Champion of change: Andi Giesen’s first year at Newman

Mar 21, 2024
dean of students andi giesen is crowning the homecoming king and queen
Andi Giesen Crowning Homecoming Winners

Homecoming is always a special event for Newman University. But for Dean of Students Andi Giesen, there was more to celebrate than just the crowning of king and queen.

Andi Giesen, dean of students
Andi Giesen, dean of students

Giesen’s third day as a Newman employee happened to be Newman’s 2023 homecoming, where she acted as emcee for one of the busiest events of the year for the Student Life department.

At the time of her onboarding, Student Life was vacant due to staff transitions and positional adjustments. Assisting with homecoming in her first week on the job seemed daunting, but Giesen was up to the challenge.

Previous to Newman, Giesen spent her career working in Kansas public schools as a reading specialist, principal and superintendent for the rural school district of South Barber USD 255. Following her time as superintendent, she became a district administrator for Wichita Public Schools.

Giesen is passionate about connecting people to their futures and was excited to bring her expertise to the college level at Newman University.

A year of growth and student support

On Feb. 29, Giesen reminisced on her first full year at Newman during a lively homecoming night — the same event she was thrust into just a year prior. This time, however, she had a fully staffed Student Life department by her side.

Katherine Reynoso, director of multicultural engagement, and Joshua Prilliman, director of student activities, helped organized the big event, and their efforts did not go unnoticed.

Students, staff and alumni participate in the Color Run with colorful powder on campus Dec. 2.
Students, staff and alumni participate in the Color Run Dec. 2.

Student Life received more than 30 nominations for homecoming royalty — a record-breaking feat from previous years’ submissions.

“This showed us that the team is doing effective things to reach students, to bring them together and connect them to campus,” Giesen said.

Looking back on the previous year, Giesen is proud of what the Student Life team has accomplished — including an entire year’s worth of fun-filled student events. Giesen attributes the department’s success to her staff and student workers.

“I think the level of activity and student engagement we have now is greater than I imagined when I first came,” Giesen said.

Katherine Reynoso attributes Student Life’s success to Giesen’s great leadership. “She guides us to do the right thing for students and she is always encouraging us on how to do better for them,” Reynoso said.

“It’s truly an honor to work with her,” Reynoso said. “She is always going the extra mile and she is the first person to arrive even though she lives an hour away and the last one to leave.”

Continuing to build on the student experience

While homecoming week will always be Giesen’s reminder of where she began, she and the rest of the Student Life department are setting their sights on how to continue building success in the future.

Students enjoy the delicious dishes offered at the international bruncheon Oct. 24.
Students enjoy the delicious dishes offered at the international bruncheon Oct. 24.

“We want to make sure that we are creating opportunities for students based on their interests and the things that will connect them to the university and to each other,” Giesen said. “So when we are creating opportunities, events and celebrations, we are reaching out to as many students as possible and creating events within their interests.”

Giesen shows passion in her role as dean of students through her actions, where she strives to be a positive influence in students’ lives.

“We feel like we have room to grow with the amount and depth of the communication that we provide for our students with opportunities,” Giesen said. “I’m inspired by the students that we work with every day.”

I’m inspired by the students that we work with every day.

Andi Giesen

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