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  • Collegian staff

Abbas Hill aims to use his background, values to inform his new Dean of Students position

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Emma Innes

Staff writer

As previously [announced], Willamette University has hired Abbas Hill to fill the new Dean of Students for Community Care and Inclusion position. Hill is currently at [Rogers Williams University] (RWU) and will start at Willamette July 1. The Collegian talked with Hill about his new position and how his past will influence his work.

Hill said he chose Willamette because it’s a “beautiful institution” and that the dean position attracted him. Hill described the dean position as a great opportunity to serve students and staff, with the community care and inclusion part of the title being particularly attractive to him: “The equity and inclusion lens that the position has as well was enticing to me because I believe that equity and inclusion is work that we all need to do in front of staff, no matter what our titles are. But also our students, we all need to be doing the work for each other. So the fact that it was for community care and inclusion, that was very important for me when I was applying.”

Hill said he is influenced by his background and experience of being a Muslim and Black man everyday. Hill said along with a value system of how to treat people, he utilizes his experience and feelings of being part of a marginalized community to empathize with students who are part of other marginalized groups. Hill has past experience with multicultural programs and handling student conduct. During his [interview forum], Hill said the part of the position he had the least experience with is the application of Title IX rules—but he does know the rules from partnering with Title IX coordinators.

Willamette’s Vice President of Student Affairs Lisa Landreman was previously at RWU as well before she came to Willamette in the summer of 2020. When asked if there was a connection, Hill said Landreman was his supervisor and knowing she would be his supervisor again was something he thought about while applying for the dean of students position at Willamette. Hill said he was able to do great work with Landreman at RWU and is excited about the work they will be able to do at Willamette.

When asked if he has a message for the student body, Hill said: “I am looking forward to getting to know students much better when I'm on campus and welcome those opportunities from students. I'm looking forward to getting to know the campus. I'd like to get to learn the campus a lot more. And really having a great academic year next year with everybody.”

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