Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ensuring the best learning experience: meet SAIS Europe's new Student Affairs head

Students at SAIS receive strong support from faculty, staff, classmates and most especially the director of Student Affairs. The new director at SAIS Europe, Jennifer Varney, comes uniquely qualified for the role as an academic and award-winning teacher. Dr. Varney did her undergraduate and master's studies at Cambridge University and received her Ph.D in Comparative Literature from Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain. Her research interests include 20th century Anglo-American literature and Modernism. Below she discusses her new job and how she will support SAIS students.

Q: What attracted you to this post?
Varney: Before becoming director of Student Affairs at SAIS Europe, I worked as a lecturer in English literature for 15 years. What made that job so fulfilling was being able to work closely with students. In this new role I’ll be able to work even more closely with students, promoting their interests and ensuring that we offer them the very best learning experience possible.
SAIS Europe Director of Student Affairs Jennifer Varney

Q: What do you see as the main responsibilities of the director of Student Affairs?
Varney: The director of Student Affairs has three main responsibilities. The first is to advise students about concentration requirements and courses. It will be my job to facilitate communications between students at SAIS Europe and concentration heads, most of whom are at the SAIS DC campus, and to keep students informed about special opportunities and activities within their concentrations. The second main responsibility is to serve as a counselor to individual students encountering academic or personal difficulties. The third is to act as an adviser to the student government.

Q: The biggest challenge of the post?
Varney: The biggest challenge is also one of the most attractive aspects of this job: its variety. Every day I’ll be dealing with new issues, finding solutions to new problems and  interacting with new people.

Q: If you had to say one thing to an incoming student, what would that be?
Varney: I would say that they should come prepared to work extremely hard, as standards at SAIS Europe are particularly high. That said, because SAIS Europe is such an intimate and informal community, students are likely to form some of the most stimulating and rewarding friendships of their lives. Testament to this are the hundreds of alumni who return to Bologna each year for the SAIS Europe Alumni Weekend.

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