12 November 2019
Leadership is not all about taking charge and making changes when necessary. It involves having good relations with people along with a positive impact on the community around you. At least, this is what Sentwali Bakari, vice-chancellor for Student Success at UCCS, believes. He plans to take this belief with him to New York where he will begin his new career at Adelphi University.
Bakari has been at the university for three years. Before that, he was the dean of students at Drake University located in Des Moines, Iowa. Starting in December, Bakari will be the president of Student Affairs and the dean of students at Adelphi University.
Adelphi University is a private school in New York City on Long Island. The student population is 8,100, and it is the oldest school on long Island.
“If there is any success that I could claim during my time here, it is the results of amazing people that I work with and the collaboration that I have,” said Bakari. “Relationships are important to me because you only can lead so far by a title; you know, ‘oh he’s the boss.’ I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. If you build trust and relationships, that’s what’s going to last longer.”
“A lot of schools use the term president while some use the term chancellor like we do here,” said Bakari. “My title there is vice-president of Student Affairs. A lot of campuses use the term student affairs; we use the term student success. You’ll find student success on some campuses. I’ll be responsible for many of the services here but not as many.”
Bakari says that upon arrival, he is going to carry out his ninety-day plan. Bakari says that during his first ninety days, he plans to simply listen and observe before jumping in and taking over.”
“I’m very excited to return to a private school,” said Bakari. “Private schools are smaller, so students can become more engaged with faculty and staff and their experiences on campus be more personalized. I enjoy helping other schools, exploring different cultures and meeting people from different parts of the world.”
One of Bakari’s priorities when working with a new school, he explained, was understanding the culture of a place. “It’s not so much of an obstacle, but you can sink like a rock if there’s not good relationships or support. I feel that you can always learn something from someone, even if it’s a first-grader.”
“What I am going to miss the most about this school is an interaction with the students. Attending events, engaging with student leaders across campus, and helping students think through issues and solve problems,” said Bakari.
A solid piece of advice that Bakari wishes to leave with students is that leadership can be messy and unpredictable, but that it can be learned with discipline and practice. “Follow your heartbeat and whatever you’re passionate about.”