Final candidate for vice president for student life, dean of students holds public forum

Derek Jackson, associate vice president for student life, answers questions from the audience for his candidacy to be the next vice president for student life and dean of students. (John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

Derek Jackson, associate vice president of student life at Kansas State University, shared his experience, ideas and reasons for applying for the position of vice president for student life and dean of students, a position currently held by Pat Bosco who will retire in July. Sharing his connections with K-State and his personal background, Jackson talked about his vision for the future of the university.

Jackson shared experiences gained from his career, emphasizing his belief in student empowerment and campus diversity.

“If you’re from a majority culture what is your responsibility and opportunity to step beyond what is comfortable?” Jackson said. “What do you need to think about in this global world? That you need to me more culturally competent and have interactions with people who are different than you.”

In a slide from his presentation Jackson shared the following quote:

“We are raising up well citizens (not just students) of the world to change the world.”

Jackson continued on about his personal experiences at K-State and the University of Georgia, where he received his master’s degree and doctorate. He shared how both places gave him the opportunity to work with LGBTQ communities and communities of color.

“I was one of the of the only straight white males on our staff,” Jackson said about his time at the University of Georgia. “And so I challenged myself to enter into a community I was not comfortable with. And with that came a lot more curiosity, awareness and comfort with other cultures.”

Jackson also shared his belief in empowering students. Citing the Nichols Hall fire and how students organized to stop the demolition of ruins in the 1970s, Jackson expressed his belief that students should be able to enact change within their community.

“K-State Proud campaign and activities helped hundreds of thousands of students. Students helping students financially,” Jackson said. “That is not by chance at Kansas State University.”

Jackson then went on to cite the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center unveiling and how students were empowered to lead that initiative.

“Once again we have our students saying, ‘We’re going to invest in this,'” Jackson said. “The building isn’t the end.”

Jackson also expressed his desire to help students facing financial and food insecurity. He went on to share his support for student mental health and well-being, focusing on the accessibility to health professionals at Lafene Health Center.

The forum concluded with a question and answer session with questions varying between cultural openness and personal accomplishments of Jackson.

Adam Carr, senior in human resources management, said he thought the forum felt more like a history lecture about K-State and as opposed to a vision for the position’s future. Comparing Thursday’s event to the other previous forums, however, the event was more relaxed.

“I appreciate his answer about wanting to meet with students and prioritizing students,” Carr said.

Jansen Penny, student body president and junior in industrial engineering, said he appreciated Jackson’s reasons for applying for the position.

“Something I really liked that he talked about was the land grant mission of K-State and what that really means as far as value to students,” Penny said.

Penny added that other candidates have shared ideas about aiding students facing food insecurity and how Jackson in his current position, along with the Student Governing Association, has already worked together on issues affecting the university.