Seasoned Administrator is Named Dean of Students

Dr. Gene Fitch, Jr., an academic administrator with the largest undergraduate university in Tennessee, will join UT Dallas in August as the new dean of students. 

Fitch replaces Donna Rogers, who is retiring after 31 years.

“To work directly with students on a regular basis, and hopefully impact them in a way that positively changes their lives and careers and empowers them to be leaders, is a rewarding job,” Fitch said.  “For those reasons, I’m very much looking forward to joining UT Dallas as dean of students.”

Fitch, who has more than 20 years’ administrative, leadership and program planning experience — eight of them at the assistant/associate vice president level, and four at the dean of students level — will report directly to Dr. Darrelene Rachavong, vice president for Student Affairs.  He will serve as a member of Rachavong’s leadership team.

Investing in top-quality people is paramount as the University grows its student population, Rachavong says.

“Hiring a dean of students with Gene Fitch’s background and experience makes us stronger,” Rachavong said.  “His knowledge will be a boon for our programs, and I believe he will become a great resource for our students.”     

In his new role, Fitch will provide management and supervision to the Dean of Students Office, including student conduct and conflict resolution, formation and interpretation of University policies, disability services, fraternity and sorority life, the Student Union and Activities Advisory Board, spirit programs, student government, student media and student organizations.

He also will oversee such major events as Academic Integrity Week, Welcome Week and Homecoming, and he will coordinate Student Affairs’ participation in major student recruitment events.

As dean of students, Fitch also will provide coordination for Student Affairs’ crisis and critical incident management, including the Behavior Assessment and Intervention Team.  As needed, he will act as the main liaison with other units of the University on individual student issues.

“After I arrive in August, I look forward to meeting with the staff who are key to the day-to-day operations in my division,” Fitch said.  “I’m ready to learn more about UT Dallas and its student life initiatives.”

Fitch will join UT Dallas from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where he is the associate vice president of student affairs and dean of student life.  In that position, he supervises campus recreation, student health services, student unions and programming, student publications, judicial affairs, the spirit program and the associate dean for student life. 

MTSU has a student enrollment of more than 25,000.

While at MTSU, Fitch also assisted in the construction and opening of a new student health, wellness and recreation facility.  He previously oversaw construction of a new 197,000-square-foot, $60 million student union at MTSU

Also at MTSU, Fitch chaired the University Rules Committee, served as an adviser to the University Discipline Committee and was the ex-officio chair of the Student Appeals Committee.  In addition, he served as the chief judicial officer and was responsible for student discipline, adjudicating about 200 cases a year.

Prior to MTSU, Fitch worked at the University of Arkansas, where he was responsible for the registration of about 250 student organizations, including monitoring the academic eligibility of more than 900 student organization officers a year.  Before that, he spent two years supervising the University of Arkansas student programming board. 

Fitch holds an EdD from the University of Arkansas, a master’s in  education from Arkansas Tech University, and a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University.

Donna Rogers, who joined UT Dallas in 1979, said she’s leaving the Dean of Students Office in capable hands.

“It’s clear that Gene Fitch is very student-oriented in his approach, and that fits well with the culture at UT Dallas,” Rogers said.  “I think Student Affairs is ready for its next dean of students, a new leader to help student activities and student services grow and expand for the next generation.

“I’m sad to leave UT Dallas, but I’m proud of having worked with our students on getting The Pub up and running, as well as my involvement in improvements in Disability Services, the Student Union expansion and growing our freshman programs,” Rogers continued.  “I’ve loved the judicial affairs aspect of my job and working with students in that arena.  You never know how you might impact a student’s life for the better, and it’s always rewarding to help students for the better.”    

Rachavong added that Rogers would be missed.

“Donna Rogers has been an integral part of building student life at UT Dallas, beginning with the Learning Resource Center 30 years ago, and including athletics, the Greek system, living learning communities, Freshman Year Experience programs and, more recently, the design of the new Dining Hall and Student Services Building,” Rachavong said.  “Her contributions to the University are immense, and she’s had an amazing influence on the growth of Student Affairs.”

Dr. Gene Fitch, Jr. has been an academic administrator at Middle Tennessee State University.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].