In 31 years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, as a Professor of Psychology and as Dean of William Smith College from 1995-2008, Debra K. DeMeis P'06 set a high standard of excellence as a scholar, counselor and campus leader.
During her tenure at the Colleges, DeMeis took on some of the institution's greatest challenges. She chaired the 1995 President's Task Force on Diversity, co-chaired the Residential Education Committee that created the current master plan for residences; co-chaired the committee that created the Collaborative Internship Program; oversaw leadership initiatives for women; helped implement Jumpstart; and helped create the alcohol and other Drugs office. From 2006-2007, DeMeis served as interim Vice President of student affairs.
As Senior Class Dean and Advisor, DeMeis created a program for seniors called "From Here to There" to ease the transition from college to career. She was instrumental in overseeing the addition and renovation of the Scandling Campus Center and served on the Committee on Academic Affairs, the Committee on Athletics, the Enterprise Implementation Steering Committee, the Commission on Inclusive Excellence, the Institutional Review Board and the Wellness Task Force.
An enthusiastic guardian of William Smith traditions and history, DeMeis traveled the country to meet with alumnae about the William Smith Centennial and chaired the steering committee for the Centennial Celebration.
Her impact on campus led to the Dean Debra DeMeis Legacy Award, conceived and created by students. The new annual award "honoring our students in leadership and service" recognizes a student organization that exhibits exceptional leadership and service to HWS and the surrounding community that DeMeis embodied during her time at the colleges. At the 2008 Heron Awards Banquet, she was presented with the Heron Award in recognition of her commitment to William Smith College and the Heron athletics program. The women of Hai Timiai inducted DeMeis into their honor society at the 2008 Moving Up Day Ceremony, thanking her for her dedication and commitment to women's issues.
DeMeis holds a bachelor of science in psychology from Bowling Green State University, and master and doctoral degrees from West Virginia University. She is a reviewer for "Psychology of Women Quarterly" and is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development and the American Psychological Association. She has served on numerous boards of community organizations and regularly volunteers her time.
Few people have become so intimately connected or so closely involved in the day-to-day life of this institution as DeMeis. She is a mentor and guide to thousands who have relied on her for keen insight, devoted leadership and warm guidance. Her compassion and genuine interest in the lives of our students have made her an exceptional mentor, colleague, professor and Dean.