Dean of Students Allen Groves will leave the University effective July 1 to serve as senior vice president of student experience at Syracuse University after more than 14 years at the University, according to an announcement from UVAToday Monday.
“It has been a singular honor to serve my alma mater as University-wide Dean of Students these past 14 years,” Groves said to UVAToday. “I’ve led a remarkable team of professionals and worked alongside exceptional student leaders in striving to create the best possible experience for our students. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to do something I love at a place that has given me so much, stretching back to my own time as a student here.”
After completing his undergraduate degree at Stetson University, Groves graduated from the University’s School of Law in 1990. He then worked as an attorney in Atlanta for 16 years before returning to the University in 2006 as the first full-time development director for the Division of Student Affairs. Groves was named dean of students in June 2008.
As Dean of Students, Groves has overseen Student Engagement, Housing and Residence Life, the University’s residential colleges, fraternity and sorority life, Multicultural Student Services, orientation and new student programs and the management of student gathering spaces such as Newcomb Hall and the 1515 Building on the Corner. Groves also serves as a member of the University’s Critical Incident Management and Threat Assessment Teams, and his office manages the Just-Report-It incident reporting website and the Dean-on-Call incident response system, designed to increase community safety.
During his time at the University, Groves broke a Guinness world record for the most high-fives by an individual in a single hour, was recognized for LGBTQ+ leadership and served as a point of contact for students and parents regarding adjustment to University life, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse and the University’s Standards of Conduct.
On the night of Aug. 11, 2017 — when white nationalists marched through Grounds — Groves was there, trying to escort student counter-protestors who had surrounded the Thomas Jefferson statue north of the Rotunda to safety.
According to Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia Lampkin, Groves’ expertise on first amendment issues was a crucial part of his success at the University. Groves is a member of the Committee on Free Expression and Free Inquiry, and over his first two years as dean of students, he worked with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to eliminate all unconstitutional speech codes from University policy, earning the University a “green light” rating from the organization — meaning that the University’s free speech policies do not seriously imperil speech.
Groves’ commitment to free speech was one he maintained throughout his tenure as dean of students, repeatedly warning students and faculty about the dangers of suppressing free speech or banning “hate speech,” which he said would carve away at students’ rights.
In his new role at Syracuse University, Groves will oversee programs, services and personnel ranging from student health and career services to multicultural affairs and residence life.
“The challenges facing students at Syracuse University and elsewhere are complex and demand a transparent, collaborative, direct and responsive approach,” Groves said to Syracuse University News. “We live in a rapidly changing world, and I hope to work with students on engagement and advocacy that prepares them for a life filled with purpose.”
Robyn Hadley, incoming vice president and chief student affairs officer, will begin planning to find Groves' successor after she assumes her role on June 1.
This story has been updated with information about plans to find Groves' successor.