By Taylor Bradford ’19
“Just share with me your vision.”
Those words were all that artist Shell Bradbury had to say to Jennifer Jukanovich, Gordon’s Vice President for Student Life, in order to help turn a dream into a reality.
Two years later, the Office of Student Life sports a new mural that reflects its new name, staff and mission.
In light of recent issues that have been raised and budget cuts that have been dealt with, the Office for Student Life (formerly known as the Center for Student Development) felt that it needed to realign its team for the purpose of being more proactive for initiatives and serve the student body as best it could.
Its new mission focuses on aiding students’ development as it pursues academics and creating an atmosphere where students feel welcome and empowered to lead and thrive in an intentional Christian community.
Chris Carlson, who had been the Dean of Student Engagement, has now adopted the title of Dean of Student Success. He will focus on new initiatives, such as the new co-curricular transcript called Gordon 360. Within this new initiative, Carlson will shepherd a student’s journey from the moment he or she puts down his or her deposit until graduation.
Over the summer, Nick Rowe was hired as the new Dean of Student Engagement.
“We restructured that position”–that is, Rowe’s position–”to really focus on leadership development and the engagement with our students that are increasingly global and a changing demographic,” said Jukanovich.
Along with the new mission, name and faculty, Student Life is excited to present a new piece of artwork that encompasses their mission. It is also dedicated to the late Steve Macleod, the former Dean of Student Development and Planning, who passed away in 2015.
The new installation was created by Bradbury, an artist who has taught classes for the Gordon In Orvieto program and is currently an adjunct on campus. The installation includes a mural of a tree mounted on the wall, skylight with window decorations, and new furniture.
The tree is made of a bronze reflective acrylic that is mounted on three solid oak panels. When a student looks at the reflective material, she or he sees the self. This was done to remind anyone who looks at the tree that they are apart of something greater than themselves.
The branches of the tree are not confined to the oak paneling as they reach out in different directions, which speaks to the idea that Gordon students are creative and free. Working from the roots up, the ceiling has the words of Isaiah 61:3 surrounding the skylight. This is to remind students that they are looking up into the heavens.
Jukanovich said, “I think that controversies and the challenges that we have had have been a refining time for Gordon and part of that refinement is knowing in what we are rooted. What is the soil? People talk about a framework of faith—I like to talk about the soil and what are we cultivating. We are not just a liberal arts college, we are a Christian liberal arts college.”