The Donald D. Gehring Academy—the most respected and trusted conduct officer training in the country—has selected Greg Meyer, associate dean of students for Moravian College, to be the track coordinator for its Foundations of Professional Practice Track at this year’s academy, to be held virtually from July 19–23, 2021. Meyer describes the academy, which comes under the auspices of the Association for Student Conduct Administration, as “bootcamp for student conduct officers.” Last year, Meyer served on the faculty and taught three sessions. This year, as track coordinator, he will help faculty prepare for their sessions, reviewing their material, and he will coordinate the schedule for the week. “I will also deliver my own session and might present in other tracks as well,” he says.
Meyer never imagined he would step onto a career path leading from student conduct to his current role at Moravian, which encompasses multiple facets of student behavior. As an undergrad at Lehigh University, he studied music composition. “I wanted to be a music teacher but realized I wasn’t that good,” he confesses. Next, he flirted with book publishing, getting internships at Warner Brothers in New York City, but when working with the children’s book department and discovering that profit-potential mattered more than the moral and educational value of the books the publisher acquired, Meyer abandoned that route and searched for another.
“I had been an RA for four years during college, so I took a position as a hall director at James Madison University,” he says. At the same time, he began pursuing a master’s in higher education. “Student conduct didn’t appeal to me, but there was a program that would sanction students to a mentor, and I became one.” Meyer found the experience meaningful and compelling, and when a position opened up in the student conduct office to oversee the mentoring program, he jumped at the opportunity.
“At the start, I had to become a conduct officer, and I learned that it was very different from what I imagined,” he says. “It’s not about punishing people; it’s about taking someone at their worst moment and helping them see the good and the path forward. I fell in love with it.”
In his role at Moravian, Meyer occupies the center of student behavior. “The scope of my work revolves around behavior in general and intervenes at those points when a student may not be able to be successful because of their circumstances,” says Meyer. These incidents include anything from a suicide attempt to a student struggling academically because they can’t afford to buy textbooks.
“…it’s about taking someone at their worst moment and helping them see the good and the path forward. I fell in love with it.”
From Meyer’s central position, he works with several groups at the college. He is the chair of the Moravian College Student Help and Referral (SHARE) team, which meets regularly to address concerns about students that are shared by members of the college community and to identify the best ways to support those students. He collaborates with the Bias Response and Intervention Team (BRIT) in addressing incidents of bigotry, discrimination, or harassment committed to members of the campus community or by members of our community. With the crisis management team, Meyer is on call as a backup to whomever from the team is available to campus police when an emergency occurs. When a student is in immediate need of money to support academic success—for textbooks, for example—Meyer taps the Mo’s Cupboard fund. And day after day, he answers the demand of staying current with relevant law. “I read court cases all the time,” Meyer says. “You have to know when it is time to consult legal counsel.”
It’s a huge job and one that can be mentally and emotionally taxing, but Meyer loves it. He likes that it challenges preconceived notions. “People assume that meeting with me will be a negative experience,” he says. “But the reality is they come in, and we get to know each other, and my approach is yeah, you did something, but what are we going to do next? How are we going to move forward?”
Meyer regularly faces angry parents, but by the end of a conversation, though they may not get what they initially wanted, they reach a place where they understand why the situation is what it is. “I like seeing that progression from angry to appreciating what you’ve done.”
For all the good and fulfillment that derives from Meyer’s work, still there must be situations that are painful to observe. “Yes, but while you don’t become uncaring, you become comfortable with that content. Sure, there are some cases over which I’m going to go home and cry, but this is life. People don’t need sympathy, they need you to listen and to hold space; that’s what we train to do—hold space without breaking down.”
Meyer knows how to hold space. And, he knows how to excel at the many responsibilities of his role at Moravian College. That’s why it comes as no surprise to Nicole Loyd, vice president for student life and dean of students, that Meyer was tapped to be track coordinator at this year’s Gehring Academy.
“Greg is simply one of the best,” says Loyd. “He definitely knows law…and his genuinely unbiased and steady personality, and deep, deep care and concern for our students and community is truly unique.”