By Taylor-Jo Russo, Staff Writer
By the end of this year, the Office of Experiential Education (GRAB) and the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC), two distinct entities, will become one. The integration comes after years of deliberation in part by administration in both organizations.
GRAB and the GLC accomplish similar student development goals, though they operate in different spheres. GRAB combines student leadership and group development with outdoor education whereas, the GLC achieves the same leadership development in a traditional and discussion-based approach.
The final decision for the integration occurred over the summer but will not be official until the end of this year. Executive Director of the GLC Andrew Hughes noted that the full year for integration was necessary to allow both offices to include their student leaders and staff in the process, ultimately making the transition as smooth and successful as possible.
Students may not see substantial differences in their opportunities within the two programs as a result of the two joining forces. The new office, nameless as the moment, will offer the same programs with slight changes and improvements. For example, following the integration, the GLC Leadership Certificate will be broken into smaller group components more often. Hughes says that condensing the groups will, similar to classes, foster a stronger curriculum and support base while completing the program. GRAB will continue to offer day trips, expeditionary learning, and training with a stronger focus on student and group development.
According to Hughes, the two programs are in no rush for integration; they aim to make the process as deliberate as possible. Those changes may be internal such as providing compensation for GRAB student staff, or external, like creating new events such as a student leader summit in collaboration with other offices on campus.
In terms of the most exciting prospect of bringing the two programs together, Hughes said he looks forward to “the opportunity to provide more leadership development in the wilderness and on campus, ultimately providing the college and our offices with more synergy.”
Alice Abbott-Havers ’22 reflected Hughes’s excitement from a student perspective: “The idea for the integration sounds interesting and seems that it will make the goal of the two offices more accessible to students and perhaps less intimidating by having more options of accomplishing the goal.”
Overall, the GRAB and GLC integration will enhance preexisting aspects of both programs while introducing new methods of leadership instruction, all with the goal of benefitting students who partake in the programs.
“I’m excited to see what we can create together,” Hughes said.
While the two offices explore and develop a new culture and create a new name, students may not notice much, except for improvements and collaboration towards their main goal. The new entity will provide students with more varied opportunities to develop themselves and each other in one place.