For eight years, Student Activities Director Gina D’Annunzio’s two goals have been to create a “defining moment” in every student’s life and to spread her love of Temple.
“I want people to love Temple University, this is a great place and I hope they can have as much love for it as I do,” D’Annunzio said.
Last Friday, D’Annunzio announced her resignation as director of Student Activities in order to pursue personal opportunities, effective Friday, Oct. 5.
“My only start has only ever been at Temple,” D’Annunzio said, adding that she thought the time was right, but was too busy with the start of the semester to plan for the future right away.
Dean of Students Stephanie Ives said that whoever takes the place of D’Annunzio will be capable, but he or she will never replace her.
“We will hire a great Student Activities director, but there will never be another Gina,” Ives said.
Associate Director of Student Activities Christopher Carey will become the interim director of Student Activities until a replacement is found through the culmination of a national search, Ives said.
Ives broke the news of D’Annunzio’s departure in an email sent to faculty on Sept. 21, which read: “Gina is beloved by the students she advises and leads. She has made a tremendous impact in the lives of thousands of Temple students, many of whom credit her with presenting them with true turning points and memorable moments in their lives. She has been a special part of Temple and has truly embodied dedication, commitment, and love for our University.”
D’Annunzio first came to Temple as a graduate student studying sports and recreation administration in 2003, after graduating Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
In February 2004, D’Annunzio became a graduate extern in the Student Activities office, working in the student movie theater, which was then based in Tuttleman Learning Center.
After deciding to stay with the university instead of leaving for a professional sports internship, D’Annunzio became an advisor to Main Campus Program Board in the spring and summer of 2005, before being appointed to the temporary associate director of Student Activities that August.
In 2006, D’Annunzio became interim director of Student Activities before assuming the role as director in June 2007.
Directly, D’Annunzio oversees Temple Student Government and assists in directing MCPB. In addition, she has involvement with everything from homecoming concerts to helping sorority sisters organize the largest recruitment night in recent memory.
“There is no day-to-day basis as director of Student Activities,” D’Annunzio said.
“She is not just our advisor, she is more our mentor, especially to me,” David Lopez, a senior political science major and student body president, said. “It always amazes me how down to earth she is because she can always put things in perspective in any situation no matter what it is, so her leaving is going to upsetting but at the same time I am happy for the chance we have had to work together.”
When D’Annunzio became associate director of Student Activities, she remembered there being just 126 student organizations; there are now more than 300.
Organizing events such as last year’s Kid Cudi concert and an annual excursion to Jamaica to help build schools, D’Annunzio’s staff must always work to find creative ways to engage students with entertaining programs, often on a smaller budget, she said.
“Any idea is a cool idea, so if someone brings a 100-foot banana split to the table for Welcome Week, let’s go for it,” D’Annunzio said.
“It’s no secret that we do a lot with little at Temple,” D’Annunzio added. “We do our best to offer cost savings to students, which I think is a fantastic credo.”
In order to build programs around a large commuter population, D’Annunzio said that she prefers not to think of Main Campus as a commuter school, instead she chooses to create events that will make students stick around at night and on the weekends.
Free Food and Fun Fridays is one of the larger events D’Annunzio and Student Activities created as a way to engage commuter students.
“That way students know there is always something going on at campus, and there is no excuse to go home,” D’Annunzio said.
The national search for a new director of Student Activities will begin this fall, and will likely continue to the end of the academic year so that a possible hire from another university may finish the year out at his or her current institution, Ives said.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.