New Dean of Students Named

Michael A. Freeman brings decades of student development experience to his role at USF.


By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2013) — Michael A. Freeman, a higher education administrator with more than 25 years of experience in strategic planning, program management, curriculum development and student engagement has been named the new assistant vice president and dean for students at the University of South Florida.


Presently an assistant professor of higher education at Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he teaches and advises a diverse group of doctoral students while also conducting collaborative research in higher education with an emphasis on student affairs, he will assume his responsibilities at USF beginning on March 4.


As vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Tennessee State from 2006 to 2011, Freeman was charged with facilitating beyond-classroom learning and engagement for the university’s more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Offices and programs under his supervision included residence life, student activities, career development services, parent relations, health and counseling services, wellness, and recreation.

He also coordinated TSU’s various enrollment management functions, including recruitment and admissions, financial aid, scholarships, new student orientation, and first-year programs, earning the regard of his colleagues as an innovative and enthusiastic communicator with a positive approach and genuine compassion for students’ concerns. He spearheaded the university’s use of social media to help track first-year classes, was the founder of Leadership TSU — a leadership skills development program — and also introduced a financial literacy and planning process for parents and students as part of orientation.


“I am excited by the level of energy, expertise, and commitment that Dr. Freeman adds to our efforts to provide a learning environment that extends beyond the classroom and empowers students to explore their passions,” said Dee Siscoe, interim vice president for student affairs at USF.

“He has demonstrated an enthusiasm for his work in support of students’ growth and development that serves to both elevate their level of engagement and enrich their sense of community. He seems to embody perfectly our motto in Student Affairs — Inspiring Students, Changing Lives, One Student at a Time — and I am confident of the substantial impact he will have in our classrooms, residence halls, social and recreational spaces, and throughout campus.”

Prior to his years at TSU, Freeman served as vice president, dean, and secretary to the board of trustees at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay State’s designated honors college and one of the nation’s top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts institutions. During his 1999 to 2006 tenure as vice president, St. Mary’s received national attention for raising its retention rate for students of color by 150 percent.


He joined the college in 1984 as associate director for minority recruitment and services, and was promoted quickly to the post of director of minority affairs. In 1987, he was named director of residence life. From 1993 to 1995, Freeman served as senior academic adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, before returning to St. Mary’s in the role of dean of student affairs.


He began his higher education career as an academic counselor within special support services at the University of Iowa, where he received his bachelor of general studies degree in psychology and sociology in 1980. He later earned his master’s degree in counselor education, also from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in counseling and personnel services from the University of Maryland.


Following his latest visit to campus, Freeman said the level of activity and excitement exhibited by USF students was impressive.


“I walked the grounds, witnessed the Bull Market, and attended a basketball game the same evening. I look forward to the students at USF showing me additional aspects of what it means to be a Bull and to becoming a fully involved member of the Bulls community. I plan to be visible, accessible, and engaged.”


Expected to be among the first to greet Freeman when he arrives full time is Student Body President and University Trustee Brian Goff, who said Freeman’s “experience, knowledge, and passion for student involvement is eagerly awaited” by all USF students.


Kevin Burke can be reached at 813-974-0192.