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      Faces of Widener

      Austin Duckett, Assistant Dean of Student Life

      Diamond Schuler, communication studies, '18

      Austin Duckett

      Assistant Dean of Student Life

      Since taking over as assistant dean of student life this past summer, Austin Duckett hasn’t stopped – from hiring new staff to building up a strong student body of leaders. He hopes to make the Office of Student Life a place that brings joy to the entire campus community.

      As assistant dean, Duckett is not only responsible for managing all administrative, functional, and personnel functions in the office, but he also oversees the Student Government Association, student leadership initiatives, the National Society of Leadership and Success chapter, and all aspects of the New Student Orientation programs at Widener.

      Prior to this position, Duckett was the director of student engagement. Before coming to Widener he worked at Ursinus College and West Chester University.

      There is no such thing as a typical work day in the Office of Student Life. Duckett says that working with students is always unpredictable, but very rewarding. “One of the skills needed to work in student life, is to be adaptable,” he said. “There are a lot of things we do that must adapt to as things are constantly changing.” Duckett and his team, specifically Lauren Bolden, director of student organizations, do whatever they can to make things happen for students. Their work in student affairs isn’t simply a job, it’s a lifestyle; they never stop advocating for and helping their students.

      One of the biggest challenges Duckett faces daily is holding students accountable for their responsibilities and actions. There are almost 85 clubs and organizations at Widener, and aside from faculty advisors they are all student run. The Office of Student Life helps students understand the importance of accountability and commitment to these organizations.

      This year he is focused on developing student leaders. He is a firm believer in the fact that leadership and respect are earned, not given. “You must show that you are a leader through, consistency, hard work, being humble, apologetic, admitting mistakes, and having a passion for what you’re doing.”

      The highlight of Duckett’s job is seeing his students finally reach that epiphany, that “ah ha” moment, where everything finally clicks and they realize and accept their true potential and purpose. He meets so many students in his line of work, all from different backgrounds, but seeing them overcome their individual obstacles and be successful in their endeavors is very rewarding.

      “Knowing you helped students set a course that will affect the rest of their lives, is an amazing feeling," he said. "However, it’s not just one individual moment that makes me proud, but instead all the collective moments that I experience with students,” he said.

      Duckett graduated from Lycoming College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and corporate communications, and with his master’s degree in higher education counseling from West Chester University. He says that his undergraduate student leadership positions throughout college reinforced his interest in pursuing a career in Student Affairs.

      Off campus, Duckett likes to spend time connecting with friends and family.


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