A new official is advising Student Senate and handling conduct issues.
Lilly Bermudez was appointed Jan. 4 as the new associate dean of students.
She replaced Lesley Black, who transitioned from associate dean of students to associate director for international programs in the Petree College of Arts and Sciences.
Black said she made a personal decision to move away from the dean’s position last semester.
“I was very fortunate that my current position in arts and sciences opened up right at the end of the semester and I was able to remain on campus,” she said.
“I’m excited to still have the opportunity to work with the amazing students, faculty and staff members I have gotten to know over the years, but I was ready for a professional change.”
Bermudez, originally from El Salvador, got her master’s degree in pastoral theology from Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida.
She also has undergraduate degrees in international relations and political science from Ave Maria College of the Americas in Nicaragua.
Bermudez worked at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, as dean of students before coming to OCU. St. Gregory’s closed at the end of 2017 due to financial issues.
Bermudez said she had a close friend who went to OCU and who made her interested in the university.
“I heard it was a community of engagement and inclusion, and I wanted to be a part of that,” she said.
Bermudez oversees student conduct, advises the Student Senate and has assumed leadership roles in committees and programs including OCULeads, the president’s leadership class, Stars Volunteers, and FIRST, a program for first-generation college students.
Bermudez said one of her goals for the year is to make sure students understand that student affairs is there to help.
“We’re not here to work against your educational goals, but to help you accomplish them,” she said. “I want students to use this office as one more step in the ladder toward graduation and a fulfilled college career.
“We’re the perfect place to seek answers because, if we don’t know them, we’ll find them.”
Bermudez said she hopes to facilitate an environment for engagement and diversity.
“I’m very easy to talk to,” she said. “People think you can only talk to me when you’re in trouble because I’m the conduct officer, but come to my office anytime. I don’t bite.”
Joanna Whipple, student court chief justice, said she loved working with Black through Student Government Association.
“I’m glad that she is still a member of the OCU team, just in a different department,” Whipple said. “However, we are very excited to begin working with the incoming associate dean of students. She seems eager to be engaged with SGA and OCU’s students in general. We are glad to have her as a new adviser for SGA.”