SIL welcomes new director
39″ alt=”Allison Dunn, the new Director for the Student Involvement and Leadership department. ” src=”http://www.wsusignpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/20130107allison-dunn-of-course-raychel-johnson-300×240.jpg” width=”300″ height=”240″ /> Allison Dunn, the new Director for the Student Involvement and Leadership department.
The Student Involvement and Leadership Office is seeing some changes and a fresh new face from Virginia Tech. Allison Dunn is now officially the student involvement and leadership director. Dunn, who worked at VT for more than six years, is originally from Texas, and arrived to Weber State University on Saturday. She began work on Monday and said that, even though it’s cold, she is excited to be a part of the WSU Student Association.
“It was the next step in my career,” Dunn said. “The center is everything that I am passionate about: service, leadership, governance, student development, broadening horizons, diversity, all that stuff. It’s part of what I do; that’s the passion. (That’s) why I got into student affairs in the first place.”
Although Dunn is new to the position and to WSU, she said her goals for spring semester include an initiative to put student learning first.
“That’s going to be my big focus . . . really seeing how can we take and do the practical application of what students are learning in the classroom,” Dunn said, “and in an environment where the students really have the opportunity to try new things and have ownership and say, ‘Yeah, I really did that, designed that.’”
Dunn said she wants to impact more students by making their education outside of the classroom as impressionable as inside class.
“. . . Then, how can we use that co-curricular experience as a learning laboratory for them to practice what they are learning in the classroom?” she said.
Duties for the SIL director include supervision of the staff, visioning of the department and watching the budget. Since Dunn is new, she said she isn’t going to make a lot of changes immediately.
“I’m not a big believer in just coming in and turning everything upside down, and so changes will come in time,” Dunn said. “Right now, it’s just a lot of asking questions, seeing how things work, learning the Weber way and figuring out a direction.”
The director will advise the president of the student senate, but doesn’t advise the senate. That job is up to Aaron Newman, whose new position in SIL is director of leadership education and associate director for SIL.
Newman, who is no stranger to SIL, previously served as adviser of the student senate. His old position is similar to his new one, which has a stronger emphasis on leadership development. According to Newman, he is allotted more time to create a plan on where to take student leadership not just at the individual level, but as an entire school.
“Part of that is working on creating some new leadership classes and curriculum and really trying to move forward with a leadership certificate program,” Newman said.
He said a program like this was started a few years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere. Now, Newman plans to make leadership classes a priority once again. The StrengthsQuest initiative also falls under Newman’s position. He said he hopes a new program will be ready by fall semester.
Different universities across the nation have specific centers dedicated just to leadership. Newman said he plans on visiting such schools in the state and region to model WSU’s center after theirs. Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University are two of these schools.
“There’s so much more to leadership; it doesn’t fit a one-size-fits-all type thing. There are all types of different aspects,” Newman said. “There’s a multitude of theories out there on leadership. People just need to find the one that resonates and makes sense for them.”
Along with hopes of a new leadership center, SIL is also planning and in the early developing stages of a new space for student senate, as well as the fraternity and sorority students. This new space will include offices and storage for students and won’t be utilized by faculty and staff.