As the end of the semester draws near and students prepare for finals, Roger Serr, Vice President of Student Affairs, prepares for retirement after 23 years of working at Shippensburg University.
Serr said what he will miss most about the university are the students.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with students over the years, having conversations and putting policies and programs in place to deal with social equity and justice issues,” Serr said.
Serr explained that he relishes the supportive community SU embodies, as he has seen people pull together time and time again to support students no matter what issues they face.
“That has always been a fun thing to be engaged in and to watch,” he said.
Serr first came to understand the personality of SU when he interviewed for the position of dean of students 23 years ago.
“I actually came in a day early and I just wandered the campus and talked to students,” Serr said.
He explored the offices of the Ceddia Union Building (CUB) where he was met with friendly faces.
“That set the tone very quickly,” Serr said. “People were nice. It was a place that had a focus on students. That was very evident and that was very important to me.”
Serr grew up in a town of about 500 people on an Indian reservation in rural South Dakota, where the nearest doctor was about 80 miles away.
“There weren’t a whole lot of social activities for us,” He said. “In some ways, there was a deprivation, but in other ways there was not because we had things we could do outside and we had a lot of freedom.”
Serr first attended a small state school in South Dakota called Northern State University. From there, he obtained his master’s degree at Western Illinois University before moving to Michigan State for his doctorate. As an undergraduate student, Serr was involved in student government, which was advised by the dean of students.
“We [Serr and the dean] were walking across campus one day after a meeting, and I remember looking at him and saying ‘how do you do what you do?’ and so he said, ‘let’s get together and talk about it,’ and that kind of started it all,” Serr said. “He took an interest in me and one thing led to another.”
Although Serr enjoyed studying at Michigan State, his experience at the university of about 42,000 students showed him that he would be happiest in a smaller location. When he saw the job posting for dean of students at SU, he knew it was the right fit for him.
“It was back in the East and it was the right size, so it just kind of had everything I was looking for,” Serr said. “Twenty-three years later, it’s home.”
Serr’s wife, Konnie Serr, will continue to teach as a first-grade lab school teacher at SU after Serr retires, but the two plan to do some traveling when the semester ends.
“We own some property down in West Virginia on the Cacapan River, so I’m looking forward to spending more time down there,” Serr said.