Asst. dean denies stereotypes

Projects overflowing on a cluttered desk, photos displayed on every surface and a plethora of stress relievers make up the office of the assistant dean of campus life and dean of the class of 2007.James Parker, 32, was born in Oklahoma City and earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication in 1998 and a master’s degree in education in 2002 from the University of Oklahoma.

For 24 years, Parker did not miss a single Sooner home football game, but, for the past six years, he has found a new home as a Horned Frog.

His job title changes daily. He supervises Worth Hills housing, works extensively with the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils, manages student concerns and enforces discipline. The main goal for Parker he said is to teach students to become better people and better leaders.

Susan Adams, associate vice chancellor of campus life, describes him as committed and caring.

“He establishes relationships with students and families,” Adams said. “He sincerely wants to help because he wants students to be successful.”

But Parker said he still thinks there is work to be done. He wants people to reach out and get to know him, because he would like more positive interactions with students.

“Ninety-five percent of Greek students don’t like me, but they have never had a conversation with me,” Parker said. “Fighting through those stereotypes is a daily challenge.”

There are Greek students that do reach out to him, though, and their perception is drastically different than what he may believe.

“I think at first a lot of people misunderstand his motives and what he’s about,” said Rachel Knapp, Panhellenic recruitment director. “But, when you work with him on a personal level, you realize that he really does have your best interest at heart.”

Parker said graduation is the most anticipated event on his calendar because he cannot wait to see the incredible people he met at Frog Camp four years ago cross the stage into adulthood.

“I went to every orientation and almost every Frog Camp,” Parker said. “I stay in regular contact with students. Watching them grow and mature from 18 to 22 or 23 is phenomenal.”

The students are not the only people who have changed in his time at TCU. Parker said five years ago his career was his No. 1 priority, and now it would barely make his top five. He said his goal is to wake up tomorrow and enjoy the life he has, and not to worry so much about tomorrow that he forgets to enjoy today.

As for the future, Parker would like to develop an alumni networking program for students, see a more diverse campus develop and some of the stereotypes and separation of socioeconomic classes diminish.

Until then, he fulfills his role at TCU living by the Conway Twitty song that reminds him of what his father taught him about work ethic and responsibility.

“That’s my job,” Parker said. “That’s my job.