Meet Daveon Swan, newly appointed Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs
November 30, 2023
For Daveon Swan, the University of Southern California is a place of homecoming.
Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, he attended the neighborhood’s Budlong Avenue Elementary School. In memories of his childhood, Swan recalls visiting Bovard Auditorium, where he would immerse himself in collegiate theater. In his recollections, Swan even conjures up a tree lot way down the street, where his family would often gather during Christmas time.
Years later, at his alma mater Loyola Marymount University, Swan pledged a historically black fraternity with a citywide chapter. Little did he know that — in the following months — he would find his way back to USC, choreographing and teaching step routines to his fraternity brothers.
Today, in what seems like a lifetime later, as Swan settles into the role of Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs, finding a home within the walls of this campus feels all too familiar. As we welcomed him into the USC Kaufman family, we sat down for a conversation about all things old and new.
What drew you to the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance?
It was a multitude of things. As a scholar and artist myself, I believe it is necessary to curate spaces where academics and artistry come together. I sing, act and write music. Coming here and seeing these vibrantly talented individuals — who are artists, athletes and scholars altogether — at a prestigious R1 institution is very inspiring to me.
What is your vision for the school? What do you hope to achieve in Year One?
My vision is to create safe spaces where students are empowered to be the best, most authentic versions of themselves. I want them to utilize their academics and artistry to create community impact, building each other up in the world around them.
What are your personal goals? How do you think we as a student body, faculty, and staff can help you attain them?
Someone once asked me what I do for a living, to which I responded, “I am a superhero coach.”
Each part of my career has been spent helping people build the skills they need to become who they want to be — professionally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. My goal is to be a resource to students and accompany them on their lifelong journeys.
I am a first-generation college student myself. So, I want to be the one that goes back and grabs those who feel like they’re slowing down. I hope to be the person that pushes them across the finish line when they think that they cannot make it across. As such, the way that you all can help me is to take the time to share who you are, along with your aspirations and goals, with me. We can build rapport and community with one another, which better allows for me to be a resource, an avenue and a catalyst. I want to be that push for you.
For students who might not know, what is your role? In other words, how can you help push them past that finish line?
My role as the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs encompasses every aspect of the student experience. This includes helping students select classes, consider a minor/concentration or even connect them with campus clubs and organizations. This may also manifest itself by way of relaying them to our partners at the USC Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, finding faith expressions that motivate them to create and inspire.
The student experience is diverse because we have people from different walks of life, worldviews, values and belief systems. A huge part of creating great student experiences is getting to know them holistically. My role is to nurture students and make sure they know how to find wellness resources that help navigate issues of difficulty, assist them in finding social and emotional tools in order to become the strongest contributing member of their community.
What do you think is the most pressing challenge that we are currently facing as a school?
I would say interpreting passion. For me, interpreting passion brings up the image of the yin and the yang. It is all one energy but different polarities. Kaufman is a place that houses people with so many deeply meaningful passions. However, when such profound passions interact, it is necessary for someone to help interpret how they can walk alongside each other. That is one of the goals that I hope to be working towards.
What is your definition, interpretation or understanding of The New Movement?
The New Movement builds on foundational, fundamental things that make Kaufman such a prestigious place for dance and academics. Then, pivoting in a way that helps us be innovators, becoming the voice that pushes limits and expands boundaries.
Do you have a philosophy, either personal or borrowed, that you would like to impart to the Kaufman community?
I believe it was Gandhi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” From a personal standpoint, I firmly believe that you should be the first partaker in your cure for the world. If there is a change that you want to see, exemplify it. Be a resource and a support system for others and for yourself.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Kaufman family?
I am super excited to be here! Every time I step into a class space or peek through a studio window, I am amazed at the movement that you all are producing. I am awestruck by how you are supporting one another and how the faculty is teaching you such great things. It is like magic here. They say that Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth. They’re not wrong; they just haven’t been to Kaufman yet.
By Arjun Kochhar (BFA ’25)