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Dale Moore

Administrator reinvents role in graduate education 

Dale Moore probably knows more about the nuts-and-bolts of academic policies for graduate education than any other person at the University of South Carolina. Since 1989, Moore has been on staff at The Graduate School, with responsibility at different times for tasks as varied as admissions, recruitment, development, registration, graduation clearance, progress to degree, international recruitment and admissions, and thesis and dissertation submissions.

 “I started here as a G.A. (graduate assistant) for Dean Reeves almost 25 years ago,” says Moore, a South Carolina native and USC alumnus. “I never would have guessed that a part-time position would lead to a satisfying career in graduate education.”

But the challenge and the opportunity to make things better compelled him to stay. 

“I have been privileged to work with many outstanding mentors and colleagues who made the decision to remain at USC an easy one to make, ” he says. “If you make it your business to find answers, and to not confine yourself too squarely to your job description, you’ll discover all manner of things! Over the years the ‘tangents’ I pursued are what have broadened and honed my skill set.” 

Last year Moore was promoted to assistant dean and named The Graduate School’s first ever Graduate Student Ombudsman—an informal, confidential, neutral and unaligned resource for addressing concerns and conflicts.

“In my role as ombudsman I am not an arbiter or a student advocate as such,” says Moore.  “Instead, I am a facilitator. When students come to me with a problem, I help them better understand their problem and what their options are for addressing that problem. Because of my experience as an administrator, I am well-versed in those options. This empowers me to be a more effective ombudsman and a better advocate for fairness.”   

Students who turn to an ombudsman may find the process is more informal, less combative and, at times, much more effective than formal proceedings, where people might feel constrained by policy or unprepared for the unintended consequences of a lengthy formal process.

Still, there are no guarantees that everyone will walk away happy.

“Students come in expecting favorable results. Sometimes I can help them; sometimes they have no desirable options,” says Moore.   

But the times that he can help are what make his job meaningful, he says. 

“It’s been rewarding—a privilege—to work here all these years," he says. "People in higher education want to serve, want to make a difference. At the end of the day, if I can leave feeling as if I made a difference, my efforts have been worthwhile.” 

This article orginally appeared in the July 22, 2013 print edition of USC Times.