Westminster College Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs Karnell McConnell-Black announced Monday he would be transferring to a liberal arts college in Oregon beginning in the Fall semester.
McConnell Black has been with Westminster for nine years, working in an array of different positions. He will go on to serve as the vice president for student life at Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon.
“The heart of my experience at Westminster has been the opportunity to engage in your day-to-day lives,” he said in an email sent out to students. “Serving as an advocate and support system in both good and challenging times, makes me appreciate the little things in life.”
McConnell-Black will continue his work at Westminster until the end of the summer, officially starting at Reed Aug. 1.
He said he was recruited for the position, but ultimately took the position because of the personal and professional growth available for him in Portland. Plus, his husband also had an opportunity in the city that aligned with his career.
During his time at Westminster, McConnell-Black used his roles to develop the Bias Education Response Team — which assists students in determining how to handle and report instances of bias.
He also served in positions helping to lead student orientation and affairs, touching the lives of several students across campus.
“Reed is officially one of the luckiest campus’s around now!” Catherine Blakemore, a Westminster alum, commented on Reed College’s Instagram announcement.
Much of his work consisted of one-on-one moments with students, which he said was his favorite part of the job.
“Developing relationships are essential in my career, so I plan to connect with all campus consistency frequently to build trust and community as I have done at Westminster,” McConnell-Black said in an email to The Forum. “I have loved attending student events, and I plan to continue to do the same at Reed.”
Part of this includes scheduling daily one-on-ones in his new schedule, because those interactions may be limited at the vice president level, he told The Forum.
“You’re so lucky to have such an incredible person on your team,” commented Maggie Regier, Westminster alum and former ASW president. “Sad to see him go so you better take care of him!”
McConnell-Black was hired at Reed after an “extensive search process,” according to a statement released by the Oregon school.
At the time of the announcement, there were no updates on Westminster’s search for McConnell-Black’s replacement. This is expected to be announced in the coming months.
“While I might be leaving the college, please know that I will always be connected to Westminster and the students,” McConnell Black said. “This journey has been the highlight of my career.”