This summer, Jo Campbell will be leading University Housing and working with Student Affairs as the new director of University Housing and assistant vice president of student affairs.
Mustang News talked to Campbell before she makes her move from Ohio to California for her new positions.
Q: When did you first start working in higher education?
A: Most of my career (has been) at Universtiy of Illinois in Chicago. I went into an entry-level position, comparable to a (coordinator of student development) at Cal Poly. So I went in entry-level and stayed there for 25 years, and when I left I was a senior associate director. Then I became director at the University of Toledo in Ohio and did that for five years. What was really interesting there was that I had 14 sororities and fraternities that lived on campus, and they had houses. Those were part of my portfolio with on-campus housing, so I got to learn so much about greek life that was really fascinating, and I really enjoyed that. Then I went back to school full-time for my Ph.D. at Bowling Green in Ohio. Going back to school after being out for so long was really hard. I always worked hard and spent a lot of time at work, and going back to school for my doctorate felt exceptionally hard. But I was successful. I got that done in three years, so (I) finished my Ph.D. and graduated over summer and have been looking for that next perfect job, so (I’m) very excited I found it at Cal Poly.
Q: How did you hear about this position at Cal Poly?
A: Well I knew the Humphreys. I knew he had a couple positions; he told me about the Dean of Students position and this one. We never worked together, but we knew each other through a professional student affairs organization. I have a lot of respect for him and his leadership, so that was certainly very attractive to me. The combination of knowing him and knowing what great work I think he’s doing was really very attractive to me in terms of a place to go.
Q: What do you look forward to when working alongside Keith Humphrey in Student Affairs?
A: I think he’s very visionary and I think that is inspiring to people. He’s also very collaborative and involves people. I looked at the process they went through when he first came and they were doing strategic planning, and he’s very involving of people and very transparent. That’s the kind of leader I am, and definitely the kind of leader I was hoping to work alongside, so it’s a great alignment in terms of style for the two of us.
Q: Why do you want to work at Cal Poly?
A: Some of the things that really attracted me was looking at the themes, like Learn by Doing for the institution and then ‘embrace your unlimited possibilities’ for Student Affairs. I think about both of those and they’re both very inspiring to me in terms of how we can work with students and help you be successful, so that was part of what was really exciting to me. It seems to be a great time to come [to Cal Poly] and work in University Housing. The housing program is expanding, and all the people that I met that worked in housing I was really impressed with. And the students I met I really enjoyed, so for all those reasons Cal Poly was very attractive to me.
Q: What do you think about Cal Poly expanding University Housing?
A: Absolutely I think it’s a good idea. I do believe in having people on campus. You know I’ve seen some of the data for Cal Poly in terms of retention and time for graduation, and it makes a huge difference when people are on campus for two years, so looking at what the facts are was really compelling to me about keeping people on campus.
Q: How do you think your experience as chair of LGBT committee on American College Personnel Association’s (ACPA) Executive Council will help you when you start working as assistant vice president of student affairs?
A: I didn’t get to meet any of the staff that work there, so that’s unfortunate, but I hope to work with them and to work with all kinds of partners across campus. I think the kinds of experiences I’ve had really help me be open to what the possibilities are and what we might be able to do. I think trans students in particular are a group we’re just starting to get a handle on what those needs are and what we can do as an institution to help support them. I think the advocacy work that I’ve done throughout my career around LGBTQ(I+) issues have been, I’ve really enjoyed it and I think as much outreach I can do with student organizations in addition to the Pride Center will be really fulfilling for me. I really enjoy doing that kind of work, so I’m looking forward to it.
Campbell will start both positions in July.