NECC Announces New Dean of Students
Eager and empathetic, doctoral candidate Jonathan L. Miller, Northern Essex’s new dean of student affairs, hopes students feel comfortable approaching him with whatever issue or problem they may be attempting to resolve.
“If they don’t know where else to go, I want them to know they can contact me,” says the Pennsylvania native. “If I can’t assist them, I will connect them with the person who can.”
Students can expect an advocate and ally in Miller, he says. “I’m student-focused and put the student first as best I can, but I do expect them to take responsibility as well.”
“I am thrilled to welcome Dean Miller to our Student Affairs leadership team,” said Dr. Jennifer Mezquita, assistant vice president of student affairs. “He is an experienced higher education professional and I look forward to introducing him to our faculty, staff and most importantly our students.”
The 41-year-old is a self-described “people person” who appreciates interacting with the students.
“I’m a good listener,” said Miller, who graduated with a bachelor’s in human development and family studies from The Pennsylvania State University, “And listening to students goes a long way.”
Miller comes to NECC from Delta College in Saginaw, Michigan, where he has served as dean of students since June of 2016. His arrival at NECC does not signal his first run in New England or community colleges for that matter. From 2010 to 2016 he served as assistant dean for student life & leadership at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. Prior to that he held positions at Trinity College in Connecticut and Pennsylvania’s Alleghany College and Susquehanna University.
Miller was a third-year chemistry major with aspirations of medical school, he said, when he realized he was on the wrong track. He was involved with numerous groups on campus and regularly interacted with student affairs.
“I started to wonder, ‘How do you get into this line of work?’” he said. A little research showed him the way and he pivoted his major to human development. He earned a master’s in student personnel from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and has is a few courses and a dissertation away from earning a doctorate of education in community college leadership program at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan.
Miller finds himself back in Massachusetts with his husband and their 13-year-old chihuahua-papillon mix who answers to Foxy. They are settling into their new Haverhill residence and look forward to exploring all the great things the area has to offer.
“I had every intention of returning to New England,” he said. “What attracted me to Northern Essex is its focus on student engagement and student success. That’s important to me.”
“As I think about our Integrated Student Experience and the important work ahead, Dean Miller’s passion to serve and advocate for students will help us continue to cultivate a sense of belonging and holistic support for our students,” Mezquita said.
In his role as Dean of Students, Miller will supervise Civic Engagement, Learning & Community Resources, Counseling and Psychological Services, Community Standards, Student Life and Veterans and Military Services. In addition, he will work closely with our faculty to support students who are referred to our Care and Concern Outreach Team.
“Overall, I am encouraged by his experience but most importantly by his positivity, can do attitude and ability to engage with students and those he will supervise,” Mezquita said.
While working with students online took some adjusting, Miller said he is now accustomed to it and doesn’t anticipate any distractions when working with NECC students. He also doesn’t anticipate any drastic changes implemented any time soon.
“I find, when you are new, it is important to learn what is successful and what the challenges are then work to improve them,” he said. “For the first three to six months there may not be any new initiatives.
He will, he said, continue to work on engagement, success, and retention.
“All I really want to do is to help the students be successful,” he said.