Focusing on facilitative belonging and engagement through co-curricular programming, the Office of Student Involvement has embraced a new strategic focus as several new staff members join the team.
Student Involvement enriches the Wittenberg University student experience by providing quality programs, services, and leadership development opportunities designed to engage students in meaningful connection, learning outside the classroom, and interpersonal growth within a diverse community.
“Taken together, Wittenberg’s storied fraternity and sorority life community, campus programs, and vibrant student organizations provide a foundation for all students to connect and engage with one another and their institution,” said Jon Duraj, senior associate dean of students for student success and retention.
Adding to its long-standing foundation and student-centered mission, the team recently welcomed a new leader, Jade Jones, and expanded various roles and responsibilities for Kari Truax, current assistant director of student involvement, and Praacnaa Colestock, new assistant director of the Benham-Pence Student Center, and of scheduling and events.
“In Jade, Kari, and Praacnaa, we have found tremendous colleagues and collaborators who bring a comprehensive understanding of Student Involvement as part of the student experience,” Duraj said. “Engagement and learning within organization communities provide students the necessary skills and critical opportunities to become deeply engaged with Wittenberg, their individual and collective passions and interests, and one another. I am thrilled to have Jade, Kari, and Praacnaa on the team as we continue to create meaning, purpose, and a true sense of belonging for all students.”
Serving as the new director of student involvement and sorority and fraternity life, Jones received his undergraduate degree from Indiana State University and his master's degree from Eastern Illinois University. Jones will oversee the strategic direction, management, and support for sorority and fraternity life, and student organizations, while positioning Student Involvement as a hub for campus engagement, student connection, and learning. As the director, Jones will also lead the staff and support the integrated programming and promotion of campus events and management of registered student organizations.
As an undergraduate at Indiana State, Jones was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, worked for admissions, fraternity and sorority life, and for the orientation staff. His passion for creating a sense of belonging started while he was an orientation leader, and ever since his sophomore year of college, he knew he wanted to work in the field of student affairs.
"I’m looking forward to building upon a legacy that empowers individuals to be the light of the progress that enriches our lives and those around us," he said. “I believe in creating an uplifting experience that empowers internal and external change.”
Truax is a 2020 Wittenberg graduate currently pursuing her master’s degree in higher education administration and student affairs at the University of Dayton. As a student, she worked in the Office of Student Involvement as the leadership program and student organizations coordinator. Her background experience as a student worker and her current graduate pursuits have prepared her to work with programming groups.
In her new role, Truax is responsible for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a wide range of co-curricular campus and student programs including cultural, intellectual, and social events that contribute to the engagement and development of students. This includes advising the campus programming group, Union Board, executing large-scale student events including Witt Late Night, Art After Dark, WittFest, and Sibs Weekend, and providing programming and advising support for student organizations and groups.
“I am looking forward to continuing to create campus programming that reaches all and builds community among the students, faculty, and staff here at Wittenberg,” she said. “I am so excited to have the students back this fall and to work with our programming boards on planning engaging events for campus to build even more community. I look forward to working with students on creative ways to have fun in our new normal, too.”
Moving from Wittenberg’s athletic administration team to Student Involvement, Colestock brings more than 15 years of progressive higher education experience to bear, including in the areas of academic advising, student services and college/collegiate administrative support.
Colestock came to Wittenberg from The Ohio State University where she was a graduate studies coordinator, leading new student orientation and the pre-commencement ceremony. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in public relations from Ohio Dominican University and currently resides in London, Ohio, with her husband, Ed and two daughters, Riley and Bailey.
As the assistant director of the student center, and scheduling and events, she will provide administrative and logistical support to the Wittenberg community through leadership and management of the University’s scheduling system. In her position, she will also be responsible for ensuring that the multitude of details and mechanics required to produce events are successful through high-quality coordination and management. Colestock will also oversee the Benham-Pence Student Center, positioning it as the community center of campus.
“The tradition and history of our University is vital to the Benham-Pence Student Center and the events here at Wittenberg, and I look forward to providing administrative and logistical support to our community,” she said.
Located on the first floor of the Benham-Pence Student Center just beyond the information desk, the Office of Student Involvement is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and available by phone at (937) 327-7815 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Also be sure to follow all the activities at Wittenberg at @Witts_Happening on Instagram and Twitter.