Dean of Students proves more than a hand to shake at graduation


Steven Pinkenburg attended St. Edward’s in the 1990’s and now serves as the Dean of Students.

Similar to the manner in which Gatsby stared out at the green light, Dean of Students Steven Pinkenburg perched himself on the steps leading up to the red doors at St. Edward’s University.

Throughout Pinkenburg’s time here in the 1990’s, he gazed out to Austin and felt aimless about his life after graduation, with the exception of one detail: he wanted to work in the blue lighted building of the Austin skyline, though he had no idea what field of work the company in that building did.

Today, Pinkenburg is the Dean of Students, officially named to the position in February 2016, after serving as interim dean after Lisa Kirkpatrick was promoted to vice president for Student Affairs. Almost 20 years ago, while Kirkpatrick was overlooking a conduct case, Pinkenburg recalls telling her that he would hate to do that and that it would be the worst job ever.

“I just remember thinking how much I’d hate to potentially confront people and make them mad or angry,” Pinkenburg said.

While considerably less aimless now than in his youth, Pinkenburg still does not live a structured manner of planning out the specifics of the next five to 10 years, rather he does as he pleases with his time. Currently, he is looking into doctoral programs in education, psychology or perhaps law school.

“I deal with the question marks in life, they excite me, whereas other people, question marks can kind of scare the heck out of them,” Pinkenburg said.

As a student at St. Edward’s, Pinkenburg created many notable memories, including unconventional campus-wide games of hide and go seek on roller blades. Also the time he was asked to resign from a position as community advisor after participating in a game of quarters.

Years later, this campus now calls him to act as Title IX deputy coordinator and enforce the Student Handbook.

Since the idea of visiting his office may seem daunting to some, it is easy for students to imagine Pinkenburg as a one-dimensional member of the St. Edward’s community, whose hand they will shake moments after receiving their diploma.

However, Pinkenburg enthusiastically interacts with students when granted the opportunity, whether it is meeting with a member of the student government to discuss the student handbook, playing intramurals on campus or sending a condolence email that also reminds students to remain cautious and safe in the aftermath of University of Texas at Austin student Haruka Weiser’s death.

Longtime friend Lou Serna recalled their college years when Steven created teams to play Sega video games. “He likes to do those fun, silly things that other people would never take the time to do.”

Pinkenburg’s border collie, Winston, is spoiled with the treatment that goes along with having an owner such as him. “Basically I’ll tell him [Winston] to ‘wait…stay, stay’ and he’ll just sit there and look at me. Then, I’ll hide somewhere in the house and I’ll clap, and he’ll go running through the house to find me, it’s just the funnest thing in the world,” Pinkenburg said.

Guided by a keen interest in psychology, the subject he almost majored in during college, Pinkenburg holds the Myers-Briggs personality test close to his heart. Based on the test, he said he identifies as an extrovert since he garners energy from being around other people.

With work awaiting him, there is not always time to interact with others though. 

 So, Pinkenburg sits in his desk and gazes at a whiteboard laden with various phrases that were previously scrawled in vibrant expo markers. Terms such as “student welfare” and “transitions spreadsheet” indicate a seemingly infinite amount of tasks at hand. The board also contains less pressing items on it such as the phrase “happy birthday to me,” which a student had written during a much welcomed visit to remind Pinkenburg of the fact. 

Pinkenburg reaches to erase it to make room on the board to deal with the crucial question marks of his life.