Victor J. Arcelus

Dean of Students

Victor J. Arcelus was appointed dean of students effective July 1, 2015. He joined Connecticut College in July 2013 as the dean of student life. He is charged with enhancing and extending the personal and intellectual development of the College's diverse student body. A specialist in holistic learning, Arcelus oversees residential education and living, student engagement and leadership education, health and counseling services, sexual violence education and advocacy, student wellness and health education and the College’s student-governed conduct process. Arcelus reports to the President.

Jefferson Singer

Dean of the College

With the College since 1988, Jefferson Singer is the Faulk Foundation Professor of Psychology and Dean of the College. The Dean of the College is responsible for overseeing the quality of the academic and student life experience.

A licensed psychologist in the State of Connecticut, Singer holds a bachelor's degree in English and psychology from Amherst College, a master's degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale University. He is the author of five books and over 90 articles, chapters, and book reviews in the fields of personality, autobiographical memory and clinical psychology.

Faculty Profile

Sarah Cardwell

Senior Associate Dean of Student Life

As the Senior Associate Dean of Student Life/Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Sarah has oversight of the College's conduct processes, new student orientation, and wellness programs. She works closely with the Director of Student Wellness, Alcohol and Other Drug Education and the Director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy. Sarah serves as the case manager for the CARE Team.

Noel Garrett

Dean of Academic Support and Director of the Academic Resource Center

Joining Connecticut College in 2013, Noel serves as both the Dean of Academic Support and the Director of the Academic Resource Center. As dean, he oversees the Academic Resource Center, writing center, student accessibility services, and the career office. Noel serves as a liaison between the Dean of the College and faculty regarding areas that have to do with student academic success. Along with his student involvement, he also collaborates with all deans in the Office of the Dean of the College in providing effective and timely academic support to Connecticut College. Earning his doctorate in clinical, cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, Noel brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, having previously worked as class dean at Wesleyan University.

“Dare you have the courage to know who you really are.” - Rumi

The Rev. Claudia Highbaugh

Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life

Dean Highbaugh helps meet the religious needs of the College's diverse student body and to integrate the spiritual life of the community into the College's education mission and programs. Students are encouraged to consider larger questions about their purpose and role in this world. As they examine their values and beliefs, they gain a greater appreciation for the values and beliefs of others.

Formerly a member of the faculty at Harvard Divinity School, Dean Highbaugh earned both her doctor of ministry and master of divinity degrees at the Claremont School of Theology and her bachelor's degree in English at Hiram College. At Harvard, she served as chaplain and associate director of ministerial studies. She was formerly the Visiting Davis Chair for Judeo-Christian Values at Ursinus College and prior to that was Associate Chaplain at Yale University. At Yale, she coordinated the work of the Yale Religious Ministry, the umbrella organization for all university religious organizations and faith communities, and worked with undergraduate organizations and with the Yale College Dean's office on student life issues.

Dean Highbaugh works closely with the College's Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Unity House and the Associate Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion. 

John F. McKnight Jr.

Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion

John F. McKnight Jr. is the dean of institutional equity and inclusion at Connecticut College, effective July 1, 2016. 

At Connecticut College, McKnight is responsible for the overall vision and leadership of the work of equity and inclusion, and collaborates with leaders across campus to fulfill its commitment to full participation. He oversees the offices of the associate dean of equity and inclusion, religious and spiritual life, the Womxn’s Center, Unity House, the LGBTQIA Center and the Title IX coordinator.

McKnight holds a doctorate in education, administration, and leadership studies from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master of science in higher education administration from Indiana University Bloomington and a bachelor of science from the University of Florida.

Over the past 10 years, he enjoyed a series of increasingly responsible administrative positions, first at Lehigh University and later, at Lafayette College, where he designed and implemented successful initiatives to foster inclusive campus communities. Of particular note are the programs in intercultural competency and in social justice peer education that he established at Lafayette, both of which have had a singular impact on the campus culture. 

As dean of intercultural development and deputy Title IX coordinator at Lafayette College since 2011, McKnight was responsible for managing five areas within the campus life division, including student leadership and involvement, religious and spiritual life, gender and sexuality programs, international student advising, and intercultural development. He designed and implemented an annual social justice ally development retreat for students and, as coordinator of the bias-response team, co-led the “Civility Project,” a proactive approach to bias education. A natural collaborator, John worked closely with faculty, staff, and students across the divisions to advance programming, advocacy for underrepresented populations, and community building. He also transformed Lafayette’s multicultural recruitment efforts in partnership with the enrollment management division, leading to positive outcomes. He was twice named the Aaron O. Hoff Administrator of the Year, and also received an Excellence in Mentorship Award at Lafayette, in recognition of these efforts.

Marina Melendez

Associate Dean of the College, Dean of Juniors, Seniors and Transfers and POSSE Coordinator

Marina Melendez joined Connecticut College on August 1, 2015. As dean of juniors and seniors, she counsels and advises students on their educational goals while monitoring their progress towards graduation. She also serves as a liaison between students and resources on campus and partners with faculty and staff across the college to ensure academic success. She is the coordinator for POSSE and oversees transfers to the College.

Dean Melendez has held successive leadership positions for the past 16 years at Wesleyan University. At Wesleyan, Dean Melendez coordinated international student services, managed compliance related to international students, directed graduate student services, and served as the interim chief diversity officer and Title IX coordinator while serving as a class dean.

Dean Melendez earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Wesleyan University and her doctorate at the University of Connecticut. She is fluent in Spanish and German and has taught graduate-level courses at Wesleyan and at Saint Joseph’s College.

Emily Chace Morash

Interim Associate Dean of the College and Dean of First-Year Students

Emily Morash, visiting instructor in art history and architectural studies, has been named interim associate dean of the College and dean of first-year students. As such, she counsels and advises first-year students on academic matters.

She and her staff facilitate the First-Year Seminar program and train student advisers (SAs) who work with first-year students as part of the Team Advising program. With the Office of Student Life, they also organize and run orientation.

Since joining Connecticut College in 2012, Morash has taught a range of courses that illustrate how social, political and cultural events shape the built environment, ranging from the Arts and Crafts movement to contemporary architecture to public housing in America. She worked with the First-Year Seminar Steering Committee, First-Year Seminar Pilot Programs and working groups to develop the first-year seminar component of Connections. Her ConnCourse, “Building Culture,” was first offered in 2015-16 and is an interdisciplinary survey of the history of architecture.

Roy Murphy, CPP

Interim Senior Director of Campus Safety

Carmela Patton

Associate Dean of the College, Dean of Sophomores, International Student Adviser

As associate dean of the College/dean of sophomores, Carmela Patton is responsible for working directly with sophomore students and for developing programming that helps sophomores strengthen their connections with the College while helping them prepare to select a major, apply to the College's academic centers and move successfully into their upper class years.

As the international student adviser, Carmela's work with international students spans all four undergraduate years. In collaboration with the Dean of First-Year Students and the Dean of Juniors and Seniors, she assists in creating a successful undergraduate experience for international students.

Faculty Profile

Sara Rothenberger

Assistant Dean for Residential Education and Living

Sara began her career in higher education in 1998 worked at several small colleges before coming to Connecticut College in 2012. She came to Connecticut College because she believes in its mission and values — most specifically its focus on equity and inclusion. Sara is responsible for overseeing the department and directly supervises the professional staff team. Sara has her bachelor's in psychology from Westminster College, a master's in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate in human development with an emphasis in higher education administration. She lives on campus with her partner Jared and their dog Laynie.

Janet Spoltore

Director of Student Counseling Services

Janet Spoltore holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Delaware and a master's in clinical psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She completed her internships at Boston VA Medical Center and Boston University Medical Center and held previous academic appointments at Harvard Medical School, Tufts Medical School and Antioch University.