Name: Joanne Rafferty
Title: Associate Director for Operations
Union: Usdan University Center
Institution: Wesleyan University
Location: Middletown, Conn.
Years in the profession: 13
Five Fun Facts
First job: Cashier at my parent’s restaurant (age 13)
Dream movie role: Effie White in “Dreamgirls”
Guilty indulgence: My daily 3 p.m. sweet tooth fix
Biggest challenge: Being a mom to a preteen daughter
Retirement dream: Joining the Peace Corps and living overseas—somewhere warm, possibly the Philippines, where I can finally meet some of my mother’s family and trace my roots
Q. What is your primary responsibility?
A. I oversee all operations of the Usdan University Center—when something isn’t working well, it’s my role to problem solve until we get it right. I create and approve policies and procedures, direct our student employee leadership program, coordinate maintenance and custodial services, maintain the website, lead marketing and technology efforts, and supervise two professional staff members, as well as a graduate intern.
Q. What would your staff, colleagues, or students say about you?
A. That I work hard, but play hard too. I take my role very seriously, but I like to have fun and try to make the work environment enjoyable for everyone. I think they would also say that I hold others accountable for their actions, that I am very committed to student development and the professional development of my staff, and that I am not a micromanager.
Q. What’s one innovation or project of which you’re proud to have helped implement?
A. My position was created when the Usdan University Center opened four years ago. Before that time, there was not a student employee leadership program, and the previous campus center was not a place where all members of the university community felt comfortable or welcome. Many folks were skeptical about the amount of responsibility I was willing to place upon students and how we wanted to run things. I think using ACUI’s guiding principles and motto that the Usdan University Center should be viewed as the living room of the campus helped us create a special place on campus that the university community has come to appreciate.
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working in the profession?
A. Campus politics exist on every campus—they just vary based on the institution. You need to be willing to look past it and get over it quickly. Reminding yourself why you decided to enter the field of student affairs and higher education is a good way to accomplish this. Surrounding myself with positive people who share my philosophy on student development and reconnecting with colleagues at conferences or through volunteer opportunities also serve as consistent reminders and help keep me grounded.
Q. What is one phrase to live by or bit of advice you might have for future generations of union professionals?
A. Remember your six feet of influence! You can’t always change people. The only actions you can control are your own. By modeling the behavior you want to see, you can have a great impact on those around you.
Q. Is there anything else you would like ACUI members to know about you?
A. I serve as the inclusivity chair for the Region 1 Leadership Team. I would love to hear from our members regarding best practices, trainings, or programs relating to building inclusive communities on campus. Please send your ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jrafferty74 on Twitter!