The University of New Mexico Dean of Students Office announced Paula Smith as the first-ever associate dean of students and director of student rights and responsibilities. The newly-created position is part of the office’s restructuring plan which also includes the addition of an associate dean of students for student wellbeing, a position recently filled by Greg Golden.
UNM Dean of Students Nasha Torrez said that the two new associate dean positions bring UNM into alignment with best practices and standards of other universities across the country, and she is excited to welcome Smith to the team.
Smith is leaving her current role as acting dean for student wellbeing at Gonzaga University and brings with her an extensive student affairs background. She previously served as the assistant director of Residence Life and Student Housing at the University of Notre Dame. Smith also initiated and created the infrastructure for Indiana University of South Bend’s first on-campus housing.
She will be charged with supporting the development of restorative justice and alternative pathways, implementing an evaluation for students who go through the conduct process, and working closely with Golden on prevention and outreach. “I’m looking forward to working with Paula and excited to see all that she will bring to UNM,” Golden said.
Torrez noted that the student population, post-pandemic, is experiencing greater mental and behavioral health issues which has led to an increase in acute conduct concerns and disruptions in the educational environment. Smith will be tasked with providing crisis prevention and intervention services in difficult situations such as mental and behavioral health and consulting with students, staff, faculty, providers, and families to offer guidance and best practices.
“Paula was instrumental in creating and overseeing Gonzaga’s student conduct system from the ground up—she will bring a wealth of knowledge to this role,” Torrez said. "Given Paula's passion for living in New Mexico and extensive experience in Student Affairs and Student Rights and Responsibilities, we are fortunate to have her be our new associate dean."
Smith will begin her role Monday, Sept. 18. For more information, visit the Student Rights and Responsibilities website.