After more than two decades entrenched in GW student affairs, former Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski sat in a new desk Wednesday nearly 400 miles from the District.
After wrapping up a course on human services and saying goodbye to colleagues in the fall, Konwerski moved to Troy, N.Y. two weeks ago and this week took over as the vice president for student life at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Since he arrived in New York, Konwerski said he has been spending time connecting with students in person and on social media and meeting with student leaders from fraternities, sororities and the student government.
“That’s always been a priority for me – to work side by side with students, to learn what their needs are and then to help them achieve their visions and dreams and aspirations,” he said.
Konwerski launched a new Twitter handle, @RPIPeterK, this week, a switch from the @GWPeterK Twitter handle he was known for during his tenure at the University. But his GW handle hasn’t completely gone dry since his change in positions – the former dean of student affairs has still used his GW account to repost higher education articles.
He announced his resignation in November 2017 but has stayed at the University for the past two semesters to teach classes. In the interim, the University announced an overhaul of its student affairs and enrollment divisions and installed Cissy Petty as the inaugural dean of the student experience in July.
While RPI is located in a suburb – rather than a city like GW – Konwerski said he was attracted to the school because he could aid students who are “pioneers” in the sciences and engineering instead of liberal arts. As the oldest polytechnic institute in the country, RPI is home to “vibrant” students who want to enter the workforce immediately after graduating, Konwerski said.
“They’re innovators and explorers and discoverers as young people, so it’s exciting to be around them,” he said.
He added that he now lives closer to his family in Connecticut and has spent time visiting relatives and hiking with his dogs in the two weeks since he moved upstate.
Konwerski said that while he has not considered moving back to GW later in life, “you can never tell what the future will bring.” He said he wants to focus on meeting students and prioritizing his current position before he turns back to GW’s campus.
“GW will always be close to my heart because of the place it played in my own job, trajectory and undergraduate and graduate degree,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule anything out but right now, my primary focus is making sure that I’m an effective administrator and advocate for the student experience at RPI.”