Engagement offices gets new name, mission

By: Mark Locklear

PEMBROKE — As the Division of Student Affairs continues to advance The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s mission to change lives through education, one of the division’s largest departments is making visible and behind-the-scene updates to its role on campus.

Campus Engagement and Leadership, most recently known as the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, and formerly titled the Office of Student Activities, has recently launched its new moniker and plans to increase student engagement throughout campus. Campus Engagement and Leadership’s mission is to provide meaningful co- and extra-curricular developmental and educational opportunities for students in a values-based and student-centered environment.

With this in mind, the refreshed office is driving its strategy around the concept of “CEL” — Connect, Engage, Lead.

Connect — encouraging students to connect faculty, staff, the campus community, and other students; Engage — celebrating the culture of campus through personal and group exploration; and Lead — working with others in a supportive community to create positive change.

There have been several changes within the department leading to the new name. In December, Fraternity and Sorority Life was merged with the department. This addition included 18 fraternities and sororities, and nearly 300 fraternity/sorority students along with a staff.

“These students are among the most diverse, organized and active students on campus,” CEL Director Abdul Ghaffar said. “Last year Fraternity and Sorority Life students planned and executed numerous events drawing crowds exceeding 500 attendees, including four events with attendance figures exceeding 1,000. Hundreds of hours of community service are contributed by these organizations. In fact, many of UNC Pembroke’s student leaders are members of Fraternity and Sorority Life. With this addition to the department, CEL will now operate with four primary tiers: Leadership Education, led by Associate Director Bethany Wendler; Programming, led by Assistant Director Parker Watson; Student Organization Development, led by Assistant Director Kyle Levine; and Fraternity and Sorority Life, led by Associate Director Lamar James and Assistant Director Jade Jones.

Also members of the CEL team are administrative support specialists Tremictrus Fairly and Brittany Hunt.

“We have gifted groups of professionals who are at the top of the Student Affairs field. Our dynamic staff is rich in diversity, talent and motivation. If I were to speak in a sports perspective, it would be very hard for a team with this much talent not to be successful,” Ghaffar said.

“Each of the four areas of service within CEL will operate to engage all students — traditional, non-traditional, commuter, resident, etc. — to foster a sense of community for all members of BraveNation,” Ghaffar said.

Notably, the CEL team serves as advisors to the Student Government Association and the Pembroke Activities Council, two of the largest student organizations that have tremendous influence on campus.

Among the Leadership Education tier is the resurrection of UNC Pembroke’s long-standing Distinguished Speaker Series. After a five-year hiatus, CEL is bringing back the Distinguished Speaker Series that has served to bring impactful speakers to UNC Pembroke’s campus.

Past speakers have included Maya Angelou, James Earl Jones, Dick Vitale, Oliver North, Arianna Huffington, Nancy Grace, Pat Buchanan, Spike Lee, Bill Nye and Cornel West.

“We believe the DSS is one of the premier programs in the region. In past years the events generated large amounts of positive publicity for the campus as well as attracted community members from all over the region to the Givens Performing Arts Center. We routinely were at or near capacity with these events,” Ghaffar said.

The 2018-19 Distinguished Speaker Series will include appearances by Diane Guerrero, Michael Eric Dyson, Wes Studi and Martin Sensmeier, who kicks off the series on Sept. 27.

To learn more about Campus Engagement and Leadership and the Distinguished Speaker Series, visit uncp.edu/lead.


Mark Locklear