Involving Students in Campus Life Essential for Sarah Thatcher
By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
If serving students is the mission of GCU employees, then the Office of Student Life could be considered the control center for life on campus.
Without students on campus this summer, the staff at Student Life’s sleek new location at Prescott Hall continues to plan toward the fall semester move-in period that begins Aug. 23. The coming semester is billed as the busiest in GCU’s history, with the student population spiking by nearly 1,700 additional students to around 7,000, about half of whom will live on campus.
Student Life announced two key staff changes last week that are expected to help strengthen that process of engaging students and guiding them to the resources they need to make their college experience rewarding through events, organizations and a fulfilling residential life.
Sarah Thatcher has been named student involvement manager, the previous assignment of John-Paul Reiger before he was promoted this summer to director of Student Life. Pastor Tim Griffin, GCU’s dean of students, oversees Student Life as a whole.
Move-in week is two months away, but Thatcher (right) is already playing a critical role in shaping a plan for the fall semester. Letters and packets are being sent to students’ families as GCU prepares its community for the “organized chaos” expected on campus in the first couple weeks of the semester.
“Our desire is that this feels like home on the first day, and that we can serve them and their families well,” said Thatcher, 30, who also earned her master’s degree in secondary education at GCU.
A dream job
For Thatcher, the past two years of her career have been two of the most purposeful years of her life.
She began at GCU as an academic counselor for the College of Education before joining Student Life, but has since developed into more of a life mentor for students. She gets to know students through the ASGCU student government, also meeting them at countless events and in the aerobics classes she teaches on campus.
Prior to joining GCU, Thatcher worked in Goodyear for six years as a high school teacher. She said the job solidified her interest in working with young people, though she was frustrated by the public school mandate of keeping faith and God out of the classroom.
At GCU, and through Student Life, she feels she can truly “walk through life” with students as a true mentor.
“I really see my job (at GCU) and what I do here on campus as my ministry, as well,” Thatcher said. “When I was a teacher, I loved the students – but I worked in a public school and couldn’t share that aspect of my life.”
Anthony Mann, the former ASGCU president who graduated in May, said Thatcher’s creative and sensitive spirit would propel her in her new role over a growing student government.
“That’s a huge asset when you’re leading student government,” said Mann, who is succeeded by incoming ASGCU president Nick Ely this fall.
“She has a genuine care for people and how they’re doing,” Mann said.
Other changes in Student Life
Thatcher’s previous assignment as student activities coordinator is up for grabs. GCU is expected to post the job, which oversees elements of student-oriented events.
Student Life also announced that Matt Lamb, who previously ran a recreation program at a church in Indiana, has been named intramural coordinator. He will oversee flag football, indoor soccer and other games that are popular with students. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, the office is hiring a judicial officer who will oversee the review process of student discipline in line with non-academic code of conduct violations.
Details on move-in week are available at www.gcu.edu/Student-Life/Welcome-Week-2012.php.
Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or email@example.com.