College of Education Dean teaches lessons on breaking barriers, building trust at SGA meeting


Kiersten Riedford

College of Education Dean Mojdeh Bayat spoke at the Student Government Assocation meeting on March 2 to discuss what she can do for the student body and answered student representative’s questions.

Continuing the series of guest visits by administration at the Student Government Association (SGA) general body meetings after President Rob L. Manuel and Chief of Staff Arbin Smith, College of Education (COE) Dean Mojdeh Bayat, who took on the role after the previous dean stepped down on Dec. 31, made her appearance on March 3.

During her Q&A format with the general body, Bayat’s answers revolved around breaking the barriers between students and administration through transparency on the role as a dean.

“I’ve always been a faculty member but now that I’m in a different position, I have different relationships that I need to cultivate,” Bayat said at the meeting. “Building those connections, it’s all about trust and that takes a lot of time and responsibilities.”

SGA President senior Kevin Holechko is a secondary education major in COE and said although the previous college’s dean, Paul Zionts worked to build connections with students, Bayat has taken it a step further. 

Along with an open door policy on Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m., Bayat also has an open email policy. She encourages students to connect with her and said it is as important for her to know the students as it is for the students to know her. 

“[Bayat] has worked really hard to break down this scary barrier of the dean’s office being the place you only go to when you’re in trouble or when you’re in crisis,” Holechko said. “It’s now a more welcoming place where you can go and not only voice your concerns but simply have a nice time and interact with them on a personal level.”

Ana Delgado, senator for the College of Science and Health and senior, believes even though Bayat is not her dean, it was good to see other deans in the DePaul community passionate about the colleges they oversee. 

“Before I had the opportunity to meet with my dean through SGA, I didn’t really have a perception about them,” Delgado said. “I didn’t have a positive or negative impression, they were just the dean. After getting to talk to my own college’s dean and the deans of other colleges like Bayat, I feel a lot more involved and informed about what’s actually going on.”

When asked about advice Bayat could offer the students, Bayat said to be brave. Delgado believes Bayat’s answer reflects a lesson she has learned in SGA through acts of support from other people, like students and administration working together. 

“Be bold, be brave,” Bayat said. “Maybe it’s not good advice if some of you become politicians, but having a healthy appreciation of politics is good. Be bold to stand against politics and be brave for yourself. Don’t let politics stop you from doing the right thing.” 

Delgado said she felt more connected to COE and that even if it is not her college, Bayat’s enthusiasm helped her understand the dean’s role in various colleges and DePaul as a whole.

“Since I’m not a student, I don’t know what you might misunderstand about my role,” Bayat said. “The job of the dean as a leader is very different from that as a leader at any organization, nonprofit, or other part of the school. The faculty and dean share a lot of power, so we’re more there to support the faculty.”

Looking to the spring quarter, Provost Salma Ghanem, Vice President for Mission and Ministry Reverend Guillermo Campuzano and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean Guillermo Vásquez de Velasco will also visit SGA. 

“In trying to build a better community at DePaul, these meetings are great at building passion through action,” Delgado said. “From an educational and administrative point, they are successful at trying to break down those barriers to help students understand what deans do. In general, these meetings are serving multiple purposes but they are all connected by trying to help students build that bridge between themselves and administrators at DePaul.”