CLSI’s Revolving Door

Tory Glerum

Due to the recent departure of Assistant Director Khatera Abdulwali and the fact that Director Catherine Regan will soon be leaving, the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement (CLSI) is currently in a state of major transition.

CLSI, with an office is located behind the travel agency desk in the O’Connor Campus Center, works closely with the Student Government Association (SGA), the Colgate Activities Board and over 100 other student-run organizations to teach effective leadership skills and practices and to help plan social and educational programs and events.

Abdulwali, who joined the CLSI staff as a group advisor eight months ago, moved to Oklahoma earlier this month. Regan has taken over the student groups Abdulwali was responsible for advising and will be working with them until she leaves.

Gavin Leighton, president of Students for Environmental Action and one of Abdulwali’s former advisees, said Abdulwali was friendly and helpful when it came to coordinating events and reviewing proposals. However, he said the group did not have trouble switching advisors.

“The transition from Khatera to Catherine was pretty seamless,” Leighton said. “Catherine is just as helpful and easy to get in touch with. Even though she will be gone in less than a month, I am not worried about switching advisors again.”

Regan will be going on maternity leave within the next few weeks, and is then moving to Pittsburgh with her family for her husband’s job transfer. She has been with CLSI for five years.

Regan said the administration is searching for a new director to fill her position once she is gone. When in place, this new director will hire another assistant director.

Transitions aside, student groups will continue to have weekly meetings with the Budget Allocations Committee to determine funding for activities and events. Student leaders can also turn to the handbook that CLSI created last year for helpful tips and advice on leadership, preparing and publicizing events, and running productive meetings. The handbook is available in PDF format on the Colgate website.

Office Manager Denise Upton and Assistant Director Julie DiTrapano are remaining on staff. DiTrapano she said she would be there to support student groups, address their concerns and help with event planning. However, she advises student leaders to do as much work as possible ahead of time and come into CLSI with a well thought-out plan.

“With fewer advisers, day-to-day runnings [sic] might be a little slower and students will need to give us a little more lead time,” DiTrapano said. “But if everybody is patient, prepared and willing to compromise, I think things will work out okay.”

Regan is also confident that the relationship between CLSI and student groups will not change.

“I think everything will run smoothly as long as both parties continue to work together,” Regan said. “The groups are really run by the students. We are here to assist, guide and advise. A transition is actually a good experience for them to adapt and work with new advisors.”

CLSI is also in the final process of hiring a new coordinator for the Colgate Speaking Union, which encompasses Model United Nations, Debate, Mock Trial and the Student Lecture Forum.

SGA president Rob Sobelman said he speaks with CLSI on a weekly basis, and he would like to see a full staff rebuilt as soon as possible to provide the same level of resources and expertise to student groups that they have in the past. However, he is sensitive to the current situation and hopes that other student leaders will be as well.

“Students need to be understanding that the remaining staff’s caseload is being doubled,” Sobelman said. “Julie and Denise are extremely competent and they are doing a great job given the demands, but it will be rough to drop from a staff of four to two. Patience is necessary during this time of transition.”

Sobelman said that with Regan’s departure, CLSI will be losing a very valuable staff member.

“Catherine has always been there for SGA,” Sobelman said. “We are grateful for the time she has put in and we are excited for her, but it will be very sad to see her go.”