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New UI associate director has big plans for student center

BY LILY ABROMEIT | SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following an early and unexpected resignation by the head of the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership in July, University of Iowa has taken a temporary approach in the process of finding a permanent position.

After roughly a monthlong search, a western New York native has been hired to fill the position for one year.

Dan Wrona, who has served in college-student involvement and leadership roles for nearly two decades, was hired after the departure of the previous associate director, Kelly Jo Karnes.

While Wrona plans on working alongside the UI’s 500 student organizations, for the time being, his primary focus will be on local fraternity and sorority chapters.

Bill Nelson, the director of the IMU and the center, did not go into much detail relating to Karnes’ leaving.

“Kelly Jo Karnes accepted another position at the University of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, so she left us the first part of July to accept that position,” Nelson said. “It’s just our protocol to fill vacant positions.”

Nelson also served as a part of the search team in filling the position.

“We had a search process that we went through and … we elected to not go with any of the final candidates from the search committee, and then we contacted Dan,” he said.

Wrona, who was hired on an interim level, intends to serve within the role until the Fall 2014 semester.

“Dan is, for all practical purposes, a temporary employee,” Nelson said. “So in an attempt to get some projects done this year and take advantage of Dan’s skill set, we elected to hire Dan for the year.”

Nelson said UI officials will begin looking for a permanent replacement next semester.

Wrona, who has worked in student affairs since his first year out of college, said that he will use his experience to create success in his new position.

“I’ve been, for the past 14 years, working with student organizations, fraternities and sororities, and leadership development in one way, shape, or form,” he said.

Prior to accepting the UI position, Wrona ran the Iowa City-based RISE Partnerships, which specializes in consulting and training for students involved in fraternities, sororities, and student life in general.

“It just made sense to tap into Dan as a resource here locally to help us,” Nelson said.

“We have some special projects that I’d like to utilize Dan’s special skill set for over the course of the next year.”

A few of these special projects involve working with the local greek community to make sure they are going in the right direction and combining three planning documents into one, Nelson said.

“One cogent document that really provides a roadmap to what we should be doing in terms of what our priorities are for the fraternity and sorority community,” he said.

Information regarding the three planning documents was not available as of Monday evening.

With the help of Wrona, Nelson said, the plan is to take a critical look at the UI’s fraternity community specifically, in order to bring about better gauge steps to make it more successful.

In part, this would include adding resources in every aspect of greek life.

“Kind of [focusing on] 360 degrees of support and how to employ that support to help our fraternities be more successful,” Nelson said.

Among those aiding in greek student success would include parents, greek house directors, and alumni advisers. 

In addition to focusing on these projects, Wrona said he plans to stay in line with traditions.

“[I will] make sure that everything happens as has happened for many years,” he said.

UI senior and President of UI Pi Alpha Phi fraternity John Hartnett has known Wrona since 2011.

At the time, he helped Hartnett and others establish the fraternity’s local chapter.

“He seems to know everything about fraternity and sorority life … his insight was instrumental to our success,” Hartnett wrote in an email. “I have witnessed his passion for greek life, and he challenges students to reach their highest potential.”

Hartnett also said he thinks Wrona is a good fit for the position.

“We were very fortunate to have had Dan’s assistance,” he wrote in the email. “The university is lucky, too. I would like to see Dan continue in this role.” 


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