Joining the leadership team of Union County College (UCC) is something of a homecoming for Takeem Dean ’03 ’11 MA. After five years as Dean of Students at North Carolina’s Johnson C. Smith University and two as Dean of Students at Allen University in South Carolina, Dean returns to New Jersey where he will oversee UCC’s CARE Team, a multidisciplinary team that provides students with the personal and academic resources they need to succeed. In addition, Dean will oversee the College’s Title IX compliance, serve as liaison between students and the campus community, and develop Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training programs for students.
“I believe in community colleges and the opportunities they offer,” Dean says, reflecting on his decision to join UCC. “UCC’s mission is to transform the community one student at a time. My mission is to save lives, one student at a time.”
Dean brings a depth of education and experience to his new role. He has a B.S. in Business Teacher Education and an M.A. in Educational leadership from Montclair State, as well as an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from Wingate University. In addition to his work at Johnson C. Smith and Allen Universities, Dean has served as Director of the Center for Student Involvement at Passaic County College, Residence Hall Director at the Juilliard School, Resident Director at North Carolina Central University, and Residence Coordinator at Seton Hall University. Dean’s career also includes roles as Community Director and Assistant to the Dean at none other than Montclair State.
Montclair State was a major influence on Dean’s career – and life – from the time he was in high school. “Many of my high school teachers had gone to Montclair State and they were the ones who inspired me to become a teacher,” he explains. “I also had an aunt who was a Montclair State student, and I got to visit the campus while she was there.”
Dean was specifically interested in business education. “I loved accounting and learning how to type,” he says. “My teachers introduced me to the business education professors at the University. The deposit was affordable – an important factor at the time. When the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program accepted me, I couldn’t wait to become a Red Hawk, like my aunt.”
“I went right into the teaching track,” he continues. “But soon I was learning about student affairs. In my freshman year I became a Resident Assistant (RA) to reduce the cost of living on campus, but I very quickly started to correlate this kind of work with my teaching goals. I found my mission in student affairs.”
The required RA training also introduced him to camping. “I had never gone to camp as a kid, so that was really new,” he says with a laugh. “But then I saw the team building exercises play out during the year. It was amazing.” During his time as a student, Dean was also involved with the Organization of Students for African Unity and served as president of the Montclair State chapter of the NAACP.
Dean continues his involvement in the community, serving as co-chairperson of the PAN Mentoring Foundation and Awards Committee of the Association for College Professional Administrators (ACPA) and chapter chaplain, chairperson of service projects and co-chair of a local MLK Ceremony and oratorical contest. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and has served as the Fraternity’s New Jersey Chaplain and Eastern Region Assistant Director of Communications.
Now that he is back in New Jersey, Dean is planning to get more involved in his alma mater. “I recently learned about the new Montclair State Black Alumni Advisory Council, and I am glad to see this kind of effort to connect alumni and students,” he says. The Council, launched this past summer, will bring together Montclair State graduates who are of African descent in the Diaspora, connecting them to their alma mater and engaging them in preparing today’s Black students for academic and career success.
Dean is grateful for the education and experience he earned at Montclair State, and is eager to pay it forward. “I would not be the person and practitioner that I am today without Montclair State,” he says.
“I was on campus just a few weeks ago, and I saw an institution that has been reimagined,” he adds. “You can become whatever you want at Montclair State.”