Jim Hoppe accepts Dean position at Emerson College

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Dean of Students Jim Hoppe has been appointed Vice President and Dean of Student Life of Emerson College in Boston, where he will begin work in Fall 2016. The new appointment was first announced to the Macalester community via the Daily Piper on Jan. 12. Hoppe has been Dean of Students since 2007. The search for a new Dean of Students will begin later this semester.

In an announcement through Emerson College President M. Lee Pelton, also released on Jan. 12, Hoppe said: “I am honored to be selected as vice president and dean for campus life, following the legacy of Ron Ludman. This is an exciting time to become an Emersonian and it will be a privilege to work with the community to craft a transformative student experience.”

Hoppe will succeed Dean Ron Ludman of Emerson, who retired last summer. The college’s interim dean is Sharon Duffy.

“We will miss his presence, his humor, his creativity, his insights and his wisdom,” Vice President of Student Affairs Donna Lee wrote in a statement. “Macalester will forever benefit from the gift of the beautiful and powerful legacy he will leave behind … a legacy marked by compassion, empathy, sensitivity and care. He has made an indelible impact on countless lives, including mine.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Hoppe expressed the difficulty he had making the decision to leave.

“My time is here, my heart has been here,” he said. “You know, this has been home for a long time. It really comes down to the fact that the opportunity at Emerson was just too good to pass up.”

Hoppe will oversee Athletics, Career Services, Health and Wellness, Counseling and Psychological Services, Housing and Residence Life, Student Activities, Multicultural/GLBTQ Student Affairs and Spiritual Life at Emerson. He will also collaborate with Academic Affairs, Enrollment, Diversity and Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs and student leadership.

“One of the things I love about my job here is the amount of work I get to do every day with students,” Hoppe said. “But as I think about what I also want to accomplish in my career, the chance to provide a vision for a whole division, that, in turn, is gonna be working every day with students, it’s that next step for me. So, you know, I’ll take a lot of the things I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve gathered and try to see with a team of people if we can’t put that into place on a broad scale.”

Hoppe said he will miss the students most.

“I think what I will miss most is the spirit that people here aren’t afraid to be who they are, and kind of embrace their passions and ask hard questions,” Hoppe said. “I can’t say that enough, but it’s twelve years of relationships . . . One thing that I’m confident on is that I’ll continue those relationships I’ve already started into the future.”

Hoppe has already contacted Boston alumni with whom he plans to get in touch upon his arrival there. “I’m never [going to] truly leave Macalester.”

After this week’s legislative body meeting, several MCSG members approached a Mac Weekly reporter to share their thoughts and stories about Hoppe, whom they spoke of as a patient listener.

Student representatives said that Hoppe, who serves as the advisor for MCSG, has allowed them to make their own decisions and to learn from their mistakes.

Student body President Ian Calaway ’16 has known Hoppe since his first year at Macalester.

“I have a great respect for him in the capacity that he understands the growth we as students are trying to achieve, and he helps that facilitate that in a lot of ways,” Calaway said. “I’ve never in my life seen somebody be a part of a community and be so respected by all the members of the community.”

“There’s so many times [when I’ve been] sitting in a meeting, and I’m like, you know Jim’s been doing this for a lot of years,” Andrea Grimaldi ’16 said.“He treats everything [we come up with] like it’s the first time [he’s heard it]. We learn through the experience of doing it. And I’m sure he thinks that a lot of our [decisions] might be mistakes, but he is like, ‘This is your game and you’re playing it.’ And I think that’s pretty cool about him.”

Representatives recalled their personal experience with Hoppe.

Dan Yee ’16, a St. Louis native, recalled Hoppe’s presence and assistance as Yee struggled with the stress of having friends who briefly disappeared during last year’s Ferguson riots. Suveer Daswani ’18 remembered Hoppe’s comforting presence in his first days as a student rep, and a speech Hoppe has traditionally given at the end of each MCSG retreat, in which each student is handed a marble that represents the world, to remind them of their power to change it. And Harper Fauni ’16, who is transgender, expressed her gratitude to Hoppe for his careful attention to her needs as she transitions.

“I wish Jim Hoppe the best wherever he goes,” Fauni said. “Everyone knows that the students all love him. And hopefully he does not forget that.”