Community life: buzzwords that anyone who attends Trinity Western University knows all too well. It may feel like overkill at times, but this is at the heart of what has drawn many of us here in the pursuit of education and relationship building—the desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Our university is riddled with student leadership positions: RAs, discipleship groups, SOS leaders, and more. It is through Student Life—that glass office sprawling the main floor of Reimer—that all facets of student leadership know how to function. A month ago, Carson Pue took on the position of Interim VP of Student Life, a position previously headed by Sheldon Loeppky. I sat down with Pue to hear about his new roles and the hopes that he has for university leadership in the future.
Mars’ Hill: While you are new to the position of Interim VP for Student Life, you aren’t new to TWU. Can you tell us about your history in being here?
Carson Pue: I sort of have several angles in being here. My oldest son studied here, so I had the experience of being a parent to a student and I was incredibly impressed by his academic experience. My background is in Leadership Development, and I’ve been connected with the MA Leadership Program at TWU. About a year ago, President Bob Kuhn and Bob Wood asked if I would consider becoming the Special Assistant to the President.
MH: Can you elaborate on what that position is—Special Assistant to the President? It sounds like you are secret agent.
CP: Well, if I told you, then I would have to kill you. [We laugh]. The President of a University has a stack of file folders, towering in height. Kuhn’s position is like being the mayor of a small town. If there are any hiccups in said town, they come to him. When Kuhn began at the university, he set up a vision—the New Era Vision—looking forward to the future of TWU. It’s made up of 17 file folders of things that need to be moving forward for the sustainability of the university. As special assistant, part of my role is to ensure all 17 continue to move forward. Additionally, I sit on Executive Leadership Team, alongside the President and Provost.
MH: So currently, you are continuing to hold both positions—this explains how busy your current schedule is!
CP: I’ve been in this position for a month and came in with a full schedule from my other position. When they asked if I could come do an interim stint in this position, so they we don’t rush into hiring a new VP of Student Life, I happily accepted at the opportunity to serve the university.
MH: Can you tell us what your position as VP of Student Life entails?
CP: That is a good question. And truthfully, that is the key question we are asking ourselves right now. When you are leading an organization, the kind of question we want to ask is: “What kind of leader do we need for the future?” sometimes, that can be a challenge as we are caught up in the present. Through Human Resources, the university is asking people amongst student body, faculty, and administration what they think we need in this position for the future? From there, we hope to create a profile for candidates.
MH: That is a great approach, because it can be a challenge to amalgamate the needs and voices of students and faculty with administration across the campus.
MH: One of the large envelopes you have been pushing forward with Kuhn has been the proposed Law School. Has that been a primary focus you have been working with?
CP: Truthfully, I kind of refer to the Law School file as an annoyance. The Law School has taken up a lot of time when we could have been working on other things, and currently, we are expecting to hear from the Supreme Court of whether they are going to hear our case or not. Nothing is really happening with it right now on our end until we hear word.
MH: Which, I can assume, gives you the freedom to work with the other 16 file folders.
CP: Essentially, yes.
MH: Is there a project amongst those 16 close to your heart?
CP: I don’t have a favourite, and maybe that is a good thing for me. Because in reality, I am trying to move them all forward. But some of the things that I see as positive steps moving forward are that we are taking steps towards a new strategic plan for the university for the next five years. It has to do with addressing many of the aspects of the New Era document—putting dates, goals and objectives on those things to move them forward. Actually, this week the Board of Governors are meeting off campus to pray about the university’s future—putting our hearts and arms around what is in store for the future.
MH: What is a specific difference between the two positions you have been holding?
CP: Well, there are over 300 employees in Student Life; we are overseeing many staff, and student leaders. So, that is a lot of human resource that is there! I believe I can help lead people.
We are thinking a lot about how we can develop our leaders better. We hope that in the future, our student leaders will be more well rounded and aware than ever. Truthfully, I’ll probably be sad when it comes time for my transition out of the position!