It is very rare to come across a person with such a firm grasp on life as Elsje Van Munster, the new associate dean of students for orientation and first-year programs.
Van Munster's office is nestled in the Center for Community on the top floor of the College Union. Her door is open and her office is inviting, complete with a comfy couch and pictures sprinkled over her desk.
Even though she admits she is still settling into the position, Van Munster seems to be enjoying her time so far. After shadowing the former Dean of First-Year Programs Barbara Stewart, she felt comfortable enough to take over the position.
One of the most important aspects of Van Munster's life is her past. She was born in Holland and lived there for 20 years. Although Van Munster barely has an accent, upon talking with her, the passion and nostalgia she has for her childhood in Europe become apparent.
Before moving to the United States, Van Munster lived in Cambridge, England for a year, where she met her husband and fellow Geneseo faculty member, Eugene Stelzig. When they finally settled in New York, Van Munster immediately sought an education.
Even though this is her first semester in the Center For Community, Van Munster is no stranger to Geneseo. She spent her undergraduate years here, and then came back to teach in the philosophy department. She mostly taught political science and pre-law courses, but taught an INTD 105 class as well.
Van Munster attended Buffalo Law School and before coming back to Geneseo, worked in a variety of fields of law and eventually opened her own practice where she mainly worked with mediation between couples.
While Van Munster enjoyed the benefits of having her own practice, it grew isolating because she didn't have much contact with people. In addition, Van Munster said she grew tired of the taxing nature of matrimonial cases. This eventually led her back to Geneseo; she loves interacting with people and her job enables her to be social constantly.
Not only does she keep busy in Geneseo, but Van Munster is also the town justice of her hometown, Groveland, where she's lived for about 15 years. She loves interacting with the residents of the town and being a cheerful presence, much like her position on campus.
In her free time, Van Munster loves to keep active and be outside. Skiing and playing tennis are among her favorite hobbies, but what she loves most is to spend time with animals.
Even though Van Munster doesn't have any children, she finds ultimate companionship with her pet and best buddy, Robbie, a Weimaraner. They often go for long walks in the woods together. She even took her love for animals a step further when she taught INTD 105 "The Human-Animal Connection" for six years.
"My love of animals is what defines me more than almost anything else," Van Munster said.
Van Munster loves living on the East Coast. Not only does she love the country life in western New York, but she also loves the city of Boston for its rich culture. She also prefers living on the East Coast because it's closer to Holland, making it easier for her to visit home.
It is certain that we will see Dean Van Munster's cheerful smile around campus all year and in years to come, and her enthusiasm will enable first year students to have a successful and easy transition into Geneseo.