SAU Buzz

New Dean of Students dives into the SAU experience

by Haley Rhoads
Posted on Sep 13, 2019

His office table is covered in stories collected from years of work. Each one tells a different anecdote as to how universities shape their students. These stories are now used to positively influence the way the St. Ambrose functions as a whole.

Dr. Christopher Waugh is the new SAU dean of students and is using his experience and past stories to guide his time and efforts at SAU. He is motivated by the students and where they are headed, so he can build the scaffolding that will allow them to be successful.

"I meet almost every day with students and listen to their stories," Waugh said. "What is going well, what can be improved and what their motivation is."

Waugh is originally from Neponset, Illinois, where he grew up on a country-side farm. After high school, he headed to Northern Illinois University for a bachelor's degree in English. Waugh became a resident assistant after his junior year, mainly with the intention of getting the monetary benefits.

"Halfway through training, it blew my mind how much care and thought the university put into the student experience," Waugh said.

After being in the position, he was promoted to hall director, which led to even more professional opportunities. Waugh said it was these events that inspired him to work in universities with students.

After numerous job opportunities in the Midwest, Waugh and his family moved to California because he accepted the dean of students position at Pomona College. Later, with the addition of a son to his family, he felt a pull to return to the Midwest.

"I casually looked at positions but was very selective," Waugh said. "The position at Ambrose seemed too good to be true. It was an institution I admired all my life and so close to home."

Growing up, Waugh admired how the university seemed to meet the needs of the students. When coming to the university, the aspect of liberal arts was very important to him.

Waugh said his biggest motivations are the stories that come out of the university experience. Working with students and faculty is a very large part of Waugh's position at Ambrose. Through his work, he is hoping to connect with individuals on a deeper level, he said.

"I am doing a lot of listening and collecting stories to hear what their needs are," Waugh said. "I'm collecting all this data and themes so I can reflect to the community about what I'm hearing and how to help."

Waugh's other major goal is to improve the commuter and graduate student experience. There are extra barriers that can prevent these students from taking advantage of all the Ambrosian opportunities. He will also focus on other concerns, such as social media, community engagement and the change of higher education needs in the country.

In his free time, Waugh spends time with his six-year-old son by playing with Legos or riding scooters. As an English major, he also enjoys reading and writing. Although he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family, Waugh is also looking forward to nesting into his new home in the Quad Cities and becoming a part of the community. 

Waugh started at SAU right before the beginning of the semester and is looking forward to becoming more involved in the university, he said. 

His office is located on the second floor of the Rogalski Center in the Dean of Students/Residence Life Office. Waugh can also be reached at