STORY ADAM ROGAN
Sentwali Bakari has been Drake University’s Dean of Students for the past 11 years, and no two days have ever been the same.
“I’m one of those people… who drops what they’re doing if the phone rings (when) there’s an issue,” Bakari said. “I’m also the guy that’s on call all the time …. If something goes on at two o’clock in the morning, it’s an urgent matter, I get a call.”
When these issues do not arise his work can be much more peaceful.
“The first thing I do when I come in the morning (is) grab a cup of coffee and I begin to start checking email,” of which he has a lot he said. “My day consists of a lot of meetings. I attend the Dean’s meeting weekly, the Provost council meeting and far too many others to name.”
However, Bakari’s job entails more than just meetings with administrators and students.
“One of my major responsibilities includes crisis management and addressing student crises and student issues and students matters,” he said. “Sometimes those are enjoyable and then sometimes they’re not that pleasant. But we have to address those issues to try to extend support to students and their families in that kind of way.”
One of the least favorite parts of his job is when students find that Drake is not the right fit for them and they have to leave the university.
However, not all of Bakari’s job is stressful.
Bakari plays in the NBA, the Noon Basketball League, here at Drake.
“I’ve played Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the last 11 years, playing hoops,” Bakari said. “And that’s probably the most enjoyable part of the day… playing with staff and students and faculty.”
Basketball has played a major role in his life.
“I’ve just played all my life. It’s just something I’ve always done, but I can tell the wear and tear, but I’m still capable of scoring 50,” he said, laughing.
He enjoys the causality of the games.
“It’s not some meeting … it’s pretty much goin’ over there and hoopin’ .… There’s no titles on the court. There’s no ‘doctor’ or ‘professor.’”
On top of that, Bakari finds enjoyment in other ways, not purely in athletics.
“I love going to jazz concerts. I love jazz concerts, especially in the summer, outdoor jazz concerts, love it,” he said. “Love the outdoors, even though I’m not a climb the mountain guy.’”
But still, he continues to find more to love at Drake.
“Being here at Drake has afforded me some amazing opportunities, and I’ve seen some amazing students graduate from Drake and go on to do some awesome stuff. So it’s nice being a part of it,” he said.
He loves going on international trips through Drake, he said, highlighting three trips he took to Egypt and Turkey with students and Prof. Mahmoud Hamad.
“Those are some of the most amazing experiences, when you travel with students outside of the country, get to see them in a little different setting and you see how they grow in a short time,” he said.
Some people wonder how he handles his purportedly difficult job, and Bakari understands why.
“I guess that could be considered stressful, (but) that’s what I do and I haven’t categorized it as stressful,” he said. “It’s just what I do.”
He gets by, not just on how much he enjoys his job, but also getting away from it sometimes.
“You have to recharge the battery and you have to … (find) work balance,” he said. “In order to have some effectiveness, you gotta get away from this place. You gotta get away, be with friends, be with family, do other things outside of Drake to recharge your energy and your battery.”
When asked if he considered pursuing the soon to be vacant President position he quickly responded, “Oh God no.” He likes his job and does not see why he should try to change it.
“It’s a great job,” he said.