Incoming Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Enku Gelaye has known she wanted to be a academic administrator since she was a college student.
Gelaye, who is replacing Interim Vice President of Campus Life Paul Marthers in August, said she asked the dean of students at her alma mater University of Tennessee at Knoxville how to get to that position one day.
Years before she obtained her current position as vice chancellor of student affairs and campus life at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, Gelaye asked the dean of students, “‘How do I do what you’re doing one day?’ and he recommended I go to law school,” Gelaye said.
After graduating from law school at the University of Georgia, Gelaye worked at California State University, Long Beach; University of Southern California (USC); University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); and University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. She began working as a conduct affairs officer and later broadened her responsibilities to include more roles in campus life offices.
At Emory, Gelaye plans to bring about 20 years of experience working with college students to develop and maintain Campus Life programs.
To understand the demands and needs of Emory students, Gelaye said she plans to meet with student groups, student leaders and academic units in the fall. When she visited Emory, she met with students who said expressed wanting a sense of belonging and community at Emory, Gelaye said.
However, Gelaye does not yet have any specific programs she hopes to implement.
“I don’t necessarily come with very rigid or defined set of programs that I intend to launch,” Gelaye said.
Gelaye said she’s proud of UMass’s UMatter program, an initiative that provides students with resources that explain implicit and explicit bias, alcohol abuse, bullying and other issues of mutual and self-respect that college students face.
Common issues students on university campuses face include the cost of education, competition and belonging in the community.
On Greek life, Gelaye emphasized the importance of fraternities and sororities serving as a meaningful engagement portal for students, saying that Greek life organizations can engage students in leadership and volunteer programs.
A former member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), Gelaye called her sorority experience “transformative.”