After a long search to find the College of Liberal Arts’ new vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, Lisa Landreman has been hired to assume these positions.
Currently, Landreman is finishing her final weeks at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, and preparing for her move to Salem in late June. In an interview with the Collegian, Landreman spoke about the upcoming transition into her new job, and how COVID-19 has affected it.
“A lot of people look at me and say, ‘Really? You’re moving in the middle of a pandemic?’ But really when I started this process, no way we would’ve known it would’ve looked like this,” said Landreman.
Landreman told the Collegian that when she decided she wanted to pursue a vice president position, she was “very selective” with what universities she applied to, and that in her search, Willamette “rose to the top” of her list. She explained that Willamette’s placement in the Colleges That Change Lives list and its commitment to the liberal arts were two aspects that initially attracted her to the campus.
“When I got there, I was so impressed with the students that I met and the staff and the faculty that I met. It just all coalesced, all the things that mattered to me. I just saw myself being able to build a happy life there,” Landreman said about visiting campus for the first time.
When asked what part of her new job she is most excited about, Landreman said she is excited to learn about the intricacies of Willamette, including traditions and special events. She also expressed her excitement to get to know students and the other Student Affairs employees.
“I’m really excited to get to know the student body president and other organization leaders. And reach out and connect to students who feel like they haven’t been connected to before, or don’t even know what a vice president does. I’m hoping that I can reintroduce them to all that is possible when students want to engage with administrators in ways that make Willamette a better place,” she said.
In regards to how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting this transition, she said she is taking things “one day at a time.” The pandemic makes a move across the country more difficult than usual, and has slowed that process down for her.
Even though her official start date is not until July 1, she is already meeting with other administrators to learn more about the University.
“In this time of crisis, I don’t have the luxury of a really long orientation. Sometimes when people start new positions, they have six months to get to know everyone and figure out how it works. My hunch is that I am going to be involved in having to make some tough decisions, as every institution is,” she explained.
As for other ways that COVID-19 may affect her job, Landreman said she understands that the pandemic is affecting every Willamette community member.
“I don’t know enough about how COVID might be impacting the staff that I work with… for all I know, staff could be attending to sick family members, staff and faculty might have children at home. That might change how we think about our work for a little bit, we might have to be creative… We are all impacted, and we need to give each other grace as we figure out how we can deliver the best experience we can for students, while also protecting and considering everyone’s wellbeing.”
Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Landreman’s career in higher education has caused her to live in many states, including Indiana, Michigan and California. This will be her first time living in the Pacific Northwest, though she is familiar with Portland, since her sister used to live there.
“We like to explore whatever is unique or distinctive of whatever city we live in,” said Landreman, noting that she is excited to introduce her husband to Oregon staples like Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge.