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New LEAD Center to bring together all aspects of student involvement in MSC

Amanda Larch | News Editor

Amanda Larch | News Editor

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The newly established LEAD Center encompasses all aspects of student involvement and leadership on Marshall University’s campus. The LEAD Center is the result of a collaborative effort to bring together those involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life, volunteer services, campus activities and the Student Government Association, and house them in one cohesive unit. Located in the Memorial Student Center’s lower level, in the old MU ID office and beside the LGBTQ+ office, the LEAD Center offers a place for all students and student leaders on campus.

Matt James, assistant dean of Student Affairs, worked with the vice president for Student Affairs to help create the LEAD Center last semester after researching similar programs at other universities.

“As student affairs admission grows, we wanted to consolidate all of the services on the involvement side of student affairs,” James said. “And so, the division is broken into a development side and an involvement side. The involvement side encompasses student activities, Fraternity and Sorority Life, student organizations, leadership programs and any type of community engagement. We did some research at other schools, and we are utilizing the acronym LEAD; it’s leadership, engagement, activities, development, and that encompasses the four directors’ offices who are housed in the LEAD Center.”

While the LEAD Center is operating during the summer, its official opening will be August 21, with a ribbon cutting and ceremony. Faculty and staff, including James, are in the process of moving and relocating their offices.

“We’ll be working as one unit really to strategically enhance our engagement opportunities for students on campus,” James said. “Instead of having all these offices siloed out, I think all of us working together to achieve the same mission is really going to help with student retention but also with student recruitment. We’re excited to officially launch the LEAD Center on August 21; we’re going to have a grand opening, and we’re going to invite students to come down. But this will be a culture change, getting students to come to the lower level of the Student Center instead of going upstairs. The upstairs is going to be administration and other services provided by student affairs, but any type of involvement initiatives or students wanting to become engaged on campus, we’re going to have them come downstairs and meet with us in the LEAD Center.”

Nick Wright, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said he is most excited about the LEAD Center being a central location for those working in student involvement.

“I started here in January, so I think the thing I’m looking forward to most is going into the fall semester, we’ll be fully staffed,” Wright said. “There won’t be any vacancies and this summer we’ve all been creating a unified vision of how we support students and engage students. The fall semester will be the time we actually get to see our vision, hopes and dreams come to fruition. Everything is centralized. Even before I got here, clubs and organizations were upstairs and volunteer services were on the first floor. We were all scattered throughout the Student Center. I think having a hub where students can go, and they know if they want to get engaged, if they want to do service, if they want to do anything, they just go to the LEAD Center and will be okay.”

Along with directors of Greek life and SGA, Dakota Maddox, recently hired director of student activities and the Campus Activities Board and Will Holland, community outreach and volunteer services director, as well as Andy Hermansdorfer of student organizations, can be found in the LEAD Center. James said having all those involved in student leadership together is the LEAD Center’s main purpose.

“The Greek community has always kind of been isolated,” James said. “They’re here, and everyone else is over there. Our Greek students are leaders on campus, most of them are involved in other student organizations so why do we not simply put everyone in the same house? Because our Greek leaders can help our non-Greek students grow as well as our non-Greek students can help our Greek students grow. We have to operate as one Marshall student community. One of Dr. Gilbert’s initiatives for our students is to get more engaged in the Huntington community. Our Greek students do community service, our student organization leaders do community service, and our student activities component is down there as well. Putting all of those minds together can only create bigger initiatives and initiatives that are going to touch more students and get more students involved.”

Wright said the LEAD Center is open to and accepting of everyone and all students hoping to get involved on campus.

“Anything anyone wants to do on this campus, you just come to the LEAD Center and you’ll be in good hands,” Wright said. “Everyone is welcome to come and get engaged and get involved.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]

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