Student life on a university campus can make or break one’s college career. That’s why offices like the Student Development Center and the Center for Student Involvement are so important. At Missouri Western we have someone new in the Blum 207 offices: Justin McMillan.
McMillan got his undergrad at Central Michigan University and was very active on campus. He spent a lot of time in Greek life, student activities and multicultural affairs. After Central Michigan University, he furthered his education at Shawnee State University where he held a position as coordinator in Student Life and Student Inclusion. He also spent some time in residential life and admissions.
“I just like to have a good time! I like to bring people together and enjoy life, you know?” McMillan said.
McMillan is a down to earth guy who loves watching sports and playing video games.
As a Student Development Director, McMillan has a lot of organizations to oversee. All of the student organizations are housed in the Center for Student Involvement.Therefore, a lot of the events and programs that students are able to attend and join are now in McMillan’s hands.
“The most rewarding aspect (of working in student development) is being able to connect with students. That’s what drives me every day," McMillan said.
McMillan is the person that the students at Missouri Western State University need, especially right now with a global pandemic. He fell in love with campus at his interview, which is how a lot of people feel at their first campus tour.
“The opportunity that presented itself, I could not turn away from," McMillan said. "Especially with the responsibilities and the potential that this position actually has, the potential that Missouri Western has too. It brought excitement to me.”
One of McMillan’s jobs is to assess the retention rates at Missouri Western and assist students in staying here. Latoya Muhammad works in the same office as McMillan, and she says in the few weeks he has been here, he’s hit the ground running.
“Having folks that are on faculty and staff that resemble our marginalized student population, whether that is students of color, LGBT students, it lends itself well to our students," Muhammad said. "When there are faculty and staff that look like them that have the same identities that they do, they tend to stick around and graduate, and come back and give back.”
McMillan is already a great addition to Missouri Western and is making a great difference in the student life on campus. However, due to the circumstances that we are facing in today’s world, COVID-19 had to be brought up. McMillan had the perfect mindset in being able to still provide for students here at Missouri Western.
“COVID really threw a monkey in the game. What we will have to do is adjust, I believe change is the only thing that remains the same, those who adapt persevere, those who don’t fade away”
Of course, masks and social distancing are at the top of the list, but if campus as a whole were to shut down and events were to be cancelled, McMillan would like to try to see what can be made as virtual events and go from there.
McMillan’s calm personality, adaptability and student focus are a few of the many things that Dr. Hannah Piechowski, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, along with the search committee, were looking for when interviewing for this position.
Piechowski had all great things to say about McMillan.
"He was the one that students wanted,"Piechowski said.
While looking to fill the director position, they had over 35 candidates and the committee had a very detailed list of qualities they were looking for.
“We wanted someone that was not too serious, someone that had a strong social media presence or was willing to have a strong social media presence, we wanted someone that was going to come in, see what was happening and streamline the processes," Piechowski said.
Since COVID-19 is such an important topic right now, especially with positive cases popping up left and right, McMillan has already thought about the unexpected and has prepared for it.
“If things slow down because of COVID, the work within the CSI and Student Development Center will not stop," McMillan said.