Much more than event planners
Student Involvement and Leadership isn’t just a department that plans events, but rather a partner and active participant in learning, in supporting the complete college student. That couldn’t be truer than at Pacific Lutheran University and a lot of that has to do with the leadership of Eva Johnson ’95, director of Student Involvement and Leadership.
She’s been a leader in integrating how the department integrates learning into campus life, as well as supports the learning that is going on in the classroom, said Laura Majovski, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students.
This fall, Johnson was named the 2009 Outstanding Mid-Level Professional for Region V of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Region V includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Nevada.
“Every Vice President of Student Affairs hopes for a colleague such as Eva,” Majovski wrote in her recommendation letter.
“Committed to the profession of Student Affairs, current on research, able to develop close rapport with students and student leaders, and a contributor to the direction of the Student Life division and university, she is not afraid to question, and is supportive and willing to advance the importance of the role of Student Life,” Majovski continued.
There truly was a philosophical shift in how they work with students when she came to PLU, Johnson said.
The office she would lead, had been used more as an event organizer for students, but as a former educator Johnson saw it could be much more.
She saw her office embrace concepts like pedagogy and assessment in the educational context, as well as expanding access and support through places like the opening of the university’s Diversity Center.
“It seemed like a no-brainer to me,” she said. “We are partners in the educational experience.”
With that in mind supporting programs such as Wild Hope, the First Year Common Reading Program just made sense.
“How do we help students see themselves as a whole,” she said. “And that includes their out-of-classroom experiences, so they learn through both their head and their heart.”
Johnson said it has also been vitally important to have programs that compliment what’s going on in the classroom.
For her the Wild Hope Project has really been the catalyst to have the whole university engage in the process of finding passion and vocation in life.
“I think it’s huge,” she said.
For her she’s found that passion, and with it the excellence she’s recognized for.