Dean Tuttle: Twenty Years of Service


Photo credit: Ren Rader

illustration by Ren Rader

David Tuttle, Dean of Students, is retiring. Dean Tuttle has served as Trinity’s Dean since 1999. Needless to say, he has had many years of service at Trinity.

Being Dean of Students can not be an easy task, and being a Dean for twenty years even less so. Interestingly, it was a power Dean Tuttle did not initially want. When asked to be Dean, he had a less than enthusiastic reply. “Dean Grissom called me to her office in 1999 and said she was returning to the faculty and was making me the Dean. I said, ‘but I don’t want to be Dean,” said Tuttle.

However, it turned out that he was more prepared for the task than he previously thought.

“I have loved the position. It is a lot of responsibility. It can be very challenging but extremely rewarding,” said Tuttle.

Dean Tuttle put an emphasis on relationships and community. “I have always preached to my colleagues that we need to be mission-centered, student-centered, and not self-centered in our decision-making,” said Tuttle.

Students were able to benefit from these efforts. William Butler, a senior at Trinity, described his Trinity experience. “I’ve found that I’ve been able to find a strong sense of community in whatever I’ve been able to do. I think Dean Tutlle has been involved in that,” said Butler.

One of the more specific successes of Dean Tuttle’s career is his policies around parties and alcohol. “Our alcohol policy is really progressive, including the responsible friend policy, Optimal Buzz, B’Low Optimal program, and Safer Party Initiative,” said Tuttle.

Laura Kelly, a senior at Trinity, praised the party and alcohol policies. “Policies around alcohol awareness have been positive, and the SPIn policy has been relatively positive,” said Kelly.

While Dean Tuttle has done a lot for Trinity students, twenty years is a long time to serve as Dean of anything. “I think some of that [disconnect] is just the role, and some of it is generationally different. Its good for himself and good for students to have new eyes and perspective. There has been a lot of critique of the administration lately, so fresh eyes are positive,” said Kelly.

A fresh set of eyes is especially important right now because of all the discourse and discussion of changes on campus. “Obviously, we’re in a presidential election year. There is obviously a political discourse going on between people on either side of the aisle. Social justice discourse as well,” said Butler.

There are specific changes that students want to see out of this discourse. “New set of eyes is positive on policies of consent and sexual assault, and [a new set of eyes on] racism and policies regarding that. Or just have them reviewed, not policy exactly but implementation of it,” said Kelly.

“His successor should be someone that will bring diversity to campus. Someone that can bring new ideas to the table for students that might not have been spoken up for in the past,” said Butler.

Consistently throughout his work, David Tuttle has tried to portray himself not just as Dean, but as a person. “So my philosophy was to engage in the Trinity community as much as possible, to put my authentic self out there, to be personal, to be involved, visible, and accessible. There is a downside to this, which is that when people need someone to blame for their dissatisfaction, I can often be an easy target. And I take criticism very personally,” said Tuttle.

Trinity students have a similar view of Tuttle’s tenure. “I feel like he’s just human. He’s got his own set of opinions, everyone has human mistakes, and that’s hard when in a position of power. But that’s just how it is,” said Kelly.

By virtue of being his authentic self, Tuttle has his own beliefs and opinions, and the simple truth is that not all of Trinity students’ beliefs and opinions have been in line with Tuttle’s. Some have, and some have not.

One thing is for certain, though. He has dedicated twenty years of his life to the Trinity community, and Butler wishes him well going forward. “I wish him well in retirement, and I hope Trinity chooses a worthy and qualified successor,” said Butler.