Stacy Downing Named New Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development Office
She’s no stranger to UC, beginning as an undergrad, earning a doctorate and previously serving as assistant director for the AACRC and Ethnic Programs and Services. Now, her career serving students at UC is taking a new direction.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Stacy Downing started out as an undergrad psychology major at UC in the early 1990s – now, she’s heading the office that coordinates more than 300 student organizations at the University of Cincinnati. Downing was named director of the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development, an office dedicated to promoting student involvement and leadership on campus.
The office is welcoming new and returning students with a special open house from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 27, outside on the MainStreet corridor in front of the Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center (SLC). The special welcome back for students promises games, giveaways, music, food and a scavenger hunt. In case of rain, the open house will be held on the 400 level of SLC.
Downing, a native of Marion, Ohio, who now lives in Western Hills, previously worked at UC’s African-American Cultural and Research Center (AACRC) in roles including associate director of the AACRC and program director of the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program, one of the nation’s oldest ethnic scholarship programs for academically talented students of color, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Downing herself was a Darwin T. Turner scholar when she received her bachelor’s degree from UC in 1996. She achieved her master’s degree in criminal justice from Xavier University, and returned to UC in 1998 to join the staff at the AACRC.
In 2002, she entered UC’s Urban Educational Leadership doctoral program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, finishing up the program in just three years, to graduate in 2005. Her dissertation focused on the academic and social integration of first-year African-American students at predominantly white institutions, and what motivated them to stay and complete their degree or drop out or transfer to a different institution. During her tenure at the AACRC, she was one of the creators of UC’s Transitions program, a student-support program aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates of African-American students.
She says for every student, the key for student success is developing connections to UC outside the classroom. Her office helps students find a direction on how to get involved.
“In every part of my research for my doctoral degree, I found that for students to be successful, they can’t just go to class. They should be integrated socially and academically into the university,” she says. “They need to develop real-life applications outside the classroom – leadership skills, communication skills, skills on conflict resolution and on interacting with other people. Students who are just coming to school and going to class are not getting the full university experience,” she says.
Downing says her vision for SALD is to make it the “hub of student energy and excitement. I want students to be more involved with the office and with implementing new programs and offering new ideas.” She’s also exploring how the office can provide more programming specifically aimed at commuter students, so that they, too, can become more involved on campus.
Her advice for new students entering UC this fall? “What I tell new students and their parents is, get connected. UC has a wide range of support services. Get connected with an office that provides support, whether it’s Disability Services, Educational Services, the AACRC, SALD, or the Women’s Center. There’s someone on staff here to support you, and once you get connected, that’s going to be instrumental to your success as a student.”