Steven Syverson. You know you’ve seen his name, his signature, on something before. Think hard. Still not getting it? As Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Dean Syverson signs each and every one of the hundreds of admission letters that Lawrence sends out to prospective students each spring, the same letter you received as recently as one year ago.Los Angeles native Syverson has been a member of the Lawrence University faculty since 1983. What he actually does varies greatly depending on the time of year. During the summer months, he oversees the several on-campus open houses geared towards prospective students, and he does the same from mid-September to mid-October. Later on in the fall season, early decision applications start to roll through the Admissions Office, and then regular applications in January and February. Though admissions counselors get to do all the first read-throughs of the applications, Syverson gets the final “look-see” before prospectives are admitted or denied.
“February is stressful!” he says, due to the incredible amount that’s going on. At this time, there are more open houses, more Conservatory auditions, and decision letters to be sent out by mid-March. Once students start to accept or reject their admission, there are even more open houses for them to attend. Between the high school seniors who have decided to attend Lawrence the next fall, and the juniors who may be looking at the college for the first time, “We get schizophrenic!” says Syverson.
Syverson’s undergraduate education comes from California’s Pomona College. Originally, he was on track to major in biology, but decided to take a year and a half off after his sophomore year to figure out what he really wanted to study. When he returned, he pursued a self-designed, interdisciplinary major in psychology and physical education. After that, he began working with the disabled. “I am really interested in the mind and body interaction,” he says. He worked with the developmentally disabled in Eastern Los Angeles, where he jokingly says he was “the token Anglo” in the mostly Hispanic community.
So if he grew up in Los Angeles, how did he end up in the Midwest? Mostly through having the right connections. Syverson was a runner in college, and while at a former coach’s party, bumped into someone who was retiring from their dean’s position in order to take one elsewhere, and suggested the position to him. From then on, one thing led to another, and one day he received a phone call from President Warch, asking if he’d be interested in the job at Lawrence. He was offered both a position here and one at all-men’s Wabash College in Indiana. The reason for choosing Lawrence? “The JCPenney in Crawfordsville, Ind., was closing, and my wife LOVES to shop!”
As far as advice on applying to college and graduate schools, Dean Syverson says, “Go and visit the college… you want to fall in love with the place! [If you don’t] you might get a ‘good education,’ but not a ‘good educational experience.’ Go to a place your heart leads you to.