The Office of Student Engagement recently selected Brent Turner as the executive director of student involvement, a new position that oversees and connects student involvement and Greek life on campus.
In this position, Turner will be working directly with the Center for Student Involvement and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president of student engagement, said the executive director position was created to provide an overall view of CSI and OFSL. He said the two offices together encompass a large number of student organizations.
“We have some 450 student organizations on campus, and between those two areas there’s so much overlap among students and their involvement,” Howard said. “We created the position to have oversight over these two areas and a comprehensive look at student affairs and student life.”
Turner, who started July 28, said the job calls for “increased collaboration” between students and their organizations and activities. He said although he hopes to make improvements while serving in the position, he plans to primarily focus on student learning.
“This collaboration lets us measure our learning outcomes and be very purposeful with the programs we’re planning for students,” Turner said. “It’s about strengthening campus partnerships, creating new and exciting partnerships.”
As executive director, Turner will be responsible for looking at how the University supports students and student life on campus, Howard said.
“(Turner) will be the supervisor of staff in these areas and will be looking at our student organizations, policies, approaches and procedures across the spectrum,” he said. “Whether it’s community service, a student organization or a sorority, we want all students to have equal positive learning experiences.”
The executive director was chosen through a search committee comprised of staff and student representatives, Howard said, in “true Northwestern style,” these student representatives were all involved in multiple organizations on campus.
Howard said Turner was a “top choice” for the position, and was selected in part because of his extensive student activity experience, both as the associate director in the Office of Student Involvement at DePaul University and as the director of student involvement and leadership at Rollins College.
“He’s a highly sought-out facilitator and leadership trainer,” Howard said. “He has a great understanding of what it means to be an active, involved and positive member of the Greek community and rich experience in student involvement and student activities. He had the perfect mix to oversee this area.”
Turner said CSI and OFSL aim to emphasize the importance of student involvement.
“Employers are looking for things beyond majors and GPAs,” he said. “They want to make sure you’re working with other people of diverse backgrounds. ‘What are you doing on campus that works with who you are as a person?’”
Howard said although Turner has only held the position for a month, CSI plans to look at current practices and how it can enhance them. He said the involvement expo, an event during Fall Quarter in which students learn about different activities and organizations on campus, is one such initiative.
In addition, he said the office hopes to provide more comprehensive support for student leaders.
“We want to make sure that when students move into leadership roles they know where the support and resources are and how we at student affairs can help them get the most out of their experience,” he said. “We want to make sure we have a strong and comprehensive approach to student life at Northwestern.”