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Odejimi to join Emory as Campus Life dean of students and associate vice president
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Sylvia Carson
Kristina K. Bethea Odejimi

Kristina K. Bethea Odejimi joins Emory Campus Life on June 1 as dean of students and associate vice president for belonging, engagement and community. In this role, she will partner with colleagues across Emory to support the university’s commitment to student flourishing.

After a nationwide search, Emory University has selected Kristina K. Bethea Odejimi as dean of students and associate vice president for belonging, engagement and community. Odejimi will serve as a visionary, collaborator and member of Campus Life’s executive leadership team, reporting to Enku Gelaye, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life.

As dean of students and associate vice president, Odejimi (pronounced O-Day-Juh-Me) will partner with colleagues at all levels of the institution to support Emory students and the university’s commitment to student flourishing. She will officially join the campus community June 1.

“I am delighted that Kristina is joining our outstanding Campus Life team as dean of students and associate vice president. She’s a great fit for that critical role,” says Gelaye. “Kristina has a collaborative spirit, a passion for student engagement and a demonstrated commitment to student flourishing. She brings the knowledge and experience we were seeking when we created this position as a vital part of our strategic direction.” 

With more than a decade of comprehensive experience in the student affairs profession, Odejimi currently serves as dean of students at Bowdoin College. Her responsibilities include counseling and wellness services, health services, student accessibility and the Office of the Dean of Students, which encompasses supervision of all class deans, student conduct, case management, international student services and new student orientation. 

At Bowdoin, Odejimi partners with academic affairs and also provides direct oversight for THRIVE— an institutional initiative to support students from first-generation and low-income backgrounds. Earlier in her career, Odejimi was dean of students with St. Margaret’s School in Virginia and also held positions at the University of Virginia and the University of Arkansas.

She earned her doctor of education in leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, a master’s in student affairs practice in higher education at the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s in sociology, anthropology and Black studies at Denison University.

“Dean Gelaye and I share a commitment to ensuring an exceptional student experience at Emory,” notes Emory Provost Ravi V. Bellamkonda. “Kristina has dedicated her career to championing student growth and development. She believes that belonging, well-being and purpose can empower students to make a difference in their communities and serve humanity—and that aligns with our mission. I am excited to see her create more opportunities and programming that foster a distinctive and memorable Emory experience for all our students.” 

Enhancing student belonging and engagement

In concert with Campus Life’s strategic realignment to build a distinctive Emory student experience, Odejimi will manage a portfolio of eight departments: 1915 Scholars Program; Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation and Dialogue; Belonging and Community Justice; Civic and Community Engagement; Parent and Family Programs; Student Case Management and Intervention Services; Student Conduct; and Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions. 

Individually and in partnership with one another, these departments are primarily responsible for programs and services that support and enhance students’ sense of belonging and their engagement with the university through community building, conflict resolution, leadership and involvement, and outreach.

Odejimi’s excitement in joining the team at Emory abounds. “Emory is committed to empowering students to grow in ways that not only prepare them to be their best selves but also to be critical voices and change agents in the communities they will soon enter,” she says. “I’m thrilled to join Campus Life and embrace Emory’s ongoing commitment to excellence, student flourishing and service to humanity.”

Over the years, Odejimi has presented or partnered on a range of presentations on student affairs topics. She is a member of several professional associations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA); ACPA - College Student Educators International; Association for Student Conduct Administration; Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education; NODA - Association for Orientation, Transition, Retention in Higher Education; and the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment. She serves currently on NASPA’s AVP Symposium Planning Committee, as program chair of the NASPA Region I Conference Planning Committee, and will begin her post in April on the NASPA AVP Steering Committee.

In her leisure time, Odejimi displays a lifelong passion for basketball as spectator and player. She enjoys traveling and trying a variety of cuisines. Music and shoes also make the list of her favorite things. “I love a good sneak,” she says. Odejimi is also a proud and active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

Through focused surveys and listening sessions, students, faculty and staff shared input as this position was developed and reconceptualized to support Emory’s dynamic student body. Graduate and undergraduate students actively engaged throughout the selection process, and their voices were pivotal in this hiring decision.

Campus Life is grateful for the tremendous time contributed by the search committee to shepherd this process. Gelaye and the Campus Life executive leadership team extend their profound appreciation to members of the committee for lending their time, energy and expertise to this important search. Members of the committee, which was co-chaired by David Clark and Chanel Tanner, were Cheryl Elliott, Olivia Johnson, Siva Kalimutha, Johannes Kleiner, Mario Majette, Noah Marchuk, Venus Miller, Deboleena Roy and Joanne Williams.

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