Catching up with Dr. Denzil Suite, the new Vice President for Student Life, on eyeing Seattle, serving students and getting lost.
Denzil Suite bought a souvenir cityscape of Seattle during a visit six years ago, which decorated his desk at the University of Southern California, his previous professional home of 10 years. “I just fell in love with Seattle and feel like moving here was maybe meant to be.”
A diehard college football fan, Suite wears a royal-purple dress shirt to the office, reassuringly declaring his newfound Husky loyalty with an enthusiastic, “Go Dawgs!”
Programs serving nearly 43,000 students are under his care. Those include career services, counseling centers, 800 student organizations and recreational sports. He is also responsible for housing and food services for more than 7,000 students who live in university housing.
“I believe the number one thing in terms of a rewarding student-life experience is some level of involvement and group participation. It can be anything— fraternities or sororities, clubs, intramural or intercollegiate sports. Interacting and meeting people different than yourself is the key component.”
A first-generation college graduate, the native New Yorker earned a psychology degree from Ohio State University. He participated in student government and clubs ranging from the Caribbean to Chinese students associations.
“I was a resident adviser in the agricultural hall. My floor was full of farmers and the like. One of my favorite students was a pig farmer.”
“I want students to have access to me and feel that their vice president is working on their behalf and accessible when needed.” Suite plans to meet regularly inperson with students and organizations. Individuals can also directly connect via his new Twitter account: @DenzilJS.
He considered joining the Police Department before pursuing graduate studies. “My passion for education and helping young people has grown in me like a wildfire and it still burns. I believe what I do and what my colleagues do at this university and others is meaningful work. We’re helping make a difference.”
“I was attracted to the UW because it’s an environment where there is somewhat of a seamless connection between the University and surrounding community. Urban environments are uniquely positioned as learning laboratories to help students know how to navigate a dynamic, technologically savvy and interconnected world.”
“The new HUB being back to playing a vital role on campus and changes in housing will be two of the big things students will be seeing this academic year.”
He identifies with being the new kid on campus. “I saw a student with a map who was doing 360-degree turns trying to find things. I felt for him because I don’t know my way around yet either! Thankfully, he asked where Odegaard (Library) was, which is somewhere I actually know!”