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SUBOG president welcomes opportunity
to hone leadership skills
October 19, 1998

Laura Furdon still can't believe she is president of the Student Union Board of Governors. Sitting at the edge of her seat, Furdon pauses a moment and recalls the spring afternoon in 1997 when she interviewed for SUBOG's recreation and sports promotion position.

Spotlight on Students

Although she was nervous, she got the position. Later that fall, SUBOG President Michael Allenby asked Furdon to be master of ceremonies for the Homecoming lip sync contest. "At first I thought there would be no way I could get up in front of 5,000 people and make sense," says the sixth semester sports marketing major. "Mike called me on it and reminded me about when I interviewed for the recreation position. He said, 'this is a perfect opportunity for you to work on your public speaking skills.."

He was right. "It was a turning point for me," says Furdon, who is on the dean's list. "I gained the confidence that I needed to be able to get across ideas in a concise manner."

The experience also made her realize that she could provide direction for a bigger group of people. Furdon decided to apply for the SUBOG presidency.

"I think anyone can be a leader," she says, "as long as they are given the opportunity. If you asked me my freshman year if I was going to be in this office working with other students on behalf of every single student's best interest I would have said 'absolutely no way.."

Furdon says it can be scary to know that a decision she may make will not only affect this year's board but future ones as well..

"It definitely is an interesting position," she says. "It is one that does not have a huge job description if you look at the bylaws; it is pretty much what you define the position to be."

Furdon says her focus will be on helping board members develop important skills. "Whether it is public speaking, finance or public relations skills, people should be able to walk away from here getting what they want out of this experience," she says. "Watching someone develop the skills they want is more important to me than anything, and I am here to help them attain that."

She has also stressed the need to develop synergy with her fellow board members since she entered office in the spring. "I think the board members are sick of the word," she says, smiling. "I want to be a unit so we can get things done instead of being a group that pulls in different directions. It is extremely important, since we are coming up with policies and programs that affect the student body."

Board members already have been working with faculty and administrators to develop more opportunities for interaction with students. Last month, SUBOG and the office of the vice chancellor for student affairs held the first of six student-administrator roundtable meetings. President Philip Austin, Chancellor Mark Emmert and seven other senior administrators ate dinner and talked with about 50 students in the North Campus Dining Hall.

She says that meeting administrators in a student environment made it more comfortable for the students. "Some students that participated in the dinner were excited to meet the people who make the decisions at this university," she says. "The students felt their insight was valued, and that is all anyone can hope for."

Don't be surprised to see more faculty and staff at student events, Furdon says. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Vicky Triponey and her husband Mike Meacham will be judges at this year's Homecoming lip sync contest. And sometime this semester, Furdon hopes senior administrators will attend a campus-sponsored concert.

Luis Mocete

This article is one in an occasional series on student leaders at UConn.