Lynne Hansen Rules over MA Students with a Firm Hand and a Caring Smile
February 22, 2019
“Good discipline is good counseling, good counseling is good discipline.” This is Lynne Hansen.
As the chatter of close to 90 freshmen filled the lecture hall, Lynne Hansen’s voice pierced the air. This quickly quieted the crowd and for many of us, this was the first time we had interacted with Lynne. Her voice was stern and matter of fact as she outlined the ways and reasons for which we as students could be suspended or expelled. For myself and many other students, the idea of Lynne as a disciplinarian is the sole image in our head. When students see Lynne in the hall, they may even quickly quiet down out of instinct. Lynne even admits that, “there are parts of my job that probably should make people, you know, be really wary of making sure you show up as your best self around me.” Lynne even remarked that her somewhat intimidating stature is a right of passage for young MA students.
Although some may think it is Lynne’s job, as Dean of Students, to hand out the punishment to misbehaving teenagers, she is really no different than many teachers at MA. As heard from Lynne herself, “if someone’s in trouble, what I really want to be able to help them figure out is how they got in that trouble so that when those circumstances present themselves again down the line, they make different decisions in the future.” Lynne is there to support MA students and not tear them down. If no student at MA ever gets in trouble, which is obviously impossible, then Lynne would have done her job perfectly.
Many students do not know that Lynne is a Bay Area kid just like us. She grew up in Tiburon with her sister, Megan, who works at MA as well. Lynne, just like any other sibling, enjoys a good prank and at one point she and her sister convinced members of the MA community that they were the daughters of Bill Walsh. Lynne is not only a loving sister but also an avid sports fan. She developed her love of sports at a young age alongside her father and explains now how she is, “one of those people that’ll just turn on ESPN if there’s nothing else on.” In addition to sports, Lynne is like many other teenagers and loves Harry Potter as she reads the whole series every summer. This small admittance by Lynne quickly reminded me that there is a child present in the most stern of adults.
As we discussed her family I learned her father, originally from Morgantown, West Virginia, was a successful CFO and veteran of the Air Force. Her mother grew up on a farm in Lodi, California. Lynne explained that after serving, her father was able to go to college and then onto Stanford business school, really changing his life. At the same, time her mother grew up on a farm where she had to help her family earn a living. Both her parents were very much self-made and were instilled with the value of hard work and as Lynne described very much had a “no-nonsense” attitude. As demonstrated by her reputation in the freshman and sophomore classes, Lynne’s grounded and very realistic personality can sometimes be slightly off-putting. However, it allows Lynne to fit perfectly into MA’s community. She must command the respect of students, as a slight bit of fear will encourage students to stay in line and follow the principles that MA preaches.
The no-nonsense Dean of Students is how many see Lynne for all four years of their time at MA. Nevertheless, there have been the lucky few who have gotten to know Lynne, as she used to coach the softball team at MA and even taught hum-dev classes. Additionally, many students do not know what Lynne does for us behind the scenes. During our conversation surrounding her role at MA she said, “what’s the most important thing is that I’m out and around campus and that I get to see students doing what they love and doing what they enjoy and having success doing that and witnessing that allows me then to establish some credibility.” The few students who get to experience a connection with Lynne begin to see past the facade that her position and personality create. They can begin to see the mother, who raised a daughter who is now a kindergarten teacher and a son who is working to pursue his passion of being a scuba instructor. When discussing her children she said, “You know what, I have told my kids from day one is do your best, represent yourself well, and be happy.” Lynne treats all of us like her children and wants the best for us, even when handing out tough love.
After writing this piece, I found myself looking at Lynne in a new light. Although I am a senior and have had countless interactions with Lynne, I am not afraid to admit that I still sometimes feel slightly intimidated by Lynne. As soon as I see Lynne turn the corner in the BBLC my head drops down, despite me not having any true worries. I do not know whether some of the habits I developed during my early years at MA will ever fade; I do not know if I can ever not see Lynne in her disciplinarian role. However, I had a revelation during my interview and in many ways, it saddened me. There is so much more to Lynne than what the average freshman sees. The caring mother, the student counselor, and loving daughter will never be seen by the majority of MA students but these aspects of Lynne are what let her be one of the best Dean of Students.