Dean Coker's Teary Farewell Reception


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Photo by Austin Weaver

Goodbyes are never easy, but when someone who’s been in your life for almost ten years moves hundreds of miles away, the sound to form the word ‘goodbye’ are muffled by the choking sobs coming from your very mouth.

These were the goodbyes that were given to Dean of Students, Dr. Bryan Coker on Jan. 30, for his farewell reception in the Kinne Center Banquet Hall.

On Jan. 3, every student on Jacksonville University’s campus received an email with the news that Dean Coker would be leaving his family at JU to become the vice president and dean of students at Goucher College in Baltimore, Md.

For the students, the initial reaction to the news was heartbreaking but at his farewell reception, the heartbreak was ten-fold as the faculty and students in attendance cried and laughed while reflecting on the many memories they have shared with Dean Coker.

For then assistant dean of students Kristie Gover, the tears came pouring out before she could hide them.

“He hired me almost 10 years ago, three months after he started,” Gover said. “It’s bittersweet because this is the job he’s always dreamed of, but he’s family to me so it’ll be hard letting him go.”

Gover continued to say why it will be difficult to replace Coker.

“He cares so much about his work and the students,” Gover said.

Fortunately for the students at JU, the new dean of students is Gover herself, taking on the position just four days after her friend and boss left.

Campus Security Officer, Dalia Fernandez also feels strongly about Coker leaving.

“I’ve only been working here for one year but he has impacted me to do my job better for the students,” Fernandez said. “He is a positive figure and will be missed by all.”

Some students that took his JU 101 class feel the same way.

“I can’t say I know him as well as older students, but he made an impact on me through JU 101,” said freshman, Brittany Bush. “He has taught me things that I will carry on through the rest of my life.”

During the farewell session many speakers stood up to express how they felt about Coker’s departure, but the person everyone was waiting to hear from was Dean Coker himself.

“Not many people can say they love what they do, but I can and that is because of all of you,” Coker said.

“My last words on this campus is to all of you,” Coker continued with tears in his eyes. “Thank you for letting me be a part of your team. Thank you for letting me be your dean. The students have been my energy and passion and you all are part of my family.”

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