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Meet James Sturm, D’Youville’s New Dean of Students

Meet James Sturm, D’Youville’s New Dean of Students

As the new dean of students, James Sturm is bringing a wealth of experience to the position. Jim comes to D’Youville after spending 17 years at Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY. His most recent role was as Vice Provost for Leadership Development and Dean of Students, where he helped improve student retention and oversaw the development of student and parent orientation programs.

Sturm earned his bachelor’s degree in communication/media from SUNY Fredonia and his master’s degree in college counseling/college student personnel from SUNY at Buffalo.

We caught up with the new dean for an interview to discuss his role here and why he got into higher education in the first place.

What was it about D’Youville that made you want to apply and ultimately accept the position?

Everyone I knew at D'Youville is just very friendly and seemed happy in their work. It made the position very attractive when I saw it advertised. I want to be a valued part of a strong team, and I think that is what’s happening here at D'Youville. D’Youville is making very positive moves and continues to grow and innovate and I would like to be a part of that and contribute to the College's success.

What excites you about your new role here?

The thing that always excites me is working with students. It may sound trite, but that is the reason we as educators get into this field. I really enjoy working with the students and helping them reach their goals. I also enjoy the ability to be creative and design and implement new programs and initiatives. I am looking forward to that opportunity here.

Do you have any immediate or short-term goals you’d like to tackle right away?

At least in the short term my number one priority is to get to know the position and the students. Once I can interact with students, that will give me a much better idea of what initiatives will be most important. I have a lot of learning to do over the next few weeks before the fall semester begins so that I can be ready and useful when classes begin.

So, what made you want to pursue a career in higher education?

As an undergraduate I was active as an orientation assistant and resident assistant. When I found out that you could actually do that work for a living, I was hooked. I have now been working in student life professionally for 28 years and I continue to be excited to go to work every morning.  

What’s the most rewarding part about working in higher education?

I love seeing what students can accomplish. I am so happy to hear from alumni on what they are doing and how they are succeeding. It’s like having thousands of your own children and it is fun to see what they can accomplish. Nothing means more to me than those students who stay in touch because that is when you know, that in some small way, you have made a difference to them.

I see the word “Leadership” in your resume a lot — do you have your own definition of it? And what, in your opinion, makes a good leader?

I believe, and have always taught, that good leadership begins with good relationships. Being able to build strong relationships is a skill and can overcome a lot of other weaknesses. When people feel respected, trusted, and valued, they will perform at very high levels. A great leader knows that strong followers make the leader and works to empower and enable those around them.

Do you have any family in the area?

I actually grew up in Eden, NY and my mother and several of my brothers and sisters (I have ten brothers and sisters) still live in the area, so I spend a lot time with them.

What are you doing when you’re not at work? Any hobbies?

When I’m not working, you can find me enjoying sports in some sort of way — especially baseball and lacrosse. I played and coached lacrosse for many years. I also like to read, play guitar and, as a big guy, to eat!  

So, what do you like to read?

I like reading books about leadership and enjoy John Wooden, Ken Blanchard, and Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.

I’m a big fantasy and science fiction novel kind of guy. Some of my favorite books are by J. R. R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and Terry Brooks. Some of my other favorite authors include Kathy Reichs, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. 

The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Posner) is one of my favorite non-fiction books and The Lord of the Rings is my all-time favorite.

 It’s nice to read just for fun! 


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