Dean of Students Carry aims to develop leaders
New Dean of Students Ainsley Carry gets to know computer and information sciences student Sushil Menon at his office, room 304 in the Student Center. Carry plans to institute a program to integrate leadership training into many facets of the Temple student experience, including academics, student organizations and residential life. He hopes to have the program ready for the start of the fall semester.
New Dean of Students Ainsley Carry practices what many might consider a counterintuitive approach to his position by inviting student scrutiny of the Temple administration and its policies.
In fact, for a man whose charge in Student Affairs is “presenting students with leadership and learning opportunities outside the classroom,” a healthy discourse between students and administrators would be the first page on his syllabus for Leadership 101.
“Battles between students and the administration is what college is all about, because while students are fighting and clawing, they’re learning,” Carry said. “My job is to encourage students to engage in these talks and at the same time to challenge them to look for ways that they can add to the Temple and Philadelphia communities.”
To accomplish these goals, Carry is designing a framework for student leadership development that integrates leadership training into many facets of the Temple student experience, including academics, student organizations and residential life. Carry hopes to roll out the program at the start of the fall semester.
“With so many students already participating in extracurricular activities, community service and other organizations, Temple is ripe for a comprehensive leadership development program for all students,” Carry said.
“This campus already has many engaged, talented students who want to channel their energy in productive ways,” he continued. “This program will be a way to harness that momentum and maximize student leadership opportunities.”
The initiative will be steeped in community service, drawing from a deep reservoir of students already committed to service. According to Office of Community Service estimates, 1,500 Temple undergraduates dedicated more than 11,000 hours to volunteerism during the 2003-04 academic year.
“For many students, learning takes place outside the classroom where they’re able to connect theories that are raised in class to real-life instances,” said Carry, whose long-term vision includes an academic major or minor tied to service and leadership.
Under the new program, students will be able to practice leadership through a variety of avenues: academic readings, retreats, classes, conferences, online resources, lecture series, alternative spring break trips and learning communities in the residence halls.
“We want to provide students with as many entry points as possible to this program,” Carry said. “We’re hoping to make leadership development intentional rather than something that occurs by chance.”
Carry brings experience directing similar efforts at Southern Methodist University and the University of Arkansas to the project. But, he warned, Temple’s program “is not a copy from somewhere else.”
“We will take the time to mold this into an initiative that best fits Temple University,” he said.
To do so, Carry has solicited opinions from fellow administrators, but also his other constituency, students.
Heeding his own calls to engage students in the management of the University, Carry has appeared on the agendas of various student groups. On Sept. 27, his first official day at Temple, he met with Temple Student Government. This spring, he hopes to reach out to commuters, Honors students, resident assistants and other student groups.
“There’s a bit of a sense among students that they’re left out of the decision-making process at the University,” he said. “I want to repair that. Students should know that they may not always get what they want, but the least we can do is inform them about why, how and when decisions are made.”
Ultimately, Carry’s desire to mentor students springs from his own experiences as an undergraduate at the University of Florida. As a football player under famed head coach Steve Spurrier, Carry said he witnessed “instances of good and bad leadership” on the gridiron.
At one point during his college career, he struggled with academic and social problems. Only after an academic adviser reached out to him was he able to recover.
Still, Carry wanted a career in business and worked on a Wal-Mart management team for a year after college.
“Pretty soon, I realized I wasn’t changing anyone’s life like my adviser had done for me,” he said. “It was then that I decided to enter student affairs and return the favor.”
Now, Carry said, those memories color his interactions with students.
“It’s my duty to instill students with leadership guidance inside and outside the University to ready them for life,” Carry said. “If I don’t make leadership intentional, it’s irresponsible on my part.”
- By Ted Boscia
Carry’s plans for Student Affairs
|Dean of Students Ainsley Carry has formed an ambitious agenda for his first year in the position. In addition to enhancing student leadership opportunities, he hopes to accomplish the following:
• Creation of an alcohol task force: Carry has assembled students, faculty, staff and administrators to discuss strategies to help students make safe and responsible decisions concerning alcohol use. The task force is divided into three subcommittees: prevention and education, which will devise proactive ways to caution students and parents about alcohol abuse and provide alcohol-free alternatives for students on campus; policy, which will examine and revise existing University rules related to alcohol use; and research, which will analyze the effectiveness of the task force’s recommendations. Carry’s goal is to have a full-scale alcohol abuse prevention plan in place for the fall semester.
• Reformation of Judicial Affairs: “When students get in trouble for violating University policy, they need to learn from what they’ve done,” Carry said. He intends to weave this philosophy into student discipline by revamping the Office of Judicial Affairs from its current punitive state to a model that joins discipline and education. Assisting Carry will be Kathryn D’Angelo, recently promoted to associate dean of students. Her previous post, the Student Assistance Center, has been reorganized into three distinct offices: Judicial Affairs, Community Service and Orientation Programs.
• Creation of a Greek life task force: This spring, Carry will convene meetings with principal players in Temple’s Greek system to discuss its future. Carry sees Greek life as “a key part of a vibrant Temple campus” and wants to “allow it to flourish in a structured environment.”
• Installation of an interfaith council: Holding that faith-based groups have been overlooked on campus, Carry hopes to gather students from student religious organizations to discuss how they can be better integrated into the life of the University.