Boston College has named Dr. Shawna Cooper-Gibson, the vice president for student services at Seton Hall University, as vice president for student affairs, effective August 9. She will succeed Joy Moore, who stepped down in October to assist her husband in his battle with cancer.
An accomplished student affairs leader with a reputation for building successful student engagement and community development initiatives and collaborative relationships with students, faculty, and parents, Cooper-Gibson brings to Boston College extensive experience leading student outreach efforts at institutions ranging from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Loyola University Chicago.
As vice president for student services at Seton Hall, Cooper-Gibson oversaw all aspects of student affairs, housing and residential life, counselling and health services, student life and community development, and the Academic Resource Center and Career Center at a Catholic university with 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. In her role, she led a division of 140 full-time professionals and 350 student staff committed to student engagement and success, and developed services to promote personal growth, servant leadership, and student satisfaction among Seton Hall’s students.
In particular, Cooper-Gibson partnered with the campus community to design a four-year plan to enhance the undergraduate student experience through academic support, health and wellness initiatives, experiential learning, and spirituality. She also worked with internal and external stakeholders to lead university-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, including developing diversity training modules and a Bias Education and Support Team. In addition, she worked with the Office of the Provost and the senior vice president of enrollment management to improve academic advising for students.
“Shawna stood out as the ideal person to lead Student Affairs at Boston College because of her vast experience in higher education and her commitment to BC’s mission and Jesuit, Catholic heritage. She is a tremendously gifted individual who has earned praise for her efforts and unwavering support of students wherever she has worked.”
Prior to being named vice president at Seton Hall, Cooper-Gibson served as assistant provost for Student Academic Services at Loyola University Chicago, dean of students for the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, director of African American Student Affairs at Northwestern University, and assistant director of student activities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In announcing the appointment, Executive Vice President Michael Lochhead praised Cooper-Gibson as an experienced student affairs leader with a proven record of accomplishment in fostering student engagement and success at both private research and Catholic universities.
"Shawna stood out as the ideal person to lead Student Affairs at Boston College because of her vast experience in higher education and her commitment to BC’s mission and Jesuit, Catholic heritage,” said Lochhead. “She is a tremendously gifted individual who has earned praise for her efforts and unwavering support of students wherever she has worked. I know that the entire BC community will welcome her when she begins her new role as vice president in August.”
Cooper-Gibson said she was excited to come to Boston College to lead Student Affairs and to support the University’s strategic commitment to student formation.
“I have a deep respect for and commitment to Jesuit education based on my 11 years at Loyola University Chicago,” said Cooper-Gibson. “When an opportunity became available to recommit myself to Jesuit, Catholic education at Boston College, I knew I could not pass it up.
“I am excited to contribute to the University’s Strategic Plan, to enhance the overall student experience, and to build an equitable experience for all BC students. The important work of Student Affairs is not done alone. I look forward to partnering with Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, with Haub Vice President for University Mission & Ministry Jack Butler, S.J., and with BC faculty and administrators across the University to create not just best practices, but next practices so that we can prepare our students to go into the world to become global leaders.”
“When an opportunity became available to recommit myself to Jesuit, Catholic education at Boston College, I knew I could not pass it up . . . I am excited to contribute to the University’s Strategic Plan, to enhance the overall student experience, and to build an equitable experience for all BC students. ”
Cooper-Gibson received a doctorate in education and human development from Boston University, and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies: curriculum and instruction at National Louis University in Wheeling, IL. She earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from the University of Illinois.
She is an active member of the National Academic Advising Association, NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, and the American College Personnel Association at the National Center for Higher Education.
Highly respected within the student affairs profession, she was awarded the prestigious Sankofa Award in 2021, given annually by NASPA to an African American senior student affairs officer, and was inducted into the Jesuit honor society Alpha Sigma Nu in 2018.
A native of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Cooper-Gibson is married to Derrick Whitehead, and is the mother of Harrington Gibson III, a rising junior at Loyola University Chicago. An avid runner, Cooper-Gibson, has completed the New York, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo, and London marathons, and plans to run the Boston Marathon in the future.
“I am really looking forward to coming back to Boston after 15 years and joining the leadership team at Boston College,” said Cooper-Gibson. “BC is a mission-driven institution with strong leadership and values and a clear vision. I am elated to have the opportunity to lead Student Affairs at Boston College.”
Jack Dunn | University Communications | June 2021