Dawn Meza Soufleris, PhD, has been selected as Montclair State University’s next vice president for Student Development and Campus Life, effective April 5, 2021. The vice president oversees 22 departments with nearly 300 employees and some 700 student workers.
Soufleris brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in student affairs. She currently serves La Salle University as vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and also as the institution’s deputy Title IX coordinator. Before joining La Salle, Soufleris spent 25 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she rose to the position of associate vice president for Student Affairs.
Soufleris earned a doctorate in Sociology from the University at Buffalo and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Binghamton University. She has conducted research on how homeschooled students make the transition to a residential college experience, and she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Sociology, Women and Gender Studies, American Culture and Criminal Justice, including seminars on sexual violence and on professional leadership.
Montclair State President Susan A. Cole says that Soufleris’s strong academic credentials and decades of leadership experience in student affairs make her the right choice for the role.
“Dr. Soufleris is a first generation college graduate from a Hispanic family who received her higher education from two excellent public universities,” Cole says. “She has exceptional experience in the field of student affairs, and I am confident that she will be an effective advocate for the needs of all of Montclair State University’s highly diverse, talented and ambitious students.”
“I am extremely excited to be joining the Montclair State University team,” Soufleris says. “Providing students with support, positive engagement, and ample opportunities to find their niche and to shine have been my central tenets throughout my career in higher education.
“To be able to continue this work as a member of the Red Hawk family is such an honor,” she adds. “I look forward to meeting students, the SDCL staff and the campus community and to learning more about the exceptional educational experience Montclair provides to its students.”
Soufleris views her role as helping students succeed academically and grow personally. Over the course of her career, she has provided leadership for a wide range of student support services, from housing, wellness, campus safety, recreation and student engagement, as well as recruitment and retention. Among her many accomplishments, Soufleris points to the focus she has given to student well-being, including establishing teams that are trained to respond to bias-related incidents and to assist students experiencing mental health challenges or other difficulties impeding their success. She is also a certified suicide prevention trainer.
Soufleris will follow Karen L. Pennington, PhD, who is retiring after more than 22 years of service to Montclair State. Pennington guided the Division of Student Development and Campus Life through a period of extraordinary transformation for the University.