Posted by Emily Benoff
This semester, the College Office of Leadership Activities welcomes Joshua Nelson as the new Director of Student Leadership Activities. Nelson joins Robin Adams and Kris Scully, who work closely with the Student Government Association and its 98 affiliated clubs to promote student leadership and the involvement in co-curricular activities on campus.
After speaking with Nelson, it is clear that he approaches his new position with zeal. He greeted me with an innovative list of ideas melding diversity, leadership and involvement in campus activities. Because most students are not enrolled in academic classes that focus solely on leadership, Nelson feels that his job is to, "make sure that students have another outlet to go to in order to learn leadership skills that can be utilized after they graduate from Skidmore." He added, "Statistics show that most students will enter the non-profit work field where these leadership skills are vital."
Nelson has plans to experiment with different relationship structures within clubs to ensure that all students have equal representation and are kept socially engaged. Nelson commends the SGA in particular for instituting a consensus rather than a top down hierarchy.
Having been in the field for six years, Nelson has ample experience advocating for students and helping them solve their problems. He previously held similar positions at various other colleges ranging from Mount Holyoke College to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When asked to describe the differences between his work here and his work at significantly larger institutions, Nelson did not hesitate to express his enjoyment in working with a smaller population of students. He appreciates that rather than simply signing a paper to give a club permission to carry out a certain event, he is able to get to know each group personally and involve himself in all aspects of the activity.
Although Nelson recognizes that his department has authority over each club, he feels that his position focuses on helping students efficiently "carry out the legacy of their club" from year to year and accurately spread the club's mission so it will appeal to future students.
Because he is new to campus, Nelson has made it a priority to publicize himself and the responsibilities of his new role. He serves on the panel of Everyday Leadership, and has visited many of the school's co-curricular financial and board meetings. He wants students to feel comfortable approaching him with issues or ideas and understand that he will advocate for them no matter what.
When it comes to publicizing new outlets for student involvement on campus, however, Nelson admits that his actions are primarily behind-the-scenes. He hopes to put the SGA in the forefront; Nelson is in favor of students encouraging fellow students to get involved on campus. He cooperated with SGA in organizing the recent club fair and activities showcase to demonstrate the many opportunities for leadership roles at the college. Nelson's office is located in Room 228 of the Case Center and he encourages all students to stop by during his office hours.