Making the Transition: Advice for Dukes from Dukes

JMU Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Mr. Arthur Dean offers advice for graduating seniors.


As the Harrisonburg spring weather is FINALLY starting to show itself, we find ourselves less than three weeks away from JMU’s undergraduate commencement ceremony. While students are preparing for their final exams and orchestrating plans for summer, JMU’s senior class is counting down the days until May 10th, and excitedly anticipating their upcoming post graduate journeys. On April 8th, Career and Academic Planning published this article containing advice for graduating seniors from JMU Associate Vice President for University Planning and Analysis, Dr. Brian Charette. This week, Mr. Arthur Dean, JMU’s Special Assistant to the President for Diversity offers his insights for the Class of 2014.

Mr. Dean works with staff and students providing support and assistance as well as forging relationships with organizations and corporations outside of the university.  He directly oversees and supports the Diversity Enhancement Awards Program, Intergroup Dialogue Task Force, Annual Diversity Conference, Diversity Council Chairs, Office of Equal Opportunity and the Centennial Scholars Program. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, he provides invaluable insight to the diverse needs of all faculty, staff and students.  He also oversees professional development, instructs courses, and advises students for the College Student Personnel Administration Master’s Program. He is an active member of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Boys & Girls Club Board.  Currently, he serves on the executive board of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) and was instrumental in initiating the Virginia Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (VADOHE) chapter (

We asked Mr. Dean three questions that will assist graduating seniors as they take on the professional scene. Here is what Mr. Dean had to share:

If you could give your 20-year-old self any advice, what would that be?

  • People are more valuable than a position or title
  • Build relationships (listen, learn and share as necessary) Your view or voice aren’t the only  ones in the room
  • Do it now, why wait
  • Enjoy the journey, each experience cannot be recaptured in life
  • Keep your mind set of work hard and play hard (keep doing things away from work and build connections with people not always in the sphere/working world)
  • Private communication can lead to public influence
  • Keep the people in your corner first on your agenda, they are the ones with you in the battle and enjoyment of your life
  • Don’t avoid the challenging trails, they prepare you to do more in life

What are the most valuable lessons you learned throughout your transition to becoming a professional?

  • Be patient, life will always come back around
  • Do what’s right all of the time, learn from everyone, support your supervisor

Are there any motivational or inspirational books that you would recommend to students who will soon be entering the professional scene? What are they?

Maxwell/21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; Becoming a Person of Influence; Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn

Swenson/Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives

We hope that Mr. Dean’s words will point graduating seniors in a direction of excitement and determination as they take on the opportunities that come after graduation. Additionally, if there is anything Career and Academic Planning can do to make the transition better for you, please contact us at


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