Meet the residence deans

Stanford residence deans play an important role in student life on the Farm. Here’s what they want students to know about them.

Living on campus, it’s easy to get to know your resident assistants and fellows. But have you had an opportunity to get to know your residence dean?

An RD can be an important part of a Stanford student’s life and getting to know them can make your college experience easier to navigate. Whether you’re experiencing a roommate conflict, a health crisis or a family issue back home, RDs can direct you to all the options and resources available to help address whatever issue is interfering with your success at Stanford.

Unlike RAs and RFs, residence deans don’t live on campus and can sometimes be less visible figures.  The Roundabout caught up with three of them – Lisa De La Cruz-Caldera, Adrian Perdue and Bianca Ortiz – to learn about their paths to Stanford, what they find rewarding about the job and what they want students to know about them.

Lead Residence Dean Lisa De La Cruz-Caldera

Lisa De La Cruz-Caldera (Image credit: Sean McKibbon-Ray)

Lead residence dean Lisa De La Cruz-Caldera serves several residences: EAST, Murray, Potter, Robinson, Yost and all off-campus housing. She came to Stanford in 2011 and has since worked closely with students to help them overcome personal and academic challenges.

“I get my greatest joy from helping a student understand that they can create and shape their own experience here and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but that it can be their own,” she said.

As the first person from a low-income family to attend college, De La Cruz-Caldera understands the challenges of college life well. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business communications from Holy Names University, she intended to work in the professional sports industry and even interned with the Oakland Raiders. But she decided to pivot toward a career in higher education because of the support she received from her school’s student affairs administrators.

“They made a huge difference for me and worked to remove obstacles that allowed me to focus on my academics and become the person I am today,” she said.

De La Cruz-Caldera received a master’s of education in college student affairs and a doctorate in higher education administration from Azusa Pacific University. She said her role as a residence dean is her calling and allows her to blend her passions for learning and helping others.

“Each day I rise, it is with the intent to learn more about myself and to help support one more student than I did the day before,” De La Cruz-Caldera said.

Although no longer a student, she said she can still relate to the challenges that students today grapple with.

“I’d like students to know that I too struggle with things like self-care, work-life balance, and that I am also a work in progress,” she said, adding that her best advice to her college-age self would be that there is no single, correct way to “do” college. As someone once told her, “Enjoy the journey, not just the destination!”

Outside of Stanford, De La Cruz-Caldera is a mother, a vinyl record enthusiast and a passionate gardener who grows pumpkins each year.

Residence Dean Adrian Perdue

Adrian Perdue (Image credit: Sean McKibbon-Ray)

Adrian Perdue is the RD for Castano, Kimball, Lantana and Ng residences, as well as Branner and Toyon halls. He pursued a career in higher education because of the positive and transformative experience he had in college.

“Working in higher education has been an opportunity to help and guide students through this enriching and challenging time of their lives,” he said.

A first-gen college student, Perdue studied psychology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, before completing graduate work in the College Counseling and Student Development program at Azusa Pacific University. He spent the next five years as a resident director at the University of California, Los Angeles, before coming to Stanford in August.

Perdue said the best part of his job is the deep discussions he has with students. Whether its exploring vocation or the latest Netflix shows, he said he wants students to know that he’s here to talk about anything.

“Sometimes students view RDs as the people you talk to only when you are in a crisis or really challenging situation, ” he said. But an RD plays a much more meaningful role. “I can serve as a touchpoint for students to talk through anything, be it minor or significant, that is impacting their personal wellness or success at Stanford and to work with them to develop solutions and a plan for moving forward.”

In addition to talking about student life at Stanford, Perdue welcomes the opportunity to confer about the characters and mythology of science fiction and fantasy. He’s a movie buff and an avid reader of comics and graphic novels, particularly the X Men series and other superhero stories.

“Marvel Studios has been hitting it out of the park with their movies,” he said. “It’s an amazing time to be a comic book fan.”

Bianca Ortiz portrait

Bianca Ortiz (Image credit: Sean McKibbon-Ray)

Since coming to Stanford in January, Bianca Ortiz has been serving FroSoCo, Adelfa, Meier, Naranja, Norcliffe, Ujamaa and West Lagunita residences, as well as Anderson, Griffin, Jenkins and Marx suites.

Originally from Pico Rivera, California, Ortiz is a first-generation American whose parents are from Mexico and El Salvador. She said being the first person in a low-income family to go to college wasn’t easy, as there was no one close to her who could answer her questions. Despite this, she graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a bachelor’s degree in English and feminist studies.

Ortiz said her college experience was the most important period of her life because it forced her to discover who she is. “It made me question who I am and what I wanted to do. It made me be introspective in a way that I never had to be,” she said.

Ortiz said that the staff at UCSB helped her feel safe enough to explore her identity, something she hopes to do for Stanford students. “It is important to me to think about all the identities that students hold and value, as that impacts the way they navigate Stanford,” she said.

While working as a front desk coordinator in a student residence at UCSB, a residence director encouraged her to pursue work in student affairs. After college, she completed a master’s in education at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, before taking a student affairs position at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Ortiz said the best part of being a dean at Stanford is building relationships with students. She wants them to know that deans can relate to their experiences. “Every single residence dean comes from a place of compassion and empathy,” she said. “No one goes into this type of work without that.”

Ortiz is a regular at Coupa Café, where she enjoys the spicy mocha. Outside of Stanford, she’s busy planning her wedding and enjoys shows like Stranger Things. “I’m a throwback person,” she said. “You can sell me on anything ’80s or ’90s.”