Mark Willoughby, a two-time graduate of the Haslam College of Business (’06, ’10), has worked for the University of Tennessee since completing his undergraduate career, with positions in both undergraduate admissions and the Haslam College of Business. Because of his experience as a student, as an alumnus and now as a staff member, Willoughby understands the impact that students at the University of Tennessee have on the state and applauds the Haslam College of Business’ efforts to better prepare students for life beyond college.
“Since my time as a student, the college has invested time and resources in creating opportunities for our future business leaders to develop both inside and outside of the classroom,” says Willoughby. “These opportunities, some of which are privately funded, include Smith GLS, Heath IBEP, Venture LLC, Business Administration 100, and the Center for Student Engagement & Success.”
When asked why he chose a career in higher education, Willoughby credited it to a desire to create more robust opportunities and access for students at the university that he calls home.
“The opportunity to work in undergraduate admissions was the first job that began my career in higher education,” he says. “A former mentor, Fred Pierce, encouraged me to consider admissions, and I couldn’t be more thankful to him for that push and guidance.”
After a year in admissions, he was encouraged to apply for an academic advisor position in Haslam.
“That’s when I got my opportunity to work in Haslam,” says Willoughby. “Over the past 12 years, I’ve been afforded many opportunities in the college – working with Venture LLC, mentor programs, the college’s orientation program and student advising – that shaped my forward trajectory to my current role, a new position in the college and unique to business schools, of student engagement. In my current role, I get to work to create opportunities to engage students with the college community – student organizations, leadership opportunities, student communications and service activities.”
Willoughby now leads the college’s student engagement efforts as the director of student engagement in the Center for Student Engagement & Success, which is a component of the Haslam undergraduate business unit. The Center for Student Engagement & Success houses the offices of Undergraduate Professional & Career Development, International Programs & Study Abroad, and Student Engagement.
“The goal of Haslam’s Student Engagement Office is to create opportunities for students to develop a sense of belonging within the Haslam College of Business and to gain awareness and exposure to experiences and activities that will holistically develop business professionals who will have a positive impact on the world,” says Willoughby.
Under Willoughby’s direction, two student leadership councils have been created: the Presidents’ Council, which is made up of Haslam student organization presidents, and the Haslam Student Advisory Council, which is made up of students whose aim is to serve as a liaison between their classmates and the college’s leadership and assist in shaping much of the direction of student engagement in Haslam.
“Projects that have come out of or have been brought to these councils are student engagement fairs, the code of professionalism (working project), Haslam Network: Peer-to-Peer Mentor Program, Haslam Headlines and Haslam Career Weekly – weekly newsletters from Student Engagement and Undergraduate Professional & Career Development, just to name a few,” Willoughby says. “Currently, they are working to help shape the college’s new service initiative, Haslam Volunteer Impact and Haslam Helps VOLS, an upcoming philanthropy event to impact students on campus.”
Willoughby’s favorite component of his job is watching the transformation and journey of students from first year to graduation.
“Students are getting so many new opportunities in education from inside of the classroom to co-curricular activities to experiential learning experiences,” he says. “By the time they graduate, they have learned and experienced a broad range of activities that help them develop into future leaders. They have a passion and drive for success, and it is rewarding to see them achieve their goals and aspirations. In many instances, they did more than they thought they could or had imagined.”
Willoughby’s office is constantly working on developing new opportunities for student engagement and is currently focusing on creating opportunities to integrate alumni at different levels of the student engagement process. One way they are accomplishing this is by having members of the Haslam Young Alumni Board serve as mentors in the peer-to-peer mentorship program, Haslam Network, which engages board members with current juniors with whom they will work throughout their two-year term on the board.
“Our hope is to garner continued student interest in this program and continue matching students with alumni mentors that currently work in their field of interest,” says Willoughby. “Alumni-student engagement affords our students the opportunity to see firsthand careers and industries that they might pursue upon graduation. It gives them a glimpse into the future and is beneficial as they start the internship and career search.”
To assist with any of the efforts taking place in the Center for Student Engagement & Success, feel free to reach out to the office at 865-974-8901 with any questions or engagement opportunities for students.