Student Affairs launches leadership series for its staff


In June, 21 staff members throughout the Division of Student Affairs completed the first-ever Emerging Leaders Series — a four-session professional development program. Participating members engaged in interactive, scenario-related topics that were curated to help Student Affairs staff grow their leadership skills.

"The program allows us to provide staff with the opportunity to gain additional knowledge and insights into the workings of the division and the university," said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Eric Weldy.

"We are being proactive in helping staff build confidence in their ability to lead with integrity, while excelling at the highest level. It also sends a strong message that we care about their professional development and their overall success."

Throughout the series, participants unpacked the history of higher education, navigated the organizational dynamics of colleges and universities and learned how to lead through conflict when supervising a team.

In the final session, cohort members were asked to use the skills they learned throughout the series and present a proposal about a new service, opportunity or initiative that should be offered in their department. All sessions were developed and led by Student Affairs leaders Mike Perry, Ellise Smith, Chandra Kohler and Sydney Lease.

The impetus for the Emerging Leaders Series

One pillar of the division’s new strategic plan wholly focuses on staff development and support, with one goal focused on providing the support and resources so that all staff can benefit from professional development opportunities.

This series was created to make progress toward that goal and support staff in growing their skillsets.The topics explored in this year's series were developed through the review of staff engagement surveys, program review exercises and staff evaluations. 

"It’s important that we set aside resources and time to continue building the skills and knowledge of current staff within the division," said series leader Mike Perry, director of Housing and Residence Life. "This results in employees feeling more invested and helps them gain a better understanding of how to get work done — which ultimately improves the services we provide to students."

Series takeaways 

Participant Ryan Anderson felt he came away with a deeper understanding of the organizational politics within Student Affairs as a whole and related to the university, and helpful supervision techniques that he’s already begun implementing with his team.

Anderson is also excited to see that aspects of his proposal — expanding nutrition education for students — are moving forward within Health and Wellness Promotion.

"As an emerging leader, the program gave me a larger picture of higher education, that mid-level professionals don’t always talk about. I plan to use what I learned within the series to guide my professional actions moving forward," Anderson said.

2024 Student Affairs Emerging Leaders Series participants

Heidi Adams

Ryan Anderson

Hanna Brown

Bernard Caillouet

Lorri Ferguson

Rodney Hadley

Taylor Harris

Tina Hill

Courtney Hittepole

Simone Kendrick

David Knapp

Stu Macki

Karen McAbee

Lexa Muehlbauer

Nathan Mugg

Josh Rojas

Maria Sanchez Castro

Yolanda Snowden

Brittany Snyder

Megan Watson

Danielle Wolfe