|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
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
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.