by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Early in her career, Joyce Bylander articulated one overarching goal: to help change the world. Now, she’s being recognized for her successes on that score, helping to build a more just, equitable and sustainable society through service, advocacy, mentorship and education.
Bylander, vice president and dean of student life, is a recipient of the 2017 Peacemakers Award, bestowed by the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, a regional chapter of a national network dedicated to engaging community members in global issues through special programs, travel and other learning opportunities. Presented on Sept. 16, the award names Bylander as one of several exceptional community leaders who work toward peacemaking and demonstrate respect for the dignity and humanity of all citizens.
“This award was a real surprise to me,” Bylander said, during the award ceremony. “I want each day to live a life that makes me worthy of such an honor.”
Bylander holds a B.A. in psychology and social service from Cleveland State University and a M.P. A. in public administration from the University of South Carolina. She worked in child welfare, community mental health and adoption services before beginning a career in higher education in 1988. She arrived at Dickinson the following year as associate dean of students, and in the years since, she has served as dean, associate provost for campus academic life and special assistant to the president for institutional and diversity initiatives before being appointed dean and vice president in 2013.
In this role, Bylander leads student life programs at the college, overseeing the departments of public safety, residence life & housing, student conduct, LGBTQ services, student leadership & campus engagement, intramurals & recreation, as well as the Career Center, Women's & Gender Resource Center, Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity, Wellness Center, Center for Spirituality, Service & Social Justice, the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life, and the Prevention, Education & Advocacy Center. She also is the campus liaison for Dickinson's Posse Foundation program, and she teaches social-justice courses and spearheads student-development initiatives.
This work has brought her in close contact with countless students over the years, and Bylander often keeps in touch with them and their families after graduation. Many speak of the lasting effects she has had on their lives.
That was the case for Lindsay Bowman ’04, a World Affairs Council board member, middle-school teacher and former political science major at Dickinson who got to know Bylander while studying on campus along with twin sister Lisa Bowman Harman '04. More than a decade later, she still keeps an inspirational letter that Bylander sent to members of her graduating class, and she remembers the lessons learned.
“Dean B. treats all people with respect. She will engage in the difficult conversations from which others shy away,” says Bowman, who teaches and coaches at Harrisburg Academy. “She is often a voice in my head as I attempt to guide my students through the challenges of school life with the same grace she shared with us ... She deserves all of this recognition and more.”
Published September 20, 2017