Philosophy Statement. Jason Champagne. Wright State University

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1 J. Champagne Philosophy 1 Running Head: PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT Philosophy Statement Jason Champagne Wright State University

2 J. Champagne Philosophy 2 Philosophy Statement Over the course of my career, I have been fortunate to work for several different types of educational organizations in both Ohio and Kentucky. Through the years, I have come to understand and respect the often overlooked administrative aspects of large educational institutions. I have also come to appreciate that contact with students and staff can present teaching moments and that we should embrace those opportunities. In addition, the concept and practice of mentoring has become something that I have embraced. While generally thought of as a one-on-one process, I believe mentorship can occur on a large scale as well. From my own academic experience, I find instructors who share real world experience with the students much more engaging and credible than those who have always been in academe. From my political science professor who served as a delegate to the Democratic convention to the advertising management professor who owned an advertising agency in New York, I learned the value of sharing experiences and how sharing that experience can be used to guide those who have little or none. This has held true at the graduate level as well as those professors with in the field experience have given me insight to a variety of student and administrative issues. In my initial foray into education at a career-technical school in Ohio, I spent 9 years in a marketing communications role but was exposed to many areas of the day-to-day operation, working primarily through my role as a member of the central administration. During this time, I had my first opportunity to work with both high school and adult students in a professional capacity and began to truly value the diverse populations inherent with education. I also began to see and appreciate first hand the positive changes the education made in the lives of others. It

3 J. Champagne Philosophy 3 was at this point that I began feel a reel sense of worth in my profession and began to seriously contemplate a career in education. While working in secondary education, I was fortunate enough to work for a superintendent who was passionate about his profession. Through his example, I became an advocate for education and learned to be resolute in my beliefs. As an administrator, I began to understand how my decisions affected the performance of the entire organization. This ability to take a global view of situation and outcomes has served me well throughout my career and is a concept which has been expanded through my graduate coursework. As my career path lead me to Northern Kentucky University I ventured into the administrative world of higher education for the first time. It opened my eyes to the work and processes which occur behind the scenes that make a university successful. As an undergraduate student, I applied to school, registered for classes, and attended events without a second thought as to the hours and dollars that went into making my college experience mostly effortless. In my new role, I represented the faceless authority with no heart that some students perceive university officials to be. I had moved through the looking glass and began to find my professional calling and have endeavored since to be more sympathetic to students, faculty and fellow staff members. My transition was made somewhat easier by the fact that I was working with graduate students, the vast majority of which were part-time working adults; individuals whom I viewed as peers and individuals to whom I could easily relate and empathize. It is also at this point in my career that I began to have more one on one interaction with students and began to serve as a rudimentary career counselor/advisor for some students. As the lead person for graduate student recruitment, I had the opportunity to meet prospective students through career fairs, open house, and general office visits. Through these contacts I began to realize the impact that I could have

4 J. Champagne Philosophy 4 on a student s future and truly understand how life changing education can be. It was also at this point that I realized I wanted to make a career of higher education because it is a rare profession that affords the opportunity to have a positive, life-long impact on so many individuals. Again at NKU, my supervisor served as a professional mentor. Dr. Griffin taught me the value of trusting your personnel to do their job, valuing their input, and acknowledging their efforts. I also learned to appreciate the varying skills and abilities that people bring to an office setting and to appreciate all the occupations that are involved in making a university work. I carry these values with me to this day and strive to allow those around to be heard and valued. A diversity of voices makes for a stronger organization. As I have transitioned to Wright State, my current position does not afford me quite as much opportunity to be as involved with students as I was at NKU. My position primarily is administrative but I am still given the opportunity to interact with students through open houses, career fairs and occasional office contact. However, this position has allowed me to grow in a supervisory capacity and to study the development of undergraduate students rather closely through my observations of our three student workers. In my time at Wright State University, our office has employed a plethora of student workers of varying ethnicity, gender, and age. The nature of our front office positions requires these students to answer phones and interact face-to-face with graduate students on a daily bases. Since most of our workers are traditionally aged freshman and sophomores, these contacts are occurring with graduate students who are older, sometime significantly. This interaction with older students has forced our workers to mature and it has been interesting to watch these students grow in confidence throughout their time with us. It is in this front office capacity that I

5 J. Champagne Philosophy 5 see Howe and Strauss (2003) millennial traits of confidence and achievement serving our student workers well. According to Evans, Forney, and Guido-DiBrito (1998), Chickering believed that work experiences should be a collaboration between the workplace and university and should be used to maximize development potential. Fortunately for our student workers, our office assistant, who is their direct supervisor, has a background similar to theirs. She is close to their age and was previously employed as a student worker. This combination of relatable experience and closeness of age makes her an excellent mentor for the student workers which I believe is a key component to their success. In turn, I have made it my responsibility to be mentor to our office assistant as she tries to progress to a larger role within the university and has begun to pursue a master s degree of her own. In fact, Luna and Cullen (1998), indicated that since graduate school is often a turning point and that mentorship helps a student process experiences, new knowledge, and perceptions. In general, the students I am involved with, both undergraduate and graduate, seem to be fairly well developed in relation to the various student development theories we have discussed in class. The graduate students have been seasoned through their years pursuing their bachelor s degree and the undergraduate students either enter or are forced to mature through their work study. However, two theories, those of Chickering and Kolb, seem to be the most applicable for my current professional needs. As my present position does not require or afford me the opportunity to have in-depth knowledge of a student s personal background, Chickering s Theory of Identity Development offers a convenient, slot in format. Its simple, straight forward vectors allow one to quickly identify the basic development stage from which a student is operating. I find this most useful

6 J. Champagne Philosophy 6 when dealing with our undergraduate student workers when trying to assess what level of responsibility they are ready to undertake. In addition to Chickering, Kolb s Theory of Experiential Learning can serve as a vital tool when dealing with students in the workplace. Evans, Forney, and Guido-DiBrito (1998) suggest that It may also be helpful to consider adaptive competencies when making work assignments to individuals. Drawing on individual strengths as well as helping individuals develop nondominant aspects could both be considerations (p.222). This theory takes a more holistic view of student development which is more in-depth than Chickering and may be more useful when trying to consolidate complex issues involving students both in and out of the classroom. Assisting students and employees with the development of nondominant aspects of their personality is vital to being a successful mentor. Forcing a student or worker to stretch beyond their comfort zone is vital to their personal and professional growth but must be coupled with the support needed to achieve that growth. According to Musić and Aganas (2007), a strong belief in student empowerment is what allows individuals to confront problems and the support of those around them, specifically the mentor, is vital to ultimate success.

7 J. Champagne Philosophy 7 Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S. & Guido-DiBrito, F. (1998). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (2003). Millennials go to college. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Luna, G., & Cullen, D. (1998). Do graduate students need mentoring? College Student Journal, 32(3), Retrieved February 2, 2008, from Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection database. Musić, R., and Aganas, L.J. (2007, November-December). Five lessons of a Dumbledore education: What Harry Potter s mentor knows [Electronic version]. About Campus,

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