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Q&A: Erica Green

As associate dean for campus engagement, Erica Green leads a team that coordinates every aspect of the undergraduate student experience. Here she shares what she loves most Bethel, and what she’s excited about for this fall.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, GS'16, new media strategist

July 15, 2019 | 9 a.m.

Associate Dean for Campus Engagement Erica Green

Associate Dean for Campus Engagement Erica Green

There are a few things that most Royals think of when they hear the word “Bethel.” Among them, without a doubt, are Welcome Week and Homecoming festivities. But every grad can also point to other Bethel experiences that helped shape their college years and build them into the person they are today. Those events and clubs and people are as different as the students who choose them, and they prove that college is truly what you make of it. As associate dean for campus engagement, Erica Green has a role in developing every aspect of the student experience, from the huge, precision-planned events that impact everyone on campus to the eclectic touchpoints that fill in the moments between. We sat down with her to find out more about the formative college years and how she and her team approach making them as well-rounded and beneficial as possible for every kind of student. Here’s what she had to say: 

What brought you to Bethel, and what do you love most about this community?

Initially, it was the rich history and tradition. Bethel has such a strong culture of school spirit and love for this place, and that’s really special. I know a lot of Bethel grads, and as I’ve heard about their experiences, I’ve been so drawn to this place.

"Before I came here a couple years ago, I had worked in higher education for years already, and I had always watched what Bethel does and the amazing caliber of program they put on in student activities. The strong reputation and consistency blew me away. And people are so committed to their faith and growing toward Christ together! To get an opportunity to come be a part of that kind of team, and to help lead into the next season of student life in such a vibrant place, was really exciting to me. It’s a dream."

— Associate Dean for Campus Engagement Erica Green

What does a typical week look like in your role?

My job has three main focuses. First, there's Welcome Week. We have a team of 80-ish student volunteers, and I work on hiring and training them for most of the year. 

Overseeing campus engagement as a whole. I supervise professional staff in that area, and together we support any student activities that are happening on campus. That includes Bethel Student Government (BSG), club sports, events, Student Senate, etc. That means a lot of one-on-one meetings and staff/team meetings, all geared toward helping staff members thrive and helping student leaders get what they need to plan and lead their programs. Almost all our activities are student-led and student-planned, so it’s really fun to walk alongside them. 

I also serve on the student care team. We’re about helping students who might be struggling or who just need a little extra help. We help them get connected to the support and resources they need, like counseling services, career development, etc. 

What are you and your team thinking about as you create programming and hire staff to best support and grow our students? 

Studies have found that students who are engaged on campus are going to be more successful while they’re here and, ultimately, more likely to graduate! So we’re trying to create as many opportunities as possible for as many different students as possible. Not every student is going to love every event, and that’s totally ok. We’re constantly brainstorming new things we can do and try to get as many students interested and excited as possible about life on campus. But we’re also trying to stay committed to the traditions people think about when they hear “Bethel.” Like Homecoming and Welcome Week … how can we take those to the next level and best serve a student body that’s so different from those who’ve come before them? 

We also know that representation matters, so we have a deep commitment to building diversity, both on our staff and in our student leadership teams. In the past eighteen months, we’ve also invested a lot of time and resources into building our student leadership programs. Dr. Washington has such a heart for that, and it’s been fun to see that develop. 

Is there anything that typically surprises parents about life at Bethel? 

Parents are sometimes shocked by Welcome Week and surprised by how excited our student volunteers are to welcome new students in. I think that shows that we’re doing a great job, because students are loving their experience here so much that they want to share it. They sweat and run and invest so much time, and they do that unpaid! And, frankly, the parents are usually very surprised that they don’t have to unload their own car at Welcome Week. 

Parents also comment on the great lengths we’ll go to in order to help their students have success and have a good experience. If I’m working with a student in a care area, parents are shocked and impressed by how many resources are available and how accessible we make them. We’re willing to do a lot to get a student to take the next step toward health and success. 

How does having a sense of belonging and community contribute to personal growth at our students' stage of life?

If students are engaged and if they have a relationship with a staff or faculty member outside the classroom, we know they’re going to be much more likely to graduate and do so successfully. Engagement almost directly translates into higher GPAs, a willingness to take on more leadership opportunities down the road, etc. And from a Kingdom standpoint, we were designed to be in community. That’s what we’re trying to do here: help students find lifelong friends and great mentors, and live the way we were designed to live. It’s such a gift to provide those opportunities, and it’s a joy to watch them grab hold of them and thrive. 

We’re only a few weeks away from Welcome Week 2019. What are you most excited about for the coming year? 

The Welcome Week students are just the best of the best. They work hard, and they really love this place. They pour out so much to make that week a great experience for everyone involved. And our BSG leaders are some of the best on campus. Getting to work with the teams I get to work with is something very special I don't take for granted.

Student Life at Bethel University

At Bethel, college is about far more than getting a degree. It's about doing things that matter, living out our shared faith, and building relationships along the way. Green and her team in the Office of Student Life aim to support holistic student growth through innovative events, support services, clubs and activities, and amazing campus amenities.

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