Teresa Ferguson promoted to Dean of Students
As chief of campus safety at SMC for the past decade, Teresa Ferguson – known affectionately around campus as “Chief ” – encountered all sorts of situations. Most interactions with students, staff members and visitors were positive and friendly. Occasionally, she had to put out the metaphorical fire and manage in-the-moment crises. And all along, she thrived in her work by building strong relationships and becoming immersed in the culture of the college.
The experience was a great foundation for Ferguson’s new role: serving as SMC’s dean of students, effective May 1. In her new capacity, she is a member of the college’s senior leadership team and oversees the departments that make up student development: student activities, residence life, campus safety, health services, career development and counseling.
Ferguson handled the transition with her legendary calm and thoughtfulness, making the move to a new office, establishing management of her new staff and planning for the coming academic year look easy. “It was important to me to spend the first few weeks listening and learning from the student development staff,” she said. “I have also reached out to other departments on campus to see how we can collaborate more in regards to student success.”
In addition to serving as chief of campus safety, Ferguson has been an instructor in SMC’s Freshman Year Experience classes, a program she now manages. She has encouraged students to maintain strong communication with professors and to use the college’s tutoring center as a resource when needed. She believes it’s important for students to join organizations and get involved in campus activities, as research indicates that students who are engaged in campus life tend to be happier and more academically successful.
SMC boasts a wide variety of clubs, service organizations and sports teams. Ferguson said she is excited about working with the leaders of campus groups and supporting their efforts to enrich students’ experience.
Since coming to SMC in 2006, Ferguson has made her mark on campus life. In 2015, she received the J.L. Geddis Award for outstanding service to the college. She was, at the time, one of the few female police chiefs in the state of South Carolina (including municipalities). She brought valuable experience to the job, having worked for five years as a community patrol officer and for six years as a school resource officer. Working with young people in an educational setting provided insights into situations she would encounter at SMC.
Ferguson received a B.A. from Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. She earned an M.S. degree in criminal justice administration from the University of Cincinnati. As dean of students, Ferguson’s role will involve more big-picture planning and management. But she will continue to enjoy one-on-one relationships with students and campus employees – and to take a hands-on approach to helping those in need. “I feel as though my role is still a crisis manager and servant leader,” she said.