"A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines."
– Frank Lloyd Wright
Volume 74 | Issue 3
May 2006

Pro-File: Regina Howell, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Q. What do your job responsibilities entail?

A. As the director of the Student Center, I am responsible for multiple areas. The Student Center is comprised of meeting rooms, an information desk, administrative offices, the campus bookstore, the Faculty Student Association, a swimming pool, tennis court, basketball courts/gymnasium, fitness center, and locker rooms. Student organizations fall under my responsibilities as well. Finally, I serve on multiple committees (commencement, orientation, facilities use, etc.).

Q. What would your staff, colleagues, or students say about you?

A. I think that others would say that I am demanding, but fair and easy to get along with. I have high expectations, and I am constantly challenging others to build upon their skills, strengths, and abilities so that they can progress to the next level.

Q. What’s one innovation or project of which you’re proud to have helped implement?

A. I have been working to refine and restructure our Student Center student employee team. I want them to reflect a professional, customer service-oriented team. We recently purchased staff shirts for our desk staff, and there has been a very positive response from our student staff and the people who visit the Student Center. An updated and revised student employee handbook will be completed soon. We are also putting a structured rewards/recognition program in place. It has been really great implementing some new ideas to create positive change with this important group of individuals—it is because of them that we operate as a facility.

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working in the profession?

A. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that you have to set priorities, but be flexible and adaptable. In a profession that is so fluid, you just never know what you are going to be dealing with on any given day. It is so important to have a task list, but to leave room for the unexpected and have the ability to switch gears to deal with any number of situations that may arise.

Q. What advice do you have for future generations of union professionals?

A. I would advise future generations to use their resources and to always seek the opportunities. Resources include the many incredible professionals who have paved the way for us, associations like ACUI and publications like The Bulletin, higher education journals and papers, [and] our students and colleagues. The opportunities are always around us. There is always an opportunity to improve a relationship, to make a difference to a student, to make a program better, to volunteer for a conference, to become a better professional.

Q. Is there anything else you would like ACUI members to know about you?

A. Well, I am a Gemini and like to take long walks on the beach—just kidding! What I would want them to know is that I want to be as much of a resource and inspiration to others through my actions as so many professionals in this field have been to me. I want to continue to grow and challenge myself to always improve and stay current in our theories and practices. If I can ever assist our colleagues and students, I hope that someone will reach out to me.

Name: Regina Howell
Title: Director of the Student Center
Union: Student Center
Institution: SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Years in the profession: 3