When Jonathan Yorkowitz graduated from Union University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting, he was planning on pursuing a career in TV news. But a single graduate assistantship in housing and residence life changed his career trajectory. Now, as the new associate dean of students and director of the Dean of Students Office at the University of Florida Division of Student Life, he is driven to make sure students have similar life-changing experiences.
Yorkowitz has over 15 years of professional experience in higher education from five other institutions. He is currently earning a Ph.D. in educational administration and higher education leadership from Indiana State University. Still, his experiences as a limited-income, first-generation student from rural Ohio still impact how he approaches his role today.
“My interaction with systemic issues as they relate to higher education form my professional experience and my outlook on making sure we’re taking care of all students,” Yorkowitz said. “In the college environment, knowing that there are a lot of barriers to success sometimes, there are things we can do as administrators to help reduce those barriers or assist students as they come into contact with difficulties in their lives.”
The Dean of Students Office, or DSO, includes Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and the Care Area. As the DSO’s current home, Peabody Hall, undergoes renovations, Yorkowitz has helped monitor the project’s progress and relocate key services. He said developing productive relationships with leaders and organizations across UF is among his primary goals.
Since starting in April, Yorkowitz has spent his first months in the role familiarizing himself with the ins and outs of UF and Gainesville. He said that he has been impressed with the support and interest UF has invested in the DSO and hopes to build upon it.
“We have to be able to develop alongside our students in terms of the services that we offer, the programs that we offer and the types of support that we offer,” he said. “I’ve learned over time that it’s important to pay close attention to our students and what their needs are in that time and moment. Students are really the reason we’re here.”
Yorkowitz said that as UF staff and students emerge from a “really heavy” year, he wants to ensure adequate support and resources for everyone.
Mostly, he finds it rewarding to lead a team of people invested in the success of both their colleagues and the student population.
“Being able to help refocus on students as the center and making sure that we’re doing all we can to support the student experience — that’s a really big honor,” he said.
He added that settling into Gainesville with his family has also been a priority since he arrived. Taking advantage of the many recreational activities on and off UF’s campus has made it far easier, he said.
“To have a community so large that you feel instantly connected with the whole city is a neat feature of what happens at UF.”
Source: Jonathan Yorkowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Veronica Nocera, email@example.com