Campus Engagement and Leadership at UNC Pembroke

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Abdul Ghaffar
Abdul Ghaffar

As the Division of Student Affairs continues to advance UNC Pembroke's mission to change lives through education, one of the division's largest departments is making visible and behind-the-scene updates to their role on campus.

The updates stand to increase student access to student success.

Campus Engagement and Leadership, most recently known as the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, and formerly titled the Office of Student Activities, has recently launched their new moniker and plan to increase student engagement throughout campus.

Campus Engagement and Leadership's (CEL) mission is to provide meaningful co- and extra-curricular developmental and educational opportunities for students in a values-based and student-centered environment. 

With this in mind, the refreshed office is driving their strategy around the concept of "CEL" – Connect, Engage, Lead. 

  • Connect – Encouraging students to connect faculty, staff, the campus community, and other students.
  • Engage – Celebrating the culture of campus through personal and group exploration.
  • Lead – Working with others in a supportive community to create positive change. Leadership at UNC Pembroke is creating a legacy that will leave the campus and the community better than the student found it.

There have been several changes within the department leading to the new name. In December 2017, Fraternity and Sorority Life was merged with the department. This addition included 18 fraternities and sororities, and nearly 300 fraternity/sorority students along with a dynamic staff. 

“These students are among the most diverse, organized and active students on campus,” stated CEL Director Abdul Ghaffar.

Last year Fraternity and Sorority Life students planned and executed numerous events drawing crowds exceeding 500 attendees, including four events with attendance figures exceeding 1000. Hundreds of hours of community service are contributed by these organizations. In fact, many of UNC Pembroke's student leaders are members of Fraternity and Sorority Life. 

With this addition to the department, CEL will now operate with four primary tiers:

  • Leadership Education (led by Associate Director Bethany Wendler;
  • Programming (led by Assistant Director Parker Watson);
  • Student Organization Development (led by Assistant Director Kyle Levine); and,
  • Fraternity and Sorority Life (led by Associate Director Lamar James and Assistant Director Jade Jones).

Also members of the CEL team are Administrative Support Specialists Tremictrus Fairly and Brittany Hunt. 

“We have gifted groups of professionals who are at the top of the Student Affairs field. Our dynamic staff is rich in diversity, talent and motivation. If I were to speak in a sports perspective, it would be very hard for a team with this much talent not to be successful,” said Ghaffar.

“Each of the four areas of service within CEL will operate to engage all students - traditional, non-traditional, commuter, resident, etc. - to foster a sense of community for all members of BraveNation,” Ghaffar continued. 

Notably, the CEL team serves as advisors to the Student Government Association and the Pembroke Activities Council, two of the largest student organizations who have tremendous influence on campus.

Among the Leadership Education tier is the resurrection of UNC Pembroke's long-standing Distinguished Speaker Series (DSS). After a five year hiatus, CEL is bringing back the Distinguished Speaker Series which has served to bring impactful speakers to UNC Pembroke's campus.

Past speakers have included Maya Angelou, James Earl Jones, Dick Vitale, Oliver North, Arianna Huffington, Nancy Grace, Pat Buchanan, Spike Lee, Bill Nye, and Dr. Cornel West. 

“We believe the DSS is one of the premier programs in the region. In past years the events generated large amounts of positive publicity for the campus as well as attracted community members from all over the region to the Givens Performing Arts Center. We routinely were at or near capacity with these events,” Ghaffar explained. 

The 2018-19 Distinguished Speaker Series will include appearances by Diane Guerrero, Michael Eric Dyson, Wes Studi, and Martin Sensmeier, who kicks off the series on Sept. 27

To learn more about Campus Engagement and Leadership and the Distinguished Speaker Series, visit uncp.edu/lead.