A fresh start for the student activities office

For many, advancing in your career means moving from a small company to a much larger one. But new director of student affairs, Tom Coy, saw a window of opportunity moving from a large university with 30,000 students to a university with 6,000.

Two weeks ago, Coy began his new position as Bradley University director of student activities after spending the last five years of his career at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Coy said he decided to come to Bradley for the opportunity to interact with students.

“At my old institution I wasn’t able to have the interaction with students that I wanted,” he said. “ My decision to come to Bradley [was because] I wanted to be able to work with students more, get to know them, be more engaged and mentor them and also to have the ability to collaborate with other faculty members on campus.”

At Grand Valley State University, Coy said he worked with 25 other professional staff members. Now being at Bradley, he said he is excited to be more involved.

“Coming from a larger place you didn’t see people as much,” he said.  “A lot of communication took place through email because walking across campus to talk to someone was a 20 minute trip. Here, if a student needs something, they knock on your door. It’s different but great.”

Being new to Bradley, Coy said he is looking forward to bringing new ideas to campus and to do things in a different way.

“I am most excited about working with Late Night BU,” he said. “I would like to see it become an evening long event…where we slowly introduce food, or a comedian at midnight so we build a whole evening to keep people around.”

In addition to LNBU, Coy said he would like to strengthen the student activities office branding and social media presence, make processes within the office more sustainable and to provide more student programming.

Starting any new position can be stressful and difficult, but Coy has been handed an additional challenge, following former Director of Student Activities Michelle Whited, who was at Bradley for 15 years.

“I think the biggest challenge is trying to take on the variety of roles she had, ” Coy said. “She was so very connected with people on campus and they need time to feel me out. To follow in her footsteps – it’s big shoes to fill in many ways.”