One look at Levi and you would think he’s been a Jet for life, though he just joined the Newman family in January. Rarely seen decked-out in anything other than a Newman-emblazoned stocking cap, a crimson and navy tie or even a Newman sweater vest—the man certainly looks the part. Of course, Levi’s car sports a Newman license plate. Newman’s newest dean of students has honed his expertise through a variety of experiences at other institutions and couldn’t wait to bring his ideas, energy and school spirit to Wichita.
Born in Denver and raised in Littleton, Colo., Levi is a sports fanatic. Growing up his father had season tickets to the Denver Broncos. At the time, Levi had no idea that he would have a highly successful athletic career himself. A three sport athlete through high school (football, basketball and baseball), Levi loves the lessons and values that athletics teach.
“Communication, teamwork, integrity. We develop these skills in sports and can take them with us into our careers,” he said.
Levi was eventually offered an athletic scholarship for football at Bethany College, playing under Ted Kessinger, a College Football Hall of Fame coach, who had quite an impact on Levi. He specifically remembers one quote from Kessinger and recalls it frequently: “Hug your loved ones and take the Lord with you.”
While attending Bethany, Levi had quite a vibrant campus life. He served as a resident assistant, student body president, editor of the yearbook, and president of math and physics clubs. To say he was involved on campus would be an understatement, and it was during his time at Bethany that he realized he wanted to work in higher education as a career.
Levi worked in Residence Life and Student Life at his alma mater, Bethany, as well as Kansas State University-Salina before becoming dean of students at Newman. While enjoying all of his previous jobs, Levi says he was especially drawn to Newman’s mission and his connection to the Catholic faith. Since coming to Newman, Levi has been impressed with the maturity of Newman students, who he feels want to make the community a better place.
“The students here are so mature; they have a sense of community bigger
than themselves. You don’t find that at every institution.”
Levi has gotten a chance to know students first-hand as fellow community members…and neighbors! His wife Janice is the head softball coach at Bethany; having achieved more than 350 wins when Levi accepted the job, she was not in a situation to leave their home in Lindsborg, so for the time being, Levi has decided to live on campus. Living on campus has presented Levi with some unique opportunities as a new dean. He attends sporting events, goes to Mass, meets with students individually, attends special events on campus and even eats with students in the dining center.
In the meantime, Levi is working hard to make some positive changes and additions on campus to student life and residence life programming. Newman’s new student orientation is getting a face-lift. Levi also hopes to introduce StrengthsFinder, an award-winning program designed to highlight five areas of expertise for each individual, to the Newman community. The StrengthsFinder program offers suggestions for personal development and actions for each individual’s five strengths. A StrengthsFinder enthusiast, Levi’s strengths are activator, developer, positivity, responsibility and futuristic. A quick Google search can explain each of these in detail, but the bottom line is that Levi is a person who gets things done.
During his free time, Levi enjoys golf, slow pitch softball (which he plays with his wife) and Twitter. In fact, Levi has a healthy Twitter addiction! Levi hopes to top 1,000 followers by the end of 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @LeviEsses to read more about his day-to-day life as dean