Written by Lauren Simmons // Photo by Caleb Chunn
Jane Chandler, the new director of Campus Life, stepped into office in July to facilitate relationships within the student body.
As director of Campus Life, Chandler has created more opportunities for students to be involved in activities around campus. Chandler said her goal for the year is to create a place where students can find fun activities and entertainment every weekend.
“I think that making things more inclusive and welcoming to people is a huge thing,” Chandler said. “I have purposely hired some student workers to bring a different view, opinion or background from my own to voice that difference. I don’t want anyone to feel that they’re not welcome at Harding in general or at these specific events that we have.”
Born and raised in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, Chandler said she quickly ran into culture shock after moving to Searcy as a college freshman in 2012. Club weeks, concerts and other campus events convinced her that Searcy was more than a small town with nothing to do. After graduating in 2016, Chandler worked for Harding Admissions for seven years until she was approached by Assistant Dean of Students Marcus Thomas and Dean of Students Zach Neal about the position in Campus Life.
“Jane has the confidence to take a public role of leadership but maintains the humility that allows her to be very comfortable guiding others behind the scenes,” Neal said. “She was a student leader, did an excellent job in Admissions and now brings both experiences into Campus Life of knowing how to create an environment that fosters relationships.”
Chandler said the biggest need she has seen on campus recently is the desire for normalcy after COVID-19 changed the students’ high school experiences. Chandler said she is pushing for normalcy after every student was affected by COVID-19.
“No matter what age or classification, you’ve had a weird four years wherever you’ve been,” Chandler said. “Now that we are out of the scariness and uncertainty, people are just desperate for community and connection and some version of a normal experience, whether they are seniors or freshmen. We are trying to pack our schedule for this year so that whatever someone’s interest is – bingo, movies, sports or whatever – there is something available for them.”
Chandler said she planned exciting activities for the year and worked closely with students for feedback on the voices and opinions of the student body. Senior Britney Njeri, one of the Campus Life co-directors, said Chandler has been working hard in preparation for the semester.
“Jane is one of the most joyful, kind and patient people I have ever met,” Njeri said. “She has a passion for Campus Life and deeply cares about Harding students. I have greatly enjoyed seeing her plan events, executing them, being at almost every event and making the effort to know people. Harding is so blessed to have her as director of Campus Life.”
In addition to bingo and movie nights, which have continued in previous years, Chandler has plans for a Taylor Swift listening party, board and yard game rentals in the Campus Life office, a concert and a group trip to Magic Springs over Fall Break for students that might not have transportation.
“We want this space to be inviting and be a place where people want to be,” Chandler said. “And if people see me around campus, say hi and pitch an idea. I want people to talk to me … and pitch ideas if they want. Come hang out and make it your own.”