Augustana hired a new director of Student Engagement in June 2023, who has since established a developing leadership program and short-term goals for the office.
As the new director of Student Engagement, Nathan McQuinn oversees students’ experiences outside of the classroom. He has previously worked as the director of Residence Life at Spring Hill College in Alabama and Montana Technological University.
“I’ve been working in housing for a while and saw this position open up and really loved being closer to home,” McQuinn said. “I’m originally from West Central Minnesota, so it’s almost like a homecoming for me, and I’m really loving Augustana so far.”
McQuinn earned his bachelor's degree in 2007 in political science and then completed his master’s degree in social responsibility in 2011 at St. Cloud State University. While his interest in student life drew him outside his original field of study, McQuinn has been able to apply his knowledge of social responsibility to his goals as director.
“What brought me here was the opportunity to work with students in a new way outside of housing and work with student organizations, leadership and service learning,” McQuinn said.
In his role as director, McQuinn works closely with Randi Maiers, the assistant director of Student Engagement, who oversees the Union Board of Governors, Welcome Week and Viking Days. Before McQuinn joined Augustana, Maiers handled her own tasks in spring 2023, as well as those of the director position.
“We have a lot of respect for each other, and we work well together,” Maiers said. “We bounce ideas off each other frequently and he’s really receptive to these ideas, but he also helps hone me in and makes things realistic.”
McQuinn’s role largely focuses on students’ time and experience outside of class.
“I always say that as much as you learn in the classroom, you will learn other skills by getting involved — for example, becoming a leader of an organization, getting involved with service learning, working on leadership skills, learning soft skills,” McQuinn said. “With those opportunities, it is my responsibility to share those with the student population.”
When McQuinn completed his undergraduate degree, he became one of the few students to receive St. Cloud State University’s Excellence in Leadership Award.
Roughly 16 years later, McQuinn is planning a new student leadership development program at Augustana to award and recognize students who gain leadership skills within organizations on campus.
“In a perfect world, I would like to not only teach leadership skills but also recognize those leaders that are going to be the leaders of everything tomorrow,” McQuinn said.
The program’s goal is to examine different scenarios and types of programs that can be used at Augustana, such as leadership and diversity, leadership and goal setting and leadership and resume writing. McQuinn also wants to improve the process of students establishing an organization on campus.
“It’s still in its early stages,” McQuinn said. "I told myself that I wanted to take my full first semester here to learn what Augie is and what those needs are and then propose something next semester to be implemented in the next academic year.”
McQuinn said he is enjoying his time at Augustana and is excited to start implementing leadership opportunities for students in their college careers.
“I encourage people to come to my office and meet with me, and I want to make sure students have that out-of-classroom experience that is just as impactful as the in-classroom experience,” McQuinn said.