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Widener Names New Dean of Students

Widener Pride statues
Widener University is welcoming a new dean of students.

Widener University has named John P. Downey, as its next dean of students. Downey, who will begin his new position on Tuesday, May 28 comes to Widener from Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, where he has served as dean of students since 2003.

“I am truly delighted to welcome Dr. Downey to Widener University,” said President Julie E. Wollman. “With deep experience in student affairs, academic affairs, and enrollment management, he is an outstanding choice to lead student affairs at Widener. He is a caring and trusted student advocate with a long track record of collaboration and I look forward to the positive impact his work will have on our students’ success.”

Dean of Students John Downey
John Downey begins his new position on May 28.

At Queens University of Charlotte, Downey has been responsible for leading 26 professional, graduate, and administrative staff in the division of Student Life, including the Dean of Students Office, Residence Life and Housing, Student Engagement, Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement, and Health and Wellness Services. He previously served as director of the academic advisement services center at the State University of New York at Albany, and as assistant dean for student development at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

“I am delighted to join Widener as dean of students,” Downey said. “I am impressed by the faculty, staff and student dedication to collaboration, and to making valuable connections between student life and academics. I look forward to working with Widener’s excellent student affairs team to continue helping students transform their lives.”

While at Queens University of Charlotte, Downey led a university initiative to create a welcoming campus climate for under-represented students. In 2017, more than 90 percent of the university’s students described the Queens community as respectful or very respectful of others based on race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and socio-economic status. He also served on a team that helped Queens to increase its first-to-second-year student retention rate by 16 percent in six years, resulting in the university’s all-time highest rate in 2018.

Downey will lead a team at Widener focused on ensuring the university’s core values of academic excellence, career preparation, and civic engagement are reflected in students’ experiences in the classroom, residence halls, co-curricular programs, and interpersonal relationships. Driven by a mission to help students achieve their greatest potential, the Student Affairs team helps to cultivate the well-being and success of every Widener student.

Downey received his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Indiana University. He received his master’s in business administration from The College of New Jersey, and his bachelor of science in commerce from Rider University.

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