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Leading in Uncertain Times

If someone had asked me weeks ago what I thought I would be doing at 5 pm on a Sunday in mid September, I might have answered “reading case law or student development,” or at best, watching some football and preparing for the week ahead.  One thing is for sure, I would never have guessed I would be sitting down to the first meeting with a my new RA staff processing the recent departure of a staff member and affirming my support and focus on providing stability over the coming weeks.

At best, the group has been flying through turbulence over the last few weeks.  With often supplementary support by the department, the recent announcement of medical leave by their full-time staff member meant it was time for contingency plans to be brought to action.

Given my role working with a full-time staff member in a Living-Learning Community of about 670 and supervising a staff of 11 RAs coupled with my prior experience running a building of 280 while supervising 4 staff members (and hiring an additional 4 to begin this academic year), meant I was the Department’s logical choice.

As I heard of the possibility of this temporary assignment, I scrambled through the logistics, asking myself questions like ‘what kind of situation am I walking into?,”how do I structure some stability?,’ and ‘What do I need to make this work?’ I began thinking about the students whom I’d already connected with in my current building– the relationships built and promises made for follow up on goals they’d set in our first one on ones and the recognition, report and engagement I had built with residents, staff members, and our academic partners.

But not long after, it became abundantly clear what was most important, and was later confirmed as described in the priorities laid out at the time of my assignment: provide stability, support, and resources.

I don’t know how long I will be their supervisor, in what capacity, or even the impact that may take place for either of us over the next several weeks, but above all else, it’s clear that they need someone to step in and make meaning with them.

So as I settle into a new office and prepare for what is certain to be a ride that I won’t soon forget, all I can hope is that I can provide them direction, perspective, and support as we consider the options and impact ahead and work to display a consistent, supportive, healthy, and safe environment for our residents.

As the realization that I will no longer work as closely with my supervisor and original student staff on academic projects and programs, becomes clearer, I recognize that my unique contribution to my new community will be a worthwhile, deliberate, and purposeful one.

I look forward to the challenges and successes inevitably in the months ahead, and I’m ready to serve.  As best described within The Servant by James Hunter:

“Intentions plus actions equals the will.  It is only when our actions are aligned with our intentions that we become congruent people and congruent leaders…With the proper will, we can choose to love, the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead.”