This summer, we shine the spotlight on members of the University staff. Read our four-part series here.
Henry Humphreys has focused on improving the student experience for decades. Since his first job teaching troubled teens to his current position as dean of students, he has enjoyed the connection, engagement and fulfillment of creating a comprehensive college experience.
His resume has it all—teacher, student affairs representative, director of residential life, dean of student life, dean of students—which has parlayed into a career fully focused on what it takes to develop services and activities that enrich the college years.
Humphreys began his path teaching developmentally disabled junior and senior high school students. In his next position, he directed the restructuring and renovation of campus buildings as a student affairs representative at Fairfield University. While not as engaging as his first job, he still needed to understand the students’ learning and living perspectives, and how this environment helps them develop more holistically.
His next position took him to St. John’s University, where he designed, built and implemented myriad aspects of the student experience as dean of residential life. Several years later, Boston College recruited him to “enliven and expand the residential experience.”
In 2010, Humphreys accepted a position at MIT as senior associate dean of student life. As he put it, “I basically had to improve everything on campus” for undergraduate and graduate students. He enjoyed the chance to build a cohesive plan that outlined how the school supported students beyond academics.
Years later, a mentor convinced him he needed to “take his position to the next level.” For him, this meant a return to interacting more directly with students, and the position here seemed like the perfect marriage of career aspirations and personal passions. Not only that, Humphreys was fascinated and intrigued by the combination with Thomas Jefferson University. After his first meeting with President Stephen Spinelli, who will serve as chancellor of the combined university, he knew that “here are forward-thinking people who think like I do.”
While challenging at times, Humphreys sees no job more rewarding. “I have one of the few careers that when I retire, I can look back and concretely see how I’ve made a difference in a student’s life,” he said.