A Day in the Life of …


TimmannDave Timmann

Director of Sykes Student Union
West Chester University
West Chester, Penn.

Educational Background:

SUNY Cortland
B.S., Recreation Education

SUNY Brockport
M.S.Ed., Higher Education 

Number of years in the profession: 25


What have you learned from the profession? 

I have learned that I am a good professional. This may sound odd but after 25 years in the field this became clear to me just recently after a series of meetings. I am good at what I do and care deeply for the students I work with. I have learned program development, logistical support, and the "art' of dealing with a wide variety of people. I have learned not to take myself too seriously. I am however the kind of person that will get 23 good or excellent responses from a program I did and also two poor ratings. Rather than feeling good about the 23, I stress over the two poor responses. I have learned to hone my sense of humor which helps in many situations. 

What inspires, motivates, or gets you excited about your job on a daily basis? 

Not to sound cliché but it is my students that motivate me. Not only seeing them on a day-to-day basis, but hearing about their lives interests me. The connections with the students that work with me and those I advise in student organizations inspire, challenge, and continue to make my days great. Do I enjoy going home at the end of the day? Absolutely, but I love coming into this job. Building operations with a little bit of programming on the side is FUN. What other job could I have where I can spend time just talking with students and the staff I work with, grabbing leftover food from some amazing catered event, see and plan concerts with up and coming talent, and "work/play" all day?

How did you arrive at your present job?

After working at two schools from 1981–85, I left the field of higher education for personal reasons and moved to Florida. I bought a lawn service and mowed lawns for two years. Once the "honeymoon" wore off, which was quickly, I asked myself what was I was doing mowing lawns? I missed union operations and I missed working with students. I also truly missed my ACUI connections. I began a job search and after a few rejections was fortunate to be offered the position at West Chester University. I have been here for almost 18 and half years.


Paper ClipsA Typical Day for Dave:

8 a.m.

After being out of the office on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 17 and 18, I came back to well over 200 e-mails. Most of the morning was spent reading and responding to as many as I could, while more e-mail flooded in. My problem is that I like to have the number down so my inbox is viewable on one screen without scrolling. I have become so back-logged with e-mail that I cannot get a handle on them. I have read them all but haven’t responded to them. They date back to early October. So much e-mail comes in throughout the day that many days I can’t even touch the paperwork on my desk. Most of them wouldn’t fall into the interesting category, except those pictures from the ACUI regional conference; they were interesting. A vast majority deal with room reservations or logistical needs related to reservations.

11 a.m.–Noon

The Student Program Activity Review Committee (SPARC) meets weekly to discuss student programs, set policy, and sometimes have fun. Today we discussed a pilot policy that was put in place early in the semester to address safety issues at our late-night programs. The policy changed the time that late-night events could end from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m., which at face value may not seem like much but had a dramatic effect on programs. After five “parties” this semester we determined that the attendance remained relatively high with the majority of the attendees being West Chester students. In years past the majority of attendees were college students from other schools. We’ll meet with key student leaders in two weeks to hear their views and make a determination on whether the pilot policy becomes permanent.

1:30–2 p.m.

I met with the Sykes Union Advisory Board executive committee to set the agenda for the Thursday meeting. One of our agenda items is setting new policy that restricts groups to two hours for standard weekly meetings. Currently, groups can go up to three hours, but space is limited and the number of student organizations has grown tremendously. We decided that if groups don’t leave on their own we’ll use air horns to blow them out … LOL. 

2–2:30 p.m.

I met with a student from Habitat for Humanity who is planning a coffee house program in December. Although she had done the program last year she was unsure of what to do and how to do it. We spent about a half an hour talking about funding, budgets, advertising, bands, the use of a back line, and other logistics. We left the door open for her to come back with any questions. I think she’ll be back soon.

3–4 p.m.

I sat in at the open forum for our university presidential search candidate. He was very interesting and is supportive of student affairs … whew, that’s job security.

5:50–6 p.m.

I met informally with my supervisor to catch up on things.

7–8 p.m.

I attended the Colleges Against Cancer meeting. I advise the group, and we discussed the Great American Smoke Out program. We collected cigarette butts from around campus and put them in a very large jar for people to see. We began plans for the spring semester with our signature event, the Relay for Life.



Updated March 19, 2009