Alumni Story – Darryl Holloman
Darryl Holloman was appointed Georgia State University’s Dean of Students in September 2014 after earning three degrees from the university, including his doctorate in educational policy studies in 2005.
On the heels of his one-year anniversary, Holloman shares his accomplishments and talks about how his training in the College of Education and Human Development helped contribute to his success. He also discusses challenges he’s faced in his new role and how he balances his work as dean and mentor to the changing needs of the Georgia State student.
Q: How did your academic training through the College of Education and Human Development contribute to impacting decision making in your role this past year?
A: The thing I have enjoyed the most regarding my academic training through the College of Education and Human Development was how it prepared me for work both inside and outside the classroom. As a full-time tenure-track professor in the Department of Education at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, I served as the program coordinator. At Columbus State University, although I was in an administrative role, I also held a tenure-track assistant professorship in the Department of Education. I have also taught Freshman Learning Community courses as well as taught in the Department of African American Studies while working at Rutgers-University-Newark. In fact, the month that I decided to return back to Georgia State University, I was preparing my tenure dossier for submission for tenure and promotion. That was a tough decision because I had worked pretty hard towards tenure – presenting and publishing. I felt, however, that it was best to return to my alma mater instead. I have not regretted that decision.
Ultimately, I feel that my academic training through the CEHD truly developed me into a researcher which has helped to influence my work administratively. I do not believe a lot of programs prepare its graduates to do both. And that is just not my experience solely – several of my colleagues have worked in both administrative and faculty roles as well and they have done quite well. For example, Rodney Lyn, who is doing great work in the School of Public Health was in my cohort. There is also Kijua McMurtry at Agnes Scott, who is a senior administrator but doing great work on the academic side of the house. I think our example speaks towards the strong foundation that we received through our academic training in the College of Education and Human Development.
Q: What strategies/policies have you implemented based on that training?
A: I believe more than any one specific policy that I have implemented, I learned through my educational experiences in the CEHD a thorough understanding of how universities are governed. During my years in the program, I learned how a university – specifically a large, public university – operates. I can remember taking, at that time, a course called History of Higher Education, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to examine how American colleges and universities have evolved. Of course, I believe that our program has faculty who were interested in the effects social dynamics on college campuses. I can remember being really challenged by the faculty in my doctoral program to broaden my perspectives on race, class, gender and sexual orientation and those lessons served me well both as an educator myself, but more importantly, as an administrator. I believe that having this exposure through my program fostered a level of sensitivity in me which helps me to view policies from various perspectives.
Q: What have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments this past year as the dean of students?
A: This is always a difficult question to answer because when you answer the question, it almost seems as if you are indicating that the work you have done is complete. That is definitely not the case being the dean of students at Georgia State University. The work that we do on our campus is much too fluid to rest on past laurels. What a great thing to be at our university during this time.
If I had to think of something specific, I believe that the work we are doing surrounding the upcoming consolidation with Georgia Perimeter College has been spectacular. This is such an exciting time to be a member of our university because I truly believe that our institution is doing cutting-edge things that are much needed to address the education of individuals in the 21st century and beyond. While a faculty member at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, I taught a course titled, “Community College,” and I can remember being impressed with the students who took the course and worked at community colleges. I have worked at a variety of public universities and the only one that I had not worked at was a two-year institution. I am looking forward to working more with my colleagues at Perimeter College.
Q: How do you balance your role as dean and mentor to the changing needs of the Georgia State student?
A: I believe being an alum myself allows me an opportunity to relate to Georgia State students. For example, when the current Homecoming King, Corey Sams, won, I sent him a message of congratulations from one homecoming king to another. I was homecoming king in 1994 – that seems like a long time ago. Corey and I are also members of the same fraternity. Things like that help me to understand the experiences of our students.
I can understand when a student may be late for a meeting because they are commuting, trying to find a parking space, or having to work because I have been there. I can remember one time having two part time jobs. I worked as a sales associate in the Gap in Underground Atlanta and I was working on campus, as well as balancing a full course load. Those types of experiences help me to understand our student body; however, I also have to remember that its not 1994 and that times have changed. Students are always telling me that I need to get a Twitter account or asking why I am not on Facebook or Instagram. Social media just wasn’t as prominent when I was an undergraduate student.
I think returning to my alma mater has provided me an opportunity to truly appreciate even more our student body, and maybe one day soon I will get a Twitter account going, just to shock a few of them.