LMU double alumnus Jeffrey Dolliole is returning to the Bluff on Nov. 23 as the new director for the Office of Black Student Services (OBSS), according to a Student Affairs newsletter emailed to staff on Nov. 4.
Following the resignation of the previous Director of OBSS Nathan Sessoms in July, a nationwide search began, led by an 11-member committee of faculty, students and staff from across the University. After posting on several job websites and within Facebook groups of individuals involved in student affairs, the committee received over 100 applications, according to Lisha Maddox, the director of Student Success and the chair of the search committee for the new OBSS director.
Maddox said that she expected such a large volume of applications since the job was posted right after the killing of George Floyd and during the widespread protests against police brutality. She noted that this period of civil unrest within the Black community allowed for a “hyperfocus” on job positions like the director of OBSS.
“I think it’s been difficult without a director for Black students on campus and just the way that the position was vacated wasn’t in ideal circumstances, not only with what we were feeling at the University, but with the country,” said Dezmin Hemmans, a junior finance major who was a student leader of the search committee.
The applicants went through several rounds of screening processes and extensive Zoom interviews with the committee, according to Maddox. She noted that while she wanted the search and hiring process to be “swift” due to the position’s critical importance at the University, she also wanted to ensure that the committee “exhaust[ed] all possibilities when [they] were searching for the next candidate.”
Once the committee narrowed the applicants down to four candidates, each candidate held open forums for students in the LMU community to ask questions or provide feedback. Students who attended these forums were given feedback forms to fill out and submit to the committee. Such feedback was vital in making the final decision on who was hired, according to Maddox.
“They have opinions and insights that we just don’t have; they know what they need,” she said. “This position is directly for [students], for their support, for their advancement, to be a mentor to them, to be an advocate for them. The work that this person does with the rest of the community is important and just as important, but being a mentor for the Black student community is number one.”
Maddox noted that the candidates must have had experience working with Black student communities as well as an understanding of cultural advocacy to be able to connect and serve the students of the LMU community.
“This person really needed to have a temperament and an attitude that is both positive and strong because sometimes this work gets really hard and gets dark and sometimes students come to you with concerns that really move you. You have to be able to be able to help, no matter what,” said Maddox.
The fact that Dolliole had connections with LMU prior to this position put him at an advantage in the hiring process, according to Maddox. She hopes that he will continue to be just as involved with the LMU community and believes that students will be able to connect with him immediately because of this.
Hemmans expressed his excitement and high hopes for Dolliole in his new position.
“I hope Jeffrey is able to connect with the Black student population as best as possible, really provide insights into how to manage online classes and this online world in combination with the racial injustice that we have in the country and just the political strife,” said Hemmans. “I’m looking forward to getting to know him more and seeing how the Black community at LMU benefits from him.”
After such a lengthy hiring process, Maddox expressed pride and confidence on behalf of the entire committee in their search and decision to hire Dolliole as the new director.