Faculty Spotlight: Joe Lepone

Photo by Omar Aref

What is your role at Earlham College?
I am the Director of Student Engagement for Campus Activities and Events. I assist departments and student organizations with their events, helping them navigate event planning and policies across campus. I also serve on committees including New Student Orientation and Commencement.

What do you think needs to be improved at Earlham?
Communication. It may be easy to talk but it’s the delivery and articulation. We need to learn the appropriate ways to communicate with each other especially because we all work together to make things happen for our students. The second one is accountability. Accountability in the workplace is all about setting and holding people to a common expectation by clearly defining the company’s mission, values, and goals. While accountability at work is critically important, it also needs to be balanced with the need to give employees autonomy in their roles. They must feel empowered to do their jobs so they can take ownership of their work and strive for excellence. Finally I would say transparency. I can see why people are skeptical today. Transparency is the process of being open, honest, and straightforward with everyone.

What are some of the highlights working at Earlham?
When I made my switch to Student Life, because I would support student life in their event planning, I had a chance to really work with students one on one. I think that’s what makes a place so special: seeing you all sometimes have interesting ideas, which is great, and then going, “well, how can we make that happen?” I think one of the other highlights is the late night breakfast. This was a campus tradition but we had to put it on hold during the pandemic. We were able to bring it back thanks to Bonita Washington Lacey and Hannah Turner who helped me make it happen. Finally, my other two favorite events are New Student Orientation and Commencement. It is the start of the best fours years of your life but also commencement signifies the culmination of your academic career.

What advice do you have for students?
One, be positive. Life is going to throw so many curveballs, and it’s not going to always be sunshine and rainbows. Be proactive. I think especially today you have to be proactive in everything you do in your job and in life. Have fun in the process, life is too short. I’ve been personally impacted, so I have to learn that you know, a job is a job, but it’s not your entire identity. And don’t let someone make it your entire identity. And again, life is not a race, it’s a journey. Don’t compare yourself to others. When things don’t go right, don’t hide from mistakes. Also, one piece of advice to remember is don’t always try to go right to the top. Sometimes it might not work in your favor, grow and keep going. You will make it. It may take time, but enjoy the journey.

How do you think that The Earlham Word Newspaper could impact the Earlham community as a whole?
I believe if it’s done right, it’ll impact it very positively. The Earlham Word holds people accountable which is really important today. It will also impact our administrators by bridging those relationships. We want to work hand in hand to ensure we are communicating and also listening to our students and vice versa. I am confident this will be an important platform to articulate the student voice and also give administration an opportunity to articulate their voice.

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