Last week an announce email informed the Bates community that Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum and Associate Dean of Students Holley Gurney would be stepping down at the end of the school year. Loved by many Bates students, their presence on campus will surely be missed next year.
When he first arrived at Bates, four months before the Ronj opened, Tannenbaum started working for the college in 1997 as the Housing Coordinator and the Assistant Coordinator of Student Activities. He was promoted to the Assistant Dean of Students in 1999, a role he has had for the past 16 years.
In addition to being a dean, Tannenbaum serves as the advisor to the Chase Hall Committee (CHC) and The Mirror, manages finances for The Bates Student, runs the film board, coordinates the Village Club Series (VCS) and organizes weekly off campus bus trips and the Lewiston-Auburn shuttle. He is also runs nightly Den events such as Mondays at the Den, Tuesday Tea, Wind down Wednesday, learn-to-lessons and Friday Treats once a month. Additionally, he reviews and revises announce email and runs the program that provides The New York Times and The Boston Globe in Commons.
He undeniably has had a major impact on the Bates community.
Although Tannenbaum organizes many of these student activities, he always takes student input into account. For instance, the students who help Tannenbaum run VCS choose all the artists who perform, and in turn he buys them dinner once a week.
Tannenbaum highly values the relationships he has formed with students throughout his time at Bates.
“My interactions with the students has been the most rewarding part of my time at Bates. It’s why I’m here; It’s why I do what I do, and I feel like every day I can make a difference,” Tannenbaum said. “I have that chance every day when I interact with students to try to help them enjoy something or provide them with an opportunity to do something new… I love the joy and the genuine pleasure students get from just doing fun things.”
Tannenbaum recalled working with Sarah Neukom, former President as the CHC, who graduated in 2005. Neukom was in charge of planning events for the Winter Carnival, and currently does professional event planning for 1st Ward Events, a club in Chicago.
“Working with her and watching her put all her energy and effort into those events, and what she learned from both her successes and the failures was great,” Tannenbaum said.
In addition, Tannenbaum oversaw Andrew Byrnes, who graduated in 2005 and was the Vice President of the CHC. Byrnes later won two olympic gold medals for Canada in rowing.
“I love the relationships I’ve developed with students over the years, to watch what they’ve done after they’ve left. Some have come back, and some have gone on to bigger and better things. It’s great,” Tannenbaum said.
Some of Tannenbaum’s finest Bates memories were organizing concerts with students. He recalled, “Some concerts here were spectacular; it was a mad rush at Snoop Dogg. One month ahead we heard that he was available from when the concert happened, so it was a mad rush to put it all together, and watching the tickets sell out online in under two minutes was fantastic.”
Tannenbaum admitted that when there are new activities that he thinks he would enjoy, he becomes especially excited. He also loves to help make students’ ideas for activities happen.
“I remember when we first tried bingo night back in the mid 2000s. There was a student who said, ‘I’m not a grandmother. I’m not going to play bingo.’ We tried it, put out 250 chairs and we had to keep on putting out extra chairs because people kept on showing up. It always gets a huge turn out. It’s always fun to watch people pick that up and enjoy it,” Tannenbaum said.
After the school year is through, Tannenbaum is not sure what he is going to do. “I am looking around. This news is relatively recent for me. Now I’m figuring out what to do next,” Tannenbaum said.
He noted that he and his wife will likely stay in Maine, though their youngest son is starting college in the fall.
“It’s been an honor to work here and work with the students at Bates for the past 18 years. It’s something I’m going to miss very much. It’s definitely is a sad day for me. I’m going to miss the day-to-day interactions with students I hope I’ll still be able to have these kinds of meaningful relationships on a regular basis,” Tannenbaum said.
Dean Gurney was not available for an interview at this time.