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Stephanie Gravel has joined the Deans Office as asso­ciate dean of women.
Stephanie Gravel | Courtesy

After arriving at Hillsdale College more than 20 years ago as the asso­ciate vol­leyball coach, Stephanie Gravel has left the court and found a new home on the third floor of Central Hall. Gravel has become the asso­ciate dean of women and will con­tinue to fulfill her respon­si­bil­ities as a student health liaison. 

“I’m def­i­nitely excited for this new chal­lenge,” Gravel said. “I love men­toring and helping stu­dents, and I’m excited about cul­ti­vating resilience within the student body.” 

Gravel’s arrival coin­cides with a reshuf­fling of roles in the dean of women’s office, as former Asso­ciate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell has become the dean of women. Diane Philipp will con­tinue to serve as vice pres­ident of student affairs, a job she pre­vi­ously per­formed while also serving as dean of women.

Even though Gravel will not be on the vol­leyball court as a coach for the upcoming season, she said that she will con­tinue to help out with the team when she can, as her husband Chris Gravel is the head vol­leyball coach. Gravel said the team brought on Taylor Wiese ’20 last fall to help in the vol­leyball office, and Wiese has filled in for her over the past several months. 

“Last semester, COVID pulled me away in a big way, and I relied on her to teach my class and do things that I usually do for the vol­leyball team,” Gravel said. “The hope is that she’ll take over my role on the vol­leyball team.” 

Philipp said the dean’s office decided to add a new asso­ciate dean to the staff due to the amount of work it wants to accom­plish with students. 

“In the deans’ office, our goal is to assist our stu­dents in whatever they need to perform well in the classroom and to organize and promote activ­ities outside the classroom,” Philipp said in an email. “We strive to help our stu­dents grow intel­lec­tually, socially, emo­tionally, faith­fully, and morally. With Mrs. Gravel added to our team, we know we can accom­plish our mission even better.”

Even with changes to the staff, Philipp said she will con­tinue to meet with stu­dents, as that is what she enjoys the most about her work. Addi­tionally, Philipp said she will con­tinue her admin­is­trative duties, but hiring Gravel gives the office more flexibility. 

“Adding another person to our team will give all of us more time to meet with stu­dents and to develop pro­grams that will give our stu­dents a won­derful college expe­rience,” Philipp said. 

Dell echoed Philipp and reit­erated that stu­dents will not see much shift in how both she and Philipp work with the student body. The change gives all staff members more time for stu­dents, and Dell said she hopes the office can accom­modate more walk-ins.

“This change is exciting for our office, and I would encourage stu­dents to create more con­nec­tions with our office,” Dell said. “We hope and desire that stu­dents take advantage of the new acces­si­bility of our office.” 

In her new position, Gravel said she will con­tinue to work with Asso­ciate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers to meet campus needs that arise from COVID-19. 

“Chief and I are still going to be working quite a bit on COVID — hope­fully less this semester — and roll with as it comes,” Gravel said. “Our primary goal with all of this is keeping the stu­dents in class.” 

Gravel said she and Rogers will do their best to make sure everyone stays happy, safe, and healthy with the goal of having stu­dents attend in-person classes. 

Philipp said Gravel did an incredible job assisting with campus COVID needs last semester, and Philipp is con­fident in her abil­ities to work with the deans’ office. 

“She is orga­nized, hard-working, per­sonable, and a lot of fun,” Philipp said. “As a coach, she has extensive expe­rience working closely with stu­dents, parents, and faculty.” 

Last semester, Gravel said she enjoyed getting to know the various per­son­al­ities on campus as a student health liaison. Now, she will have a greater oppor­tunity to foster rela­tion­ships with stu­dents on campus. 

Dell said Gravel has a warmth and wel­coming demeanor that will allow stu­dents to be com­fortable quickly. 

“She’ll be taking what she’s learned as a coach and applying it to all female stu­dents,” Dell said. “This is a very stream­lined move from ath­letics to the dean’s office. As a coach, you’re working with a team of 14, but this change is going to chal­lenge her to grow in the number of stu­dents she works with.” 

Senior vol­leyball player Maddie Clark said Gravel, or “Steph,” helped her develop as a player and a person by being her coach and acting as a mom for the team. Clark said Gravel’s pos­itive energy helped her on and off the court. 

“She is a very pos­itive yet real person,” Clark said. “She sees a task from beginning to end and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Steph is one of the hardest workers I know.” 

Clark said she will miss seeing Gravel at prac­tices as often but is grateful Gravel will still be on campus. 

“I’m excited to see what changes she brings to her new position,” Clark said. “Steph is ambi­tious and I think she is going to thrive in her new position.” 

Gravel will be working closely with Exec­utive Sec­retary to the Dean of Women Carolyn Mil­ligan to meet housing needs, and she antic­i­pates assisting with student employment and leading tours for large groups of prospective students. 

Gravel said she loves coaching and will always be part of her players’ lives but looks forward to helping more of the student body. As she con­tinues to learn more about her respon­si­bil­ities as asso­ciate dean of women, Gravel said she will figure every­thing out as she goes. 

“I’m pretty much just going to throw myself into the role and learn as I go,” Gravel said. “I want the student body to know I’m here to help in any way pos­sible. I want to be a source that they can come to at any time.”