court. We sat down with Ms. Wood to discuss her new role at Georgian Court and her past work in higher education:
What excites you about Georgian Court University?
The campus is not only beautiful, but it is rich in history. Its founding by the Sisters of Mercy has influenced the university’s values today, especially its focus on women’s issues. The fact that Georgian Court embraces its legacy makes it stand apart from other universities.
In addition, I am looking forward to continuing to work at a small university where there are many opportunities to connect with students.
What are your initial goals as the new Dean of Students?
My biggest goal is to increase student engagement. Higher education is still recovering from the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it all the more important to strengthen student life and student organizations. We will be revamping Welcome Week with exciting themes and events to help GCU students feel they belong as soon as they arrive on campus. I want their transition to be smooth and set the tone for an awesome upcoming school year.
I also look forward to condensing our social media presence. The Instagram account @georgiancourtlife will be the go-to place for students to find out about the latest happenings in student affairs.
Overall, I hope to use my creativity to adapt to the ever-changing nature of higher education. I believe it is important to produce fresh ideas with each new class of students.
What type of relationship do you hope to have with the student body?
I want to be the students’ biggest advocate and cheerleader. I hope that students will feel comfortable chatting with me, inviting me to their extracurricular events, and providing feedback about their student life experiences.
In my previous position as Director of Campus Life and then Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Lake Superior State University in Michigan, students felt comfortable enough to share their exam grades with me when they were proud of themselves for studying really hard. I want Georgian Court students to feel like they can celebrate their student experience with me; that is the ultimate goal.
How would you describe your leadership style?
First and foremost, I am collaborative. Reaching my goals always means including my team.
I also lead with excitement. Having many large goals can feel daunting, but maintaining excitement about what I am working on keeps me moving forward.
Lastly, I lead with strong communication. When a whole university community is working towards one vision, that is when the magic happens. To get there, you need clear and continuous communication.
What is one piece of advice you wish you could give your college-aged self that you would like to pass on to Georgian Court students?
One piece of advice I would give both my younger self and current GCU students is to embrace the unpredictable. I didn’t know my path would lead me to work in student affairs, but I am so grateful that it did. My dad once said, “Don’t try to force your future into a picture-perfect box; instead, be ready for the unexpected.” Those words have really helped me along the way.
How can students best get in touch with you?
My office is on the first floor of the Casino, and I have an open-door policy. Whenever I am available, my door will be open for students to visit, ask questions, eat lunch with me, or just chat. I am also accessible by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our Instagram page @georgiancourtlife for updates regarding student affairs. Look out for upcoming events for students to connect with me in the fall!