By Annie Dang, Staff Writer
Characterized by others as compassionate, energetic, and humorous, Joseph Shepard is Newman’s first ever Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life.
The new position was created by Dean of Students Christine Schneikart-Luebbe after the merging of three graduate student assistant positions into one full-time Student Life position. Shepard was hired after a whirlwind application and interview process.
“I am very excited for Joseph’s presence on campus,” Schneikart-Luebbe said. “Everyone - student leaders, faculty, staff - who sat in on the interview was too. He is an extraordinary and enthusiastic individual, with an incredible amount of experience that will really help to engage Newman.”
A San Diego native, Shepard graduated from Wichita State University in 2016, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. He returned the following semester to earn his Masters in Public Administration in May 2018 and began working at the Kansas Leadership Center as a Program Associate following graduation.
He said his passion for working in higher education led him to find Newman.
“I was actually browsing online, and saw the job opening and contacted Dean Schneikart-Luebbe who encouraged me to apply, ” Shepard said.
Schneikart-Luebbe and Shepard are no strangers to each other. The duo last worked together when Shepard served as WSU’s two-term student body president while Schneikart-Luebbe served as the Dean of Students.
“Christine is an amazing advocate for students, putting students first and, at the same time, doing what’s right for the institution.” he said. “She and I operate on the same philosophy. It just so happened that Newman had a position open, and she happened to be there.”
The role is designed to emphasize diversity and acceptance on campus, supporting the existing infrastructures while building new programs.
Despite the position being approved for only one year, Shepard hopes to use his time wisely and create positive changes to Newman.
“I caught what I call the ‘student affairs bug’ in my junior year, “ Shepard said. “I wanted to be able to impact more students who come from the same background as mine, but really help all students to become more culturally conscious, and propel the whole university forward.”
One of the first things Shepard would like to do is offer more faculty and staff diversity trainings to increase awareness, but said students are his no. 1 priority in the end.
“I’m just really excited to use my skills and passion to build this university up, even greater than what it is right now. I want more students to know about Newman. I want to connect Newman with the greater Wichita community, to help increase enrollment, diversity, and create programming to help everyone see that Newman is for everybody,” he said.
Shepard will officially assume his duties this week after finishing his work at the Kansas Leadership Center.
PHOTO: JOSEPH SHEPARD was a two-term student body president at WSU and worked at the Kansas Leadership Center before he took the job of Director of Multicultural Engagement and Campus Life at Newman. Courtesy Photo, Joseph Shepard