Dr. Hassel Morrison has just moved across the country to serve as St. Olaf’s Vice President for Student Life.
Growing up in Virginia, Morrison received his undergraduate degree in Media Studies and English from Radcliffe University. He then went on to get his Masters in Educational Leadership from Virginia State and studied for his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development.
Morrison comes to St. Olaf from the University of Idaho, but has also worked at a number of universities primarily in North Carolina and Virginia. The University of Idaho, where he served as a faculty member and the Associate Dean of Students, is a much larger public institution. Morrison predicts St. Olaf will be a change of pace, but he looks forward to the opportunities he will have to connect with students.
As a young adult, Morrison knew that he had a “desire to work with young people.” Throughout college he was a student leader and then went on to work in student affairs as a graduate student.
He loves being a “resource person” for students, and believes that it is “his gift.” That gift is one he envisions being utilized here at St. Olaf. He is already moving to ensure that the student life division is at its absolute best, consistently putting students first.
Morrison stated that he hopes his new department will be “engaging with students intentionally and meeting them where they are.”
Ultimately, he sees the department as one that has students’ backs, and is already running a review of the department to make sure that these priorities are still at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
As the Vice President for Student Life, Morrison will be overseeing many important programs on campus, ensuring that programs like the Wellness Center, Posse Program and Counseling Center are providing the best services possible for all St. Olaf students. He expressed that not only does he want to explore areas of growth within the college, but also focus on what is working and what “we need to continue to do.”
Hassel was drawn to St. Olaf because it seemed like the sort of institution that was personable – “big enough to matter and small enough to care.”
He was also looking for a strong small-town community to nurture his daughters, ages six and ten. He says the “evidence has proven itself,” and that he, his wife and his daughters already feel very welcomed. He and his family plan to be very involved in the campus community, already having attended a home volleyball game.
“It will be hard to get rid of me,” he said.
Morrison hopes that the student body will view him as approachable and reachable. He wants to discuss issues and campus happenings on a regular basis with students, and intends to put together a student advisory group as a way of receiving student input.
He also says that, although “there’s a time to be serious, there is also a time to relax and get to know one another,” and that is how he hopes these next few weeks will look as he gets settled into the St. Olaf community.
Morrison brings a fresh new perspective to the student life division and college as a whole. He expressed that he loves bringing together “people of difference” and hopes to get to know all the varying identities of students on this campus.
During his time at St. Olaf Morrison hopes to optimize student engagement – something he values highly.