Derek Jackson, left, interviews for the vice president for student life and dean of students position at the K-State Alumni Association Thursday while Aimee Kraus interprets in sign language.

Derek Jackson said during his interview Thursday for K-State’s dean of students position that he and current dean Pat Bosco have different talents, and that works in his favor.

Jackson, associate vice president for student life and only internal candidate for the position, said he likes to take more time to have meaningful conversations with people, even if it means not meeting everyone like he said Bosco would. Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students, will retire this summer after nearly five decades at the school.

“He would’ve met everyone one of you in 10 minutes and welcomed you quickly in a meaningful way,” Jackson said. “If you know me, I’m usually the last one out the door, maybe an hour after the last person left, and I’m holding onto the last person.”

He said he would use that as an advantage though.

“When I go to student groups, my goal would be to go to the groups early in the fall and say, ‘This is who I am, this is what I’m after,’ and spend time in the evenings with the student groups,” he said.

Jackson has been at K-State since 1989, and said the staff dedication to the school is part of what makes the school what it is.

“I know how dedicated the faculty and staff are. Some of you have been here 40 or 50 years,” he said. “They invest in the students, and they taught the newer staff the same values they had and changing student lives.”

He said retaining the talent K-State has an important role in the university’s future success. He also said he wants to see an investment in community and corporate partnerships to give students more opportunities, and better communication within the school and between students.

“In rushed moments, we’re using technology to be genuine, to be caring, to understand and to be misunderstood, which is what happens a lot of the time,” Jackson said.

While students have been misunderstood, he also said the student voice is the most powerful on campus. He said students made changes happen on campus like the creation of Ahearn Fieldhouse, the K-State Student Union and most recently the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center.

Jackson said he is most proud of the students for that, and it aligns with his “one-person vision statement.” He said his vision for the school is “We are raising up well citizens (not just students) of the world to change the world.” He said he would keep playing with the wording of the vision, but working toward that goal would help in many areas for students, like finances and careers.

Wellness is one of his top priorities in the job. He said he’d want to work with the peer counseling groups to get more students help, as well as prioritize getting campus resources out to students.

“I was talking with a student recently, a junior, and she said there (working on her research project) was the first time she knew there was free counseling services on campus,” he said. “A junior!”

Jackson said he didn’t know enough about the issues international, distance or indigenous students face to answer specifically how he would work to make them feel more included on campus.

However, he said he is eager to sit with groups involved and see what they want and how to make it a reality.

Thomas Lane, associate vice president for student life and dean of students at Missouri State University, and Santiago Solis, associate vice president for student affairs at Towson University in Maryland, were the other two candidates for the position.

A survey, available on the president’s website to provide feedback on the candidate, is available for those with K-State login information and will close Thursday. Oral and written opinions can also be directed to members of the search committee.

There are 15 search committee members:

  • Amy Button Renz, chair, president and CEO of the K-State Alumni Association;
  • LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin, director of the multicultural engineering program in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering;
  • Greg Eiselein, professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Wayne Goins, university distinguished professor of music in the College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State Libraries;
  • Brandon Haddock, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center;
  • Jordan Kocher, director of fraternities and sororities;
  • Emily Lehning, associate vice president of New Student Services;
  • Carol Marden, office manager of Counseling Services;
  • Mary Molt, assistant professor in Housing and Dining Services;
  • Alisa Pajser, doctoral student in psychological sciences;
  • Sadie Polson, senior in marketing;
  • Bryan Samuel, chief diversity and inclusion officer;
  • Chuck Taber, provost and executive vice president;
  • Sara Thurston, director of International Student and Scholar Services.