Following a competitive national search, NYIT has appointed Gabrielle St. Léger, Ed.D., to the position of Dean of Campus Life for the Old Westbury campus.
St. Léger is already well known on campus. “Dr. Gaby,” as students call her, has been part of the student affairs team since 2014. She has served as acting associate dean of Campus Life for Old Westbury, as associate dean of Campus Life, and, this past academic year, as acting dean of Campus Life.
In her new official role, St. Léger says she will prioritize building a student-centered university. “This is an exciting time to be a student at NYIT,” says St. Léger, who also works closely with the Manhattan Campus Dean’s office. “There are so many opportunities for us to collaborate and find ways to provide students with a transformational experience.”
St. Léger also serves as the senior student affairs officer on the Old Westbury campus, overseeing the Office of Residence Life and Off Campus Housing, Student Involvement and Leadership Development (including student activities, organizations, orientation, and first-year experience), Student Conduct, and Counseling and Wellness. She also serves as one of NYIT’s deputy Title IX coordinators.
“Gaby quickly emerged as an effective leader when she first arrived on campus,” said Patrick G. Love, Ph.D., vice president for student affairs. “She is the ideal person to spearhead the continuing transformation of the student experience on the Old Westbury campus. Beyond that, I anticipate that her leadership will be felt throughout the institution.”
Understanding the complete student perspective, St. Léger says, is of utmost importance as it helps her team prioritize programs and services. The group maintains an “open door” policy, meets with students in groups and one-on-one, participates in community events (like the recent Relay for Life), and often has impromptu conversations around campus.
“If they can’t come to me, I will go to them—in their classrooms, on the field, wherever they need me to be,” says St. Léger. “Ultimately, we are their advocates, and so if we aren’t giving them what they want, then we need to make a change.”
One area St. Léger is focusing on is creating stronger teams, communication, and partnerships within Student Affairs. “By serving as the model, we can show student leaders how they, too, can create successful partnerships on campus and when they start their professional lives,” she says.
She is also collaborating with academic deans and university leadership to create new experiences for students. For example, Campus Life is working with the School of Health Professions on a partnership with nonprofit organization HOPE Community Development Corporation, West Virginia University, and the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to bring NYIT students to West Virginia to work in clinics in West Charleston (which is considered an urban blight area in Appalachia by the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority). “It’s the perfect opportunity to give students real-world experience that also makes an impact on a whole community,” she says.
The project also happens to dovetail with St. Léger’s background. She holds a Bachelor’s in English, a Master of Arts in Secondary Education Language Arts, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership Studies from West Virginia University. Her research has primarily focused on the recruitment and retention of historically underserved students and how recruitment and retention efforts interrelate with campus diversity initiatives.
St. Léger has 16 years of experience in higher education in both academic affairs and student affairs. She has served on several leadership teams, including West Virginia University's Steering Committee on Student Retention, West Virginia University’s Diversity and Inclusion work group for the university’s 2020 Strategic Plan, and The Ohio State University’s Student Affairs Assessment Council.
As a former varsity women’s track and field collegiate athlete, the student-athlete experience is near and dear to her work. Equally as important is the veteran student experience (both of St. Léger’s brothers served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces).
NYIT has also become a bit of a family tradition. Her sister, Danielle St. Léger (B.S. ’98, D.O. ’05), has degrees in life sciences and osteopathic medicine and was a member of NYIT’s All American track team. While she works as a doctor in the Pittsburgh area, she recently visited her alma mater and checked out her sister’s new office. “She said, ‘You did good, little sis,’ ” says St. Léger.
Dean St. Léger welcomes students and staff and faculty members to contact her with any ideas or concerns. She is located on the second floor of the Student Activities Center on the Old Westbury campus or can be reached at x7635 or email@example.com.
By Julie Godsoe