Donna Eddleman, newly appointed Dean of Student Activities, has committed her life’s work to student affairs. With her experience, Eddleman intends to continuously implement and advocate for the student voice.
“In some ways I’ve been preparing for thirty years because that’s been my life’s work, advocating on behalf of students,” Eddleman said. “So I think in many ways its building on past experiences in the context of a campus ethos that is really unique to Redlands.”
Through her experience Eddleman has noticed that the most powerful voice on campus can be the student voice and their want for change.
“I would say that my governing philosophy is that I believe that the student voice is the most powerful voice on campus,” Eddleman said.“I try to encourage students to be articulate, informed and respectful. And I think that if students are cognisant of how they use their voice and if they collaborate with employees with positions, that can help [the students] be successful. If they collaborate on things that are important to them there is a lot that can happen as a result of that student voice.”
Eddleman’s previous experiences in her field of study include various positions at universities such as: Manhattanville College, New York University Abu Dhabi, West Texas A&M, Southern Utah Universities, Christopher Newport University, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Mount Saint Mary College. Aside from student affairs, Eddleman has a doctorate in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership, a Masters of Social Science/Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
With the want to better the community and university as a whole through the student voice, Eddleman plans on connecting more with the community, but to also encourage students to engage in governance.
“I wish that students here would be more invested in governance,” Eddleman said. “I think that there is a investment in the social aspects of student activities which is good but I think having students voices around the table in governance [has] certainly, in working with Kamal [ASUR President], been something he and I have been more focused on.”
Eddleman’s anticipation of student involvement shows through her interest in the newly coming election for ASUR president.
“I am really interested in seeing students run for student government positions,” Eddleman said. “It’s a great way to represent a constituency and a great way to help advance what’s of interest to students on campus.”
Eddleman advocates that implementing student ideas comes down to communicating with the students but also looking at previous successful policy.
“To [implement student ideas successfully] it requires looking at previous policy,” Eddleman said. “What is it that we are doing and also understanding where we have the most impact. Looking at the student experience broadly, what do we know thats working, what do we know that’s not working and what don’t we know.”
With invested interest to what impacts student learning and furthers their education, Eddleman focuses on the effects of nationally recognized high impact practices. High impact practices are practices used by universities to further the education of students and improve the graduation rate.
“We know that there are high impact practices that are known nationally, such as service learning that impacts student experience,” Eddleman said. “Also we know that internships, outdoor engagement, first year journies and leadership development all have an impact, so we know what we need to be doing that has a positive correlation to student persistence to graduation, and that should be a priority to student affairs.”
Eddleman’s hope in moving forward is to influence students to be continuously invested in governance but also is to create more relationship with students and faculty.
“My hope is that some students will say that I have already started to create relationships, like with ASUR, but a part of [how I want to be more invested] is not only to be holed up in my office, [but] giving guest lecture[s] or showing up in support of an athletic event,” Eddleman said.
Along with creating more relationships, Eddleman hopes to connect students and faculty to collaborate with what has been learned in the classroom.
“[I hope to] engage and partner with faculty to create ways on which we are complementing the work in the classroom,” Eddleman said. “I think if you are doing student affairs really well you are bringing to life what is learned in the classrooms you have to know what is going on in the classroom so you can collaborate on initiatives and support each other.
Photo taken from University of Redlands website.