The College has hired multiple new staff members this fall, four of whom will be working closely with students in order to improve the student experience.

Brandon Royce-Diop joins Bowdoin as Assistant Dean of Upperclass Students, replacing Assistant Dean Christopher Dennis. He will focus on working with students with last names beginning with A-L, and will also serve as alternative Judicial Board Advisor. Royce-Diop served in an number of leadership roles in Minneapolis, most recently as Dean of Students at the Fair School in Crystal, Minnesota.

Royce-Diop’s experience includes leading and co-founding the Kente Summit for Collegiate Black Males at Macalester College and the New Lens Urban Mentoring program through the St. Paul Public School, two leadership and mentoring programs. 

Currently earning his Master’s in Education at the University of St. Thomas, Royce-Diop holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. John’s University. 

Chicago native Ben Harris is Bowdoin’s new Director of Multicultural Life. He is tasked with creating positive experiences for students from a variety of backgrounds. Harris said his attraction to Bowdoin stems from the small size and warm student body.

“It’s an opportunity to have some impactful learning and to work with folks,” Harris said. “It’s such a small and intimate place.” 

Before spending four years as assistant director of the Center for Black Culture at the University of Delaware, Harris earned his masters degree in English from Illinois State University and a B.A. from Elmhurst College. One of Harris’ primary goals at Bowdoin is to generate discussion about issues of race, diversity, education and privilege. 

“I think it’s important that we create opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds who have this Bowdoin experience and also to provide [them with] resources to be successful,” Harris said.

Other new staff members are already familiar with campus. Recent Bowdoin graduate Laurel Varnell ’14 stepped into the role of Associate Director of Student Activities this fall. 

Varnell’s primary task is to oversee a variety of campus-wide events, along with programming for Jack Magee’s Pub & Grill and the Craft Center. Additionally, she will act as a staff liaison to the first-year class council. As a student, Varnell served in numerous leadership roles on campus, including positions for Residential Life (ResLife), Relay for Life and the Women’s Resource Center. As a staff member, she aims to translate the desires of students into a College-funded reality. 

Varnell said that her attraction to this position stemmed from her past work in ResLife.

“As an RA and proctor, I loved helping students navigate their path while at Bowdoin,” Varnell said. “I am able to continue do that in a professional way. [This job] is the perfect fit for me.”

Following graduation, Varnell worked at the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit legal firm in New York City. In her one-year fellowship position, Varnell represented clients in administrative court to claim public benefits.

Varnell said that her past Bowdoin experience will allow her to better address the needs of current students.

“When I was a student here, I had always dreamed about doing Student Activities,” Varnell said. “To be able to work in a department where [planning events] is their job is something I am very excited about.”

Varnell hopes to incorporate student artwork in her mission to revamp study spaces on campus, such as David Saul Smith Union. She also aims to reinvigorate the Craft Center through student-instructed courses and a reduced membership fee.

Also new to the college is alum Khoa Khuong ’04, who will be the new Assistant Dean of First-Year Students and Advisor to International Students.

“It feels really weird,” said Khuong. “I remember back when I was a student and I had this impression of the dean’s office as this place where you don’t want to go, but now that I’m in this job, I’m like ‘Wow, we do so much more than discipline people.’"

Khuong started on August 3 and has since been working closely with the first-year class. Before returning to Bowdoin, he taught math for 11 years, most recently at North Yarmouth Academy. 

“At first I wasn’t sure about this job because I didn’t have any experience with higher education, but I really enjoy advising international students because I consider myself international,” said Khuong, who grew up in Vietnam. “So I’m looking forward to working with international students and helping them.” 

Khuong is looking forward to working with all first-year students to help them feel welcome at Bowdoin by connecting them to the College’s resources. 

“There are a lot of new things I am taking on in terms of this job and this new position, and my goal is to do this job well,” Khuong said. “For me, [it’s] to make sure that I know faculty and what the resources are here. I feel like I am a liaison for my first-year students.”