by REBECCA KIELBASA
If you are a Tiffin University student or faculty member, Dean Herdlick should be a familiar name to you.
You may see him walking the student center, hosting raffles, taking students to the movies, or even emceeing bingo night, but these are just a few of the things Dean Herdlick does.
Dean Michael Herdlick, 51, has been Dean of Students at Tiffin University since 2012. He started at the university as a full time math professor, then served as the schools faculty adviser for the NCAA, and spent five years in the office of institutional advancement.
Being the Dean of Student at any university is no easy feat, but Dean Herdlick could have fooled us. In the journey to understand his position, his co-workers and the students had only good words to say.
When asked to describe the Dean of Students position he described himself as the “chief student advocate” for all issues students face, including financial, illness, disagreements with coaches, and conflict. Herdlick also explained that his job is to “immerse himself in the life of the students” to figure out what the students need and get it, because “the students make the school.”
A day in the life of Dean Herdlick will include meetings with the Student Affairs staff to try and decipher what will be affecting the students in the near future. Herdlick will also be seen walking through the lower lobby of Gillmor interacting with students and spreading as much joy as he can. While this is only one line of his job description, Dean Herdlick takes it with pride.
Student Melissa Trzpis commented on Dean Herdlick's presence on campus in the eyes of the general student population saying, “Dean's persona is magnetic and inviting, and if he had a visible aura, it would shine brighter than the sun” and “a day does not go by where he can't be found at least once to spread joy or help a student in need.”
It is not just the students Dean Herdlick looks after, but the staff as well. Nicholas La Torre, Assistant Director of Student Conduct, said “Before I even had the chance to meet Dean Herdlick in person, he had already helped me over the phone with a moving concern I had coming to campus.”
La Torre and Dean Herlick work closely together in the Student Affairs Office on many tasks. Dean Herdlick gains the respect of his co-workers because “He would never ask anyone to do something he would not be willing to do himself or has done himself. He chooses to model leadership, especially around his staff, so that we never have to question what our main priorities are -- our students” La Torre said. This pair has often been seen passing out ice cream in the TU van during the particularly hot days on campus as well.
If there is a secret to being successful in the dean position, Herdlick believes being a good listener, being observant, and having the ability to have the hard conversations, “Don’t walk through the students but walk with them,” he said.
There are times when being the Dean is not all fun, particularly in student conduct cases, where he will have to step in “challenging students when necessary.” He also “will step in to handle interaction with students who may not have had positive experiences due to their behavior” according to La Torre.
Becoming the Dean was quite the journey for Herdlick, starting back when he went to school for a bachelor's degree in mathematics and general science, then moved on to get a master’s degree in mathematics. As for career, Herdlick was not anticipating entering the higher education career and was honestly unsure what he wanted to do but thought about insurance consulting, potentially teaching, and even interviewed with the CIA a couple of times.
Dean Herdlick’s first job out of college was as a quality assurance officer for a private science laboratory firm, and eventually he moved up to Vice President of that firm.
When asked about changing careers or moving on from Dean of Students, Herdlick says he would like to be Dean of Students as long as everyone thinks he is good at it or until he burns out. To enhance the Dean position, he would love to take students on more field trips and to continue joint efforts with the facilities department.
Student affairs has absorbed the facilities department as of 2019, so Dean Herdlick also serves as the director of facilities.
Resident Assistant Haleigh Hubbell has worked with Dean Herdlick on maintenance issues and offered comments on how having the Dean streamline the process with facilities affects the process, “I would say I work with maintenance two to three times a month. Having Dean Herdlick helps communicate to maintenance what important issues housing needs to be done.”
Not many students truly understand what Dean Herdlick truly does from them. Hubbell said, “ I think becoming an RA gives you more of an insight of how much work goes into creating a successful student life on campus.”
It is safe to say that Dean Herlick is a pivotal part of the TU campus, and we could never fully understand everything he does for the students and staff.