Dr. Janna Scarborough’s new office is a quiet, welcoming place for conversations. The cozy, lamp-lit room features the Chinese character for “to listen,” which is one of her top priorities as a former professional school counselor. As newly appointed dean in the interim for Clemmer College, she hopes her background in counseling will give her the tools to listen well to faculty, staff and student voices.
“Of primary importance for me is giving people the opportunity to be heard, to give input, and to make contributions,” explained Scarborough. “We have amazing students, faculty and staff with creative ideas that matter.”
Scarborough became a faculty member at ETSU in 2006 and started out in the classroom teaching students to become counselors. She became founding chair of Counseling and Human Services during this department’s inaugural formation, a time she says will always stand out to her.
“To help the formation of the inaugural Counseling and Human Services department and to have the opportunity to serve programs and faculty and watch them develop, grow, and evolve was a true honor,” she recalled.
After serving as Department Chair for 6 years, she became associate dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs in August 2018. Two weeks ago, she accepted the role as dean in the interim.
She hopes to bring attention to diversity of programming in Clemmer College.
“My vision for us as a college is moving together, forward,” she emphasized. “We already excel in counseling, education, leadership and sport, and my focus will be on highlighting and augmenting the wonderful work we’re already doing and finding new opportunities to benefit our students and community.”
Scarborough hopes her background as a counselor will help her actively listen in her new Dean’s office so that multiple perspectives will be heard and valued in decision making and implementation.
She has advice to share for those who want to learn to be better listeners.
“Active listening means focusing our attention on what is being communicated and conveying our understanding of that message before we interject our own message and viewpoints,” she advised. “Active listeners not only hear but understand what the speaker’s trying to convey. It’s important to reflect that back to make sure I’m understanding before I bring my own perspective and opinion.”
She also pointed out that empathy is key to listening well.
“Trying to understand, honor and affirm the perspective that people bring to the table helps us find common ground and areas of agreement that we can work from and build from,” she explained.
Bringing empathy and good conversation to the Dean’s office is how she plans to contribute to the sense of community at ETSU, which is why she loves working here.
“When I first came to ETSU, what really stood out to me was this community atmosphere,” she remembered. “People were friendly and interacting, and I could pick up the phone and have a conversation. People were, and continue to be, helpful. That resonates with me still today.”
Scarborough knows the impact that education can have, and she looks forward to supporting it in her new role.
“I recently ran into two alumni, who came up and gave me a hug,” she remembered. “I love watching students go through programs and have life changing experiences, then go out into their fields and make an impact through their work. I never get tired of having conversations with them about their work and about experiences they had in class that resonate with them years later.”
She is excited for the new opportunities as dean in the interim, but she also acknowledges that she will miss being in the classroom.
“Each administrative role I’ve accepted over the years has taken me away from the classroom a little more, but in trade, I get to support the overall program a little more,” she explained. “In the dean’s office, I get to support the faculty and staff who are working directly with students and developing their programs. My impact on students is less direct, but my hope is that my impact is broader.”