Dan Chapman answers a lot of phone calls these days. They come in from parents and caregivers concerned about their student’s wellbeing during an ongoing pandemic that’s fatigued just about everyone.
Chapman, Endicott’s director of student transitions and family programs, calls himself “a liaison between a stressed-out parent and an office on campus that can help their student.” It’s a new role for the College, and Chapman is loving it.
“I think it makes a huge difference when a parent gets off the phone and they know I’m going to work with their student, whether it’s meeting them in my office or walking them over to counseling,” he said. “I love that one-on-one interaction, I love communication, and I love building relationships that way. I want people to feel better after talking to me.”
Growing up, Chapman faced his own set of challenges that helped him become resilient, empathetic, and nimbler at forming relationships as a young man. In this new role, it’s that personal history of adversity that helps him authentically relate to Endicott students.
Born in upstate New York, Chapman underwent open heart surgery when he was just three months old before surviving childhood leukemia.
“When you grow up with so many medical challenges and you’re constantly having to describe how you’re feeling, you get pretty good at it,” he said. “I appreciate that I can talk about how I feel, and because I always had to describe to adults and doctors how I was feeling, I think that formed my personality to be a communicator.”
Chapman was also the consummate new kid, enduring a string of childhood moves to Missouri and Ohio before landing in New England.
“You have two options as a new kid. You can either be quiet and scope out what the deal is, or you can talk to people and learn about the culture,” he said.
That cultural element is what has long excited Chapman, spurring him to study anthropology at Northeastern University, where he excelled on the lacrosse field but struggled at times academically.
“Academic advisors were the ones who pulled me out and made me realize that I could get to a point where I could love to learn. It gives me chills just talking about that,” he said.
At Northeastern, Chapman studied abroad in Ireland, spending six months each in Dublin and in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where a mid-90s ceasefire made it possible. When he returned to Boston, he wrote his thesis on lacrosse as a Native American sport and the oldest sport in North America, then pursued a master’s degree in college student development and counseling.
“The reason I like working in academic settings now is because I know how important it was for me to seek out resources,” he said.
Chapman’s career in higher ed spans from MIT—where he was assistant director of new student orientation, advising and mentoring students for more than a decade—to the recently shuttered Becker College in Worcester, Mass., where he coordinated study abroad experiences and served as associate director for the Center for Career Education and Advising.
Here at Endicott, Chapman is working on growing the first- and second-year student experience, helping ease the transition by leveraging the College’s cultural, spiritual, and wellness programs as well as orientation, which is overseen by Associate Director of Student Transitions and Family Programs Molly Buckley.
“She’s incredible at what she does,” said Chapman. “I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have the skills that I certainly don’t.”
He’s also at work on an enhanced parent newsletter and hopes to facilitate more events between parents and various campus figures during orientation and homecoming while continuing to connect with students.
When he’s not at Endicott, Chapman can be found Ubering his 16-year-old twin daughters around (they just got their permits), cycling, traveling, and binging Ozark and Yellowjackets.
“Endicott’s learn by doing model and is exactly what Northeastern was like, so I feel really comfortable with the work ethic of the students here,” Chapman reflected. “And I feel like I probably would’ve enjoyed myself quite a bit in every sense had I attended Endicott. It’s the type of student I relate to.”