July 26, 2019

Jeffrey Kessler, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, Takes a Bow After 21 Years of Service to Adelphi’s Students

by Nii Akrofi Smart-Abbey, M.F.A. ’20 (anticipated)


Forty years ago, Jeffrey Kessler, assistant vice president and dean of student affairs at Adelphi University, decided to turn his passion for working with students into a career.

“I was an orientation leader (in college) about 44 years ago, but I didn’t realize then that this was something one could make a career out of,” Kessler said.

After a stint as a Peace Corps trainee in central Africa, he returned to the United States, subsequently enrolled in a graduate program and, in 1980, got his first job as director of student activities at Wesley College in Delaware. For the next four decades, Kessler worked in various capacities with students at four higher educational institutions; the last 21 of those years have been at Adelphi.

Now, 39 years on, he is ready to retire.

Kessler said a lot has changed in the decades since he began his career, including the competitive college landscape, how we communicate and the students themselves. In the past, students might express their opinions by writing them on bathroom walls, for instance, while today they post them on social media. What hasn’t changed is the role of a university to develop students.

“We want students to learn how to be responsible and respectful,” he said, and that students come to college for a transformational experience. “When students come back after they’ve graduated and talk about their time and the influence you had on them, that’s the most gratifying. That’s the reason you get into this kind of work. I’m thankful to have been a part of students’ lives here.”

The other aspect of his job Kessler will miss the most is “working with great colleagues.” “It’s been a privilege to have worked at this University and to have had such a fulfilling work life,” he said, adding that “after working for nearly 40 years, the time is right for me to move on.”

After retiring, he’s off to spend two weeks in Madagascar and two weeks in South Africa with his wife, Susan, herself a senior adjunct faculty member at Adelphi. “I’m looking to travel more, volunteer my time more and, in general, be open to serendipity,” said Kessler. “I’m looking forward to having more time to myself, to seize upon opportunities big or small, to just do things that are of interest to me.”

Kessler’s last day at Adelphi is August 9. “It’s been a privilege to have worked at this University. It’s been a real blessing to have had such a fulfilling work life, because not everyone has that opportunity or experiences joy in what they do. I will certainly miss my work, Adelphi and the people with whom I spent so many years.”


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About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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