When Chapman University's 2,200 students reported for the new academic year Monday, they were greeted by a new dean of students. Joseph Kertes, formerly associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts at USC, is now the arbiter of student life on the Chapman campus.
"Despite the fact that it's a small university compared with USC, it's a big job," Kertes said. "I'm just in the throes of discovering what it entails."
The position Kertes holds is a new one, created as part of campus administrative reforms.
"We want to create a seamless working environment between the social, academic and spiritual life of the student," said Cindy Dougherty, vice president for enrollment and student life.
Kertes now supervises facets of student life including activities, health service, housing, the campus ministry, career and life planning, academic support, community outreach programs and the student dining service.
Kertes, who holds a doctorate in psychology, worked on the USC campus for more than 20 years, starting as a teaching assistant in 1971.
After barely two years as a teacher, Kertes made the jump into administration when he was appointed assistant dean of student affairs in 1973.
"I thought it would be a way station for a while before I went into private practice as a psychotherapist," Kertes said. "Staying in higher education was not the game plan.
"Aside from a small private practice I maintained until recently, I have never left higher education," Kertes continued. "One of the things I came to realize is that private practice can be extremely isolating. Working with faculty and students puts you on the cutting edge of knowledge."
Kertes, a native of Austria, has lived in the Los Angeles area since the age of 5. His wife is an Orange native.
"We used to come and visit Orange when we were both in college," Kertes said. "Little did I think then I would be here so many years later."