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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Matt Clifford to serve as interim dean of students after Adam Goldstein’s departure

The university plans to announce a search in January for a permanent dean
Aine Pierre
Matt Clifford is currently serving as interim dean of students.

Dr. Matthew Clifford, former dean of Residence Life & Housing, has been appointed as interim dean of students after Dr. Adam Goldstein resigned at the end of last academic year, according to Vice President for Campus Life Dr. Shea Kidd Brown.

“I am grateful for [Goldstein]’s service to our students, faculty, staff and families, and for all he did for the Wake Forest community,” Kidd Brown told the Old Gold & Black by email. 

Goldstein’s resignation was announced to Campus Life staff and other campus partners on May 16, the day after the Spring 2023 undergraduate commencement ceremony, according to Kidd Brown. Student Government was informed of Goldstein’s departure and Clifford’s new position during its public Senate meeting on Aug. 30. 

For Clifford, this is a return to the Dean of Students Office, where he was associate dean of student conduct from 2016 to 2019. From 2010 to 2016, Clifford was director of residence life. 

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“[Clifford] has gained significant experience in the field of student affairs on various campuses and has spent the past 12 years at Wake Forest,” Kidd Brown told the Old Gold & Black by email. “He is a trusted partner across the campus and has extensive experience with campus crises, student conduct and creating transformative experiences within our residential community.” 

As of publication, no formal announcement has been made to the student body. According to Kidd Brown, the university will announce its plans regarding a search for a new dean of students in January. 

“We…did not share it more broadly because students were not in session,” Kidd Brown told the Old Gold & Black. “Our plan was to share a broader message when we share our plans for a search in January.”

As Clifford steps into the role of dean of students, Stephanie Carter-Atkins will serve as interim dean of Residence Life & Housing. In addition, during the interim period, Vice President for Wellbeing Dr. Warrenetta Mann will be responsible for the dean of students’ case management programs, and Associate Vice President Andrea Bohn will oversee student organization finance.

Clifford’s philosophy

Many students know Clifford from his time as the dean of Residence Life & Housing, but Clifford expressed that he is ready to forge relationships with students in his new role. Clifford also said that he still will work very closely with Residence Life & Housing and Carter-Atkins.

“I want to be able to help students if there are concerns related to housing,” Clifford said. “I work really closely with Dr. Carter-Atkins, and so [if there is a] student and there are concerns related to housing, [I’d want to] help and navigate that.”

Additionally, Clifford believes that as interim dean of students, it is his responsibility to help students feel like they belong at Wake Forest.

“I conceive the Dean of Students Office as sort of the front porch for the student experience, in the sense that we want to [be] a place where all students…feel that they can come and sit and feel welcomed,” Clifford said.

Clifford also said that for some students, the office — and Wake Forest generally — has not been welcoming.

“We’ve got to do extra work to…be extraordinarily cognizant that some students might not feel welcome on that porch,” Clifford said. “That space may not be welcoming for them, even though we want it to be. So that’s work that we need to do, and I really believe that is the work of everybody at the institution. But it’s extraordinarily important, I think, from a dean of students’ perspective.”

I want to be open and available to students.

— Dr. Matt Clifford, Interim Dean of Students

Clifford also emphasized his background as an educator and the importance of making sure the entire campus — not just classrooms — is a place where students can learn. This is an idea that, much to Clifford’s delight, was emphasized heavily in the university’s strategic framework. Clifford identified three areas in which the Dean of Students’ Office helps educate students — the conduct process, case management and student organizations.

“It’s really a series of rich learning environments that we create for students,” Clifford said. “Those are some things that jump off the page of that framework, and I certainly think are important — and have always been important to the Dean of Students’ Office. It’s nice to see those reflected in the framework.”

When asked what he wants the student body to know about their new interim dean of students, Clifford spoke at length about how much he cares about students.

“Despite busy days, I want to be open and available to students,” Clifford said. “If they want me to come to an event, or if they have a concern that they are seeing that I might not be, I want to be available to hear that.”

Clifford continued: “If they want to sit down and have coffee and tell me about the cool things that they are doing in the classroom and in research and the things that they are learning in their campus job, I want to hear about those things. And I also want to hear and make myself available to a student who needs help and doesn’t know where else to go.”

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About the Contributor
Aine Pierre
Aine Pierre, Online Managing Editor
Aine is a senior from Cherry Hill, N.J. She is a history major with minors in journalism and sociology. When not in the OGB office, you can find her watching "Avatar: the Last Airbender" with her friends, obsessively refreshing her Twitter (sorry, X) feed or freaking out about the dog that she just saw. She also serves as Chief Editor of Three to Four Ounces Literary Magazine.

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