by Christine Nappi, Features Editor
After a semester long search, the Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students will be fulfilled by Dr. Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel starting Feb. 3.
As Associate Vice President for Student Life, Abreu-Hornbostel will oversee residence life, the counseling center and health services. As Dean of Students, Abreu-Hornbostel will be addressing student concerns and enhancing student life on campus.
“We’re really hoping with all of her strengths that she’ll develop synergies between those units because we want them to be working together, supporting the total student, and I’m convinced she’s got the level of leadership and knowledge of the job to do that,” Dr. Richard Satterlee, Vice President of Student Life and search committee hiring manager said. “She’s responsible for all student conduct other than academic conduct.”
Abreu-Hornbostel has worked in higher education for nearly 15 years, recently serving as Pratt Institution’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator. Prior to Pratt, she was the Director of Equity and Inclusion and Director of the Women’s Center at Montclair State University.
The process to fill this position began mid-September and continued through the end of last semester. After receiving roughly 100 applications, the search committee narrowed it down to four qualified applicants, ultimately selecting Abreu-Hornbostel. As Satterlee and Lois Harr, Associate Vice President and chair of the search committee claim, an integral part of selecting a new Associate VP and Dean of Students was including student perspective in the decision process. Going forward, Satterlee hopes to incorporate student involvement in similar decisions.
“With this job, it’s such a broad constituency of campus people,” Satterlee said. “It was really important to have students involved and then administration, especially across the student life division.”
Abreu-Hornbostel holds many characteristics and interests that appealed to members of the search committee during the selection process. For one, her commitment and passion of being available for students peaked the college’s interest.
“She seemed very student focused and she talked about using data from research to gather information, to make decisions [and] ask students what they think,” Harr said. “[She’ll] bring people together and talk and say ‘how can we solve this problem.’”
Abreu-Hornbostel was attracted to the college for many reasons, such as the education possibilities for students, especially pertaining to first-generation college students, as well as the core LaSallian principles Manhattan prides itself upon. Although her previous institutions did not clearly define these principles such as Manhattan does, her prior work reflects the core values. While channeling these values, she has coordinated a plethora of projects and initiatives to better not only a campus community, but the community as a whole. In her past experience she organized many initiatives ranging from opening Pratt’s Center for Equity and Inclusion, establishing the first LGBTQ center in New Jersey at a public institution and founding the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
“What I loved about Manhattan college and the idea of the La Sallian principles is that we were going to learn with underpinnings that created a whole person,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “Concern for the poor, quality education, the inclusive community, God and action and the faith in the presence of God was really important because it resonated with the way that I live my life.”
Not only do the principles of the college and characteristics of the student body peak her interest, but the location of the college holds a special place in her heart. When moving from the Dominican Republic to the United States, Abreu-Hornbostel lived in Riverdale and grew up in Van Cortlandt Park where she first learned to speak English.
“It felt like a full circle moment in my life and what was beautiful about it was as soon as I got to the campus I did feel at home,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “I felt very comfortable and I could see me being able to motivate the students and promote the school in a way that was very authentic because it was coming from my heart.”
Harr relates Abreu-Hornbostel’s demeanor to the folktale “Stone Soup,” which follows the story of strangers encouraging the whole community to each add ingredients to a pot of soup, representing what it means to share with others and belong to a community. Abreu-Hornbostel describes how her passion for the idea of togetherness and working with different types of “experts” and “minds” on projects helps to achieve the best possible results.
“Talking to her made me feel like she could make stone soup, something we don’t have that we will have,” Harr said.
As Associate VP of Student Life and Dean of Students, Abreu-Hornbostel hopes to enhance student life in general, particularly working to better commuter student experience. The main goal of Abreu-Hornbostel’s work is to listen and act upon the needs and desires of students.
“I’m one of those people that looks for what’s missing,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “I want to know what lights up the students, what makes them excited and how might I be able to build on that, scaffold it into something that stays there and has permanent structure.”
Abreu-Hornbostel is eager to begin her work at Manhattan. Not only does she plan to improve the lives of the students and the campus community, but she hopes to be a familiar face to the student body and be someone students can confide in.
“Being part of the Manhattan College family really draws me for both professional reasons but also for personal reasons,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “It’ll be really wonderful to get back to Riverdale.”
Editor’s Note: Rose Brennan and Anna Woods are members of The Quadrangle staff.