Bergh’s last day at JSC: June 30


Gunter Kleist

Dave Bergh

David Bergh, dean of student life and college relations, will be leaving his position at JSC on June 30. He has accepted another position at Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, New York.

Bergh has been working at JSC for 19 years and through three JSC presidencies, the longest he’s been anywhere in his life.

“It’s a bittersweet decision,” said Bergh. “I have nothing but appreciation and gratitude towards this place and for my time here. So I will continue to follow and pay attention to Johnson State in the future and hope for its successes because it’s a place that’s been really important to me. And I think that the students that we work with here have just been remarkable to get to know over the years.”

His new position at Cazenovia will be Vice President of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness.

“There’s a number of departments I’ll oversee, but the larger focus of it will be just kind of carrying out initiatives to ensure the college’s success, so helping to drive strategic planning and supporting through planning the priority initiatives that they’ve identified to move forward and have a successful future,” said Bergh. “So in some ways, it will be a more administrative role than I have now, but I’m also feeling ready for that as well.”

Bergh’s new job will be much closer to his family, primarily his mother. He will also be returning to his “native area:” central New York State.

“I’m excited about the new opportunities and the new challenges that I’ll have with the position that I’m going to be taking on and the chance to explore some new areas of work,” said Bergh.

According to an email from President Elaine Collins, Bergh has served in “various positions” over his years at Johnson State and has made many contributions to JSC.

“I just look at the student services that we offer here, and I think about the wellness center, I think about what we offer in residence life, student activities, and his representation of having the students’ best interests in the forefront of his mind,” said Associate Dean of Students Michele Whitmore. “To me, those are his biggest accomplishments, and I don’t believe that we would have the student community we have without his leadership.”

Daniel Regan, dean of academic affairs, said that Bergh has helped “break down the boundaries” between student life and academic life.

“Dave understands and knows deeply that a student’s education is, but is not just, his or her experience in the classroom, but is his or her experience everywhere else a well,” said Regan. “So he honors the classroom and celebrates its importance, but also recognizes the other dimensions in a student’s overall education.”

Bergh’s contributions go far beyond the duties commonly associated with his dean of student life portofolio, according to Regan. “He is also one of the rare people who is as skilled in high-level planning and future thinking as he is in day-to-day operations and activities,” said Regan. “So Dave really operates at two levels simultaneously . . . He is a true intellectual, which is very uncommon . . [He is] very broad, very well-read, very articulate in a wide range of areas. He’s not just a narrow specialist in some particular field that has a little box drawn around it.”

Bergh mentioned that one of the greatest challenges, both for himself and JSC, continues to be the lack of state funding and allocation of funds from Vermont State Colleges.

“We just don’t simply get the resources that we should in order to support the work that we do,” said Bergh. “I really think that we have not done well by higher education in the state in terms of funding . . . So I’ll turn this into a positive and say that I think one of the things I’ve always been impressed with at this college is how, through collaboration and creativity, we are able to try to compensate for the lack of financial support that we get.”

Bergh said that he likes to think he’s had a positive impact on “campus culture” and ensuring that student voices and different perspectives are heard.

“I think over 19 years, what I’ve been proudest about was just making sure that the student voice was always the driver when we were making decisions that impacted the student experience,” said Bergh.
A specific achievement that Bergh is proud of is JSC’s recent external recognition as an LGBTQ-friendly campus.

Bergh’s influence has not been limited to the immediate campus, however. According to Regan, he has also extended his reach into the outer community and greatly improved “town-gown” relations.

“He’s done so much for this college in the last 19 years,” said Whitmore, “but I just feel as though the students are getting the best education, the best college experience, because of his leadership as our dean of students and never wavering from what’s most important, and that’s student success and graduation. So I give him major kudos for all of that.”

Regan stated that he will miss Bergh “both as a colleague and as a friend.” Whitmore mirrored this sentiment.

“I’m really sad to see him go,” said Whitmore. “Those are big shoes to fill.”