Walking the Halls with Dr. Brad Kovaleski, the New Dean of Students

In January 2023, the College welcomed Dr. Brad Kovaleski as the new dean of students. 

Dr. Kovaleski comes to CCP from Penn State University’s Brandywine campus, where, as the senior student affairs officer, he worked toward and saw an increase in retention and graduation rates as well as student affairs programming and services outreach. He also served in leadership positions for the Chief Student Affairs Leadership Council, Strategic Planning Transforming Education Committee and Student Conduct Task Force. 

Maybe you’ve seen him around Main Campus at an event or in the halls. It wouldn’t be surprising since Dr. Kovaleski makes it a priority to get to as many activities as he can! 

We gave Dr. Kovaleski a bit of time to get acclimated at the College before we sat down to ask him a host of questions about his new position and what to expect from his arrival. Let’s see what he had to say: 

Q: Welcome to CCP, Dr. Kovaleski! Please tell us, the CCP community, a little about yourself.

A: I am a Pennsylvania native with a background in student affairs that has now worked, lived, and learned in all four corners of the state. I have had the privilege of serving in a variety of positions over the past 19+ years. Most recently, I worked at Penn State University’s Brandywine campus, where I was able to contribute my expertise in organizational learning and leadership while serving as the senior Student Affairs officer and director of Student Affairs. 

One of the things that motivates me most in my work is my passion for helping students learn, grow, and succeed. Students truly give me energy and motivate me every day! When I'm not working, I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking and exploring nature. Spending time with family and friends is always a top priority for me. I also enjoy some quality time decompressing through video games. Unfortunately, I spend most of my time gaming losing to all my friends at Madden, FIFA and 2K.

Q: The College is excited to have you join the Pride! What are you most excited about now that you’ve officially joined the College and have started as dean of students?

A: I am most excited about the opportunity to interact with students on a daily basis. As the dean of students, I am looking forward to working with students in various stages of their CCP experience. It's a privilege to be able to celebrate, educate and support students no matter what their needs are. I must admit that I am both humbled and excited by this opportunity. The students are the heart of our mission, and I cherish every moment spent working with them--even when things may get hard.

Q: What top three (3) things are most important to you as you assume this new leadership role?

A: As I step into this new leadership role, there are three key things that I will prioritize above all else: that I am present, visible and approachable. It is important to be available to students and my colleagues to ensure we are connecting people and resources to best support our students to succeed. I want to be present, both physically and mentally, by showing up to events, meetings, and discussions with a focused and engaged mindset. By being visible, I hope to foster a sense of transparency and accountability. And by endeavoring to be approachable, I hope all members of the College community feel comfortable coming to me with their questions, ideas and concerns.

Q: If there was one event you could have attended here at the College prior to your arrival, what would it have been and why?

A: If I could have attended one event at the College prior to my arrival, it would have been orientation. As someone who has worked in higher education for over 19 years, orientation is my favorite program. This is where the student collegiate experience truly starts to feel real. The energy, the excitement and the celebratory nature of this experience is almost always awe-inspiring. Seeing a student walk away with a schedule in hand and proudly showing it to their family members as they embark on this journey is quite amazing. The student is excited, their family is excited, the College is excited! What a wonderful event and kick off their CCP experience!

Q: What can the College expect to see or feel as you grow into your role and maybe even a year from now?

A: As I grow into my role, the College can expect to see me focused on building relationships with students and colleagues alike. I believe these relationships are the foundation of a strong and successful institution. This includes transparency and availability in the programs and services we provide, the resources available online and the rationale and intention behind the creation of these things. The student and their success are always at the center of why and how we operate. 

I look forward to fostering a team that works collaboratively with students, colleagues, and community members to cultivate a welcoming, inclusive, and student-centered culture. We will be strong advocates for the inclusion of learning outcomes and using systematic ways to assess, improve, and renew services. We will be looking at ways to measure student engagement, students’ sense of belonging, and the impact of what we do on student success. We will use benchmark data to measure programs against peer institutions and utilize best practices to enhance organizational impact and success.  

Q: As we know, students are the center of why and how the College operates. Can you explain why and how student affairs and student engagement and interaction affect operations around the rest of the College?

A: Student affairs serves as a bridge between departments and divisions, a mediator between students and the College, as an advocate for students and so much more. Something I find myself continually reminding colleagues (wherever I work) is, students are here to learn and grow. Sometimes that means they’ll make mistakes and it’s incumbent on us to ensure we embrace those mistakes as learning opportunities, NOT purely with punitive measures.

Research has demonstrated time and time again that one of the most, if not the most, impactful strategy for ensuring a student is successful is if they can develop high-quality, relationship-rich interactions. Student affairs creates opportunities for those interactions to take place, and help make this large place feel more personal for the students. This all contributes to a greater sense of belonging, enhancing collaborative learning opportunities and builds bridges across divisions by providing opportunities for faculty and staff to then engage with students in a variety of ways. 

Q: Student success: What does that mean and look like to you?

A: This is a complicated and simple question...so I'm going to stick with the simple response. Student success means we’ve helped the student achieve their greatest potential. That could be attaining credits to help them continue their education elsewhere, completing a certificate program, and/or graduating from CCP. Answering these questions, ‘Where does a student want to go?’ and ‘How do we help them get there?’ will lead to student success.

Q: If you have a message to students, what would you like them to know?

A: I am here as a resource and an advocate, and I am so very excited to work with you!

During our conversation, Dr. Kovaleski expressed excitement about joining the College and fostering relationships with students, his colleagues and others throughout the College community. He’s really interested in getting to meet everyone. We also found out this fun fact: CCP Lions can call him Dr. Brad or Dean Brad! 

Interested in meeting with Dean Brad? He’s located in Winnet Student Life Building, Suite S1-10A.