Student leadership dinner ‘makes connections’

Megan Welch

Leaders from many different organizations on campus came together to celebrate a united Villanova community on Sept. 2.

The theme of the night was “Student Leadership: Making Connections,” aimed at doing just that among Villanova’s campus community. As SGA President Bryan Wagner said, “In keeping with tonight’s goal, it is our distinct belief that the resource we can all be to each other far surpasses what any one organization can do alone.”

A similar event was organized two years ago by SGA President and Vice President John Von Euw and Dave Pedra.

However, this year’s SGA leaders, Wagner and Vice President Rob Dormis focused more on incorporating administration.

“The idea of tonight was to bring student leaders and administration together to get people to meet each other and create connections,” Dormish said.

They contacted student development, the individual colleges and club sports to make sure all organizations were included.

Opening remarks were made by Dormish and Rev. John Stack, O.S.A, vice president for Student Life, followed by dinner.

Students and administrators were scattered together at tables to facilitate the fostering of new connections.

Afterwards, Tom Mogan, director of Student Development, came forward to give some thoughts on leadership.

He spoke of his travel experience in Rwanda this past summer, and its influence on his ideas of leadership.

The conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu factions provided a unique opportunity to view how leadership can solve problems on a national level.

Mogan translated these broader ideas to the university level, touching on the notion of servant leadership, or leadership through continuous service.

He then left with the students with several questions to consider during their remaining service time on campus, saying, “Know that you can make a difference, and you will make a difference.”

Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., spoke next, focusing on the importance of the connection between student and administrative leaders on campus.

He spoke of the constant cycle of a college campus: the departing of students, the quiet summer months until the Orientation Counselors arrive in August and then finally the rebirth of activity on campus when all of the students arrive. Donohue reiterated that each new year is made possible by all of the many leaders on campus: “It is important to realize that this rebirth is achieved through your enthusiasm and your commitment to the University.”

Donohue made sure to recognize the hard work of the administrators throughout this cycle by creating an atmosphere in which learning and service are not only supported but achieved.

He ended with the reminder that while each organization is important, it is teamwork which ultimately creates success, saying, “It is an exciting evening to have so many people who are leaders in the same room.”

The evening finished with remarks by Wagner.

He stressed the presence of the word Unitas, or Unity, in the Villanova motto.

“It is important that we, as student leaders, continue to find new ways to foster that community, that togetherness, which makes Villanova so unique,” he said.

As SGA president Wagner believes in the SGA slogan, “Working for every Villanovan.”

He stressed the fact that SGA is a student-run organization and thus understands the trials and setbacks faced by other student organizations. As a result SGA has refocused its efforts on its ambassador program.

“The mission of SGA Ambassadors is to reach out to the other campus organizations, understand their needs and desires, help them achieve their goals and facilitate interaction between different groups and organizations,” Wagner said.

In these interaction, the dinner appeared to have already achieved success. Margaret Mooney, co-founder of Villanova Students against Breast Cancer, said she was glad for the opportunity to network and learn about new ways, such as the SGA Ambassadors, through which to become more involved on campus.

“I feel really inspired to be more proactive about working with other organizations to not only help my organization but to benefit others as well,” she said.

In the end Wagner believes the event met its goal of increased networking and communication among leaders and administration alike.

“Sitting up front with Father Peter, Father Stack and Rob Dormish, we were amazed at the great turnout of administration,” he said. “To turn and see everyone talking together was wonderful. There was never a dull moment.”