Kassman to retire after 38 years
Kassman came to the College in 1974 for a one-year postion as acting assistant dean.
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Special Assistant to the President Janice Kassman has decided to retire at the end of this school year after 38 years of service to the College in various positions. Kassman was hired in 1974 for a one-year appointment in Campus Life, but has remained an integral part of the College administration during her entire career here.
College President William Cotter appointed Kassman to the position of Dean of Students in 1982 and said, “It was one of the best appointments I ever made. She was totally student-oriented and fought fiercely for student rights during her entire career at the College.” Kassman joined the administrative staff at a time when there were not many women employed at the College.
Along with her title as dean, Kassman became the first vice president for student affairs in 2001. “For many alumni, Janice is Colby,” Bev Madden ’80 said. Madden is the Chair of the Emeriti Trustees Council, a group of former trustees who wish to continue supporting the College. Former Board of Trustees Chair Jim Crawford ’64 said that Kassman is the “epiptome of Colby spirit…. She is an advocate for students, helping them improve student life and academic life.”
Career Center Director Roger Woolsey said, “As a dean, she had to make disciplinary decisions, but those are exactly what students thanked her for… and those were what changed their lives for the better.” After 25 years as dean of students, Kassman stepped down from this position and became the special assistant to the president. This position had not existed before, was created specifically for Kassman and will not be filled after she leaves.
Her connections to alumni, parents and others made her very valuable in this position.
Among many other projects, Kassman has worked on multicultural recruitment and help students make connections after college. Woolsey said, “She spear-headed the Alumni of Color Network, both on campus and off….You have no idea how many alumni came back and said, ‘Janice has changed my life.’”
Kassman has also been instrumental in the Colby Achievement Program in the Sciences (CAPS), an effort to diversify the group of students who pursue the sciences. J. Warren Merrill Associate Professor of Biology Andrea Tilden said that Kassman is “a force of nature.” She said that Kassman has been instrumental in building the CAPS program and felt that the implementation of the program would have been much more difficult without Kassman’s involvement.
“The faculty had a framework for the program,” Tilden said, but the recruitment of students was an issue that was difficult to approach. Through her “endless Rolodex,” Tilden said that Kassman was able to connect with Colby alumni and families who worked in the underserved school systems from which the program wanted to recruit. Tilden also said that Kassman’s attention to detail has been instrumental to the program, focusing not only on the academics of the program, but also making sure that the CAPS students feel at home at the College.
“She was a great influence during my CAPS summer and will continue to be an inspiration,” Courtney McIntosh-Peters ’14 said.
Kassman has also been the advisor to a number of student groups, including Broadway Musical Revue (BMR). Many years of BMR performers have seen Kassman as a mother to the group. Kendall Hatch ’12, one of the BMR directors, said of Kassman, “You are one of the most deeply caring mentors I’ve had the honor to encounter at Colby. I will treasure our friendship always. There will always be a table for you at BMR.”
Many students see Kassman as an integral part of the College. Claire Donegan ’12 said, “You are the embodiment of everything I have come to love so much about Colby: friendship, laughter, excitement and trust.”
Student Post Office Supervisor Allen LaPan said that Kassman has taken a special interest in students during her entire career at the College, being tough when she needed to be but also giving students the chance to grow and learn from their experiences. “Her role of dean was surpassed by her instinct to be your friend,” LaPan said.