Gate Staff Profile: Joe Leo

Gate Staff Profile: Joe Leo

On the wall of Assistant Director of Residential Education Joe Leo’s office is a framed poster that says, “Enthusiasm: one of the qualities needed to be a residential advisor.” Indeed, it takes a lot more than just enthusiasm to do what Leo does. Passion, dedication and enthusiasm are the words that best describe Leo.

Leo graduated from Colgate in 2001 with a double major in sociology and education. Upon graduation, he accepted a position at Colgate in August as an intern for campus life. Since his second year working at Colgate, he has worked primarily with the Broad Street initiative. Leo was promoted to Assistant Director last year and is currently working on housing and operations for Broad Street.

Leo was actively involved in many cultural groups during his undergraduate years at Colgate University. He played on the varsity golf team and was a member of the Konosioni Honor Society. Having witnessed and experienced many things at Colgate during his undergrad years, Leo was excited to be working at Colgate and continues to work for a better understanding of social injustice and various other issues on campus.

Leo learned a great deal from the four-year education that he received at Colgate, and took another four years to give back. Colgate has taught Leo to become analytical and critical of things in a positive way, and he is carrying that over and applying those skills to his job.

“Students are my driving force,” he said. “I love the people and the campus, but the students are phenomenal people. I want to work with them. That’s my main reason for being here at Colgate. Amy and I have been treated so well by Colgate, from the President and her staff to the deans and their staff and the students. I have the fondest memories of this place, and it’s very hard to leave. I love Colgate. It’s a very welcoming place to me, and it’s my duty to make it a welcoming place.”

Leo is departing Colgate this summer because his wife, Amy Hargrave-Leo, will be attending Teacher’s College at Columbia University to pursue her Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling.

Leo has been offered a position from a financial consulting firm on Wall Street, but the thought of coming back to Colgate and visiting the campus and the students is constantly on the back of his mind. Leo likes to volunteer and enjoys being a role model for the students. Leo is excited by the thought that five or six years in the future, he might be visiting Colgate, giving advice to students, learning from them and telling them what he has learned over the years.

“You never really leave Colgate,” Leo said. “If you don’t like it now, you’ll love it later.”

From deciding on where the students will be living next year to the library renovation project, Leo cares a lot about Colgate.

“Sometimes when people leave, there are no strings attached. For me, I want to tie those strings as tight as I can,” Leo said.

Leo is very proud of being a part of Colgate. He is proud that Colgate is constantly changing.

“It was great then when I was a fist-year in East Hall, and it’s getting better now,” he said. “Where else can you sit and eat with the President at a prestigious institution? Only at Colgate.”

There has also been a slight change in the residential aspect of campus life as well. Leo and his co-workers are working hard to make their programs more student friendly. Leo has worked diligently to organize students in the townhouse, University and Broad Street housing.

“Our goal in Residential Education is to emphasize the importance of living with who you want to live with,” Leo said. “If you put me in a castle with no one else, I would not be happy. But if you put me in a cardboard box with three of my friends, I’d be happier. That’s a bit extreme example, but it’s the same idea.”

Overall, Leo has grown from the good as well as the bad situations at Colgate.

“By now, I should be a doctor because I’ve been here for eight years, and I’ve loved all of it!” Leo said.

For Leo, it has been a pleasure to see people grow, and helping people go on their way.

“I plan to stay at Colgate. It’s forever a part of my life,” Leo said.

If given the opportunity to do things all over again, there would be very few things that Leo would like to change. Coming to Colgate was the best decision he has ever made, second to choosing to marry his wife.

“If Gary Ross, the Dean of Admission, would let me get in Colgate again, I’d do it within a heartbeat,” he said.

Surprisingly, Leo is the only 2001 graduate who has stayed at Colgate until now. In reminiscing about his academics when he was still in undergrad, Leo is very thankful to have met the Professors and for the experiences he participated in both in and outside of the classrooms. Dean of the College Adam Weinberg was Leo’s Introduction to Sociology professor, and it is because of that course that Leo majored in Sociology.

“The way he presented the information was very exciting. That made me take four more classes after that,” Leo said.

He even did summer research with Dean Weinberg. Dean Weinberg was a wonderful teacher, boss and mentor to Leo.

“He has challenged me positively,and given me great advice over the last eight years,” Leo said.

Professor of Educational Studies and the Department Chair, Jo Anne Pagano, is one of the most brilliant people Leo has ever met, and Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of English, Jane Pinchin, was very supportive during Leo’s first year working at Colgate. Although Leo has never had Pinchin for a class, he truly believes that Pinchin is one of the main reasons why Colgate is what it is today.

“She genuinely cares for students,” Leo said. “She is Colgate.”

“Raj Bellani is my main man,” Leo said. Bellani, Dean of the Sophomore Year Experience, has been instrumental to Leo’s career at Colgate.

“Raj provides guidance, and his attitude is infectious,” he said.

Bellani arrived at Colgate when Joe had been working here for four years, and already, Bellani has taught Leo a lot.

“He’s been an invaluable resource for me, and all the folks that I’ve worked with here. I appreciate it so much more now,” Leo said.

Leo is just one of many people at Colgate who have dedicated their lives to serving Colgate students.

“We try to make the experience as exciting, fun, invigorating and memorable as possible,” Leo said. “The people who work in Residential Education don’t just see your name; they see your face, and it just boggles my mind!”

Leo believes that there are roughly 2,700 students on campus, and there are so many people who just want the best for them.

“The love is in the air,” he said. “I’ll miss this place and the community genuinely.” Leo said.