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Rick Culliton, dean of Campus Programs, and the director of the University Center Director, watches the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center's progress from his office in North College. Once the facility is complete in 2007, Culliton will move into the University Center to oversee students' co-curricular activity.
 
Posted 10.18.05

Dean of Campus Programs, University Center Director Creates Co-Curricular Programs for Students

From the view of his North College office, Rick Culliton, Dean of Campus Programs, can watch the Suzanne Lemberg Usdan University Center emerge from a hole in the ground to the centerpiece of campus life. Culliton’s interest is more than just a situation of his location. He’s also the center's director.

For the past few years, students, faculty and staff have been involved with the design of the center. For the next two years, Culliton will work with these constituents to bring the building to life.

“The Usdan University center will provide Wesleyan with a space that we've never had before,” he says, glancing over schematics of the center’s new ballroom and dining areas. “We want the University Center to be more than bricks and mortar, we want it to be a place that is alive with activity and programs involving students, staff and faculty.”

Culliton says his dual roles as dean and center director go hand-in-hand. He works with several offices to create intentional co-curricular programs and leadership development opportunities. The Usdan University Center will be the 'hub' where many of these programs and activities take place.

As Dean of Campus Programs, Culliton regularly meets with students who have questions or problems with some aspect of their life on campus. He works with students who are initiating student-led programs and events. He also meets with Wesleyan Student Assembly leaders to discuss student issues and concerns.

Culliton addresses students’ concerns with Maria Cruz-Saco, dean of the college, and Michael Whaley, dean of Student Services. He oversees Student Activities and Leadership Development, the Campus Center, Community Service and Volunteerism, International Student Services and the university chaplains, and meets with the directors of these offices.

"Rick Culliton will lead this year important conversations on the programmatic vision of the Usdan University Center that will shape up the vision for this extraordinary resource," Cruz Saco says. "Rick is also planning new student leadership training opportunities including programs that enhance development of essential capabilities such as effective citizenship through community service."

Culliton holds a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Boston College and a master’s and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Vermont. He was the assistant to the vice president for student affairs at Vermont before coming to Wesleyan in 2001.

“I was attracted to Wesleyan because it was a smaller institution with a strong sense of community and a greater sense of purpose than many colleges,” he says. “The students here are more engaged in programs on campus which makes my job more interesting.”

His interest in campus life stems from his own experience as a student leader. As an undergrad at Boston College, Culliton was president of the student government. This experience, he says, helps him relate to students at Wesleyan. He encourages students to participate in similar co-curricular activities, so students can leave Wesleyan with more skills than those developed in the classroom alone.

“My hope is that students learn from their leadership experiences here,” he says. “It’s so important that they gain hands on experience facilitating groups, setting agendas and meeting goals-all skills that they will use for the rest of their lives."

Culliton lives in Glastonbury with his wife, Katie, and three daughters, Emily, 8, Annie, 7, and Claire, 3. He tries to find time to play squash at Freeman Athletic Center and spends most of his free time with his family, going to his daughters’ soccer games and taking weekend trips.
 

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor