North Central College - Naperville, IL

Gary Ireland: Challenging New Leaders

Formerly the College's dean of students, Ireland is now sharing his 25 years of experience by teaching graduate-level classes and mentoring graduate assistants. Most of the students in his fall term class are specializing in the new higher education leadership track within the master of leadership studies program.

"Many have worked in higher ed and this class gives them a framework to understand and talk about what they already intuitively know," Ireland says. He's also found out that some of the younger students in the class, like recent college graduates, really don't understand terms like "tenure." "Learning from someone who has many years of experience in higher education is one of the greatest things about this class," says Shawna Jansen '09 (below), a graduate assistant with the women's golf team. "He's a wonderful teacher who keeps things new and fresh every class."

In addition to drawing from his own vast experience, Ireland uses textbooks and syllabi from other similar courses. "This is not a 'pop management' class," he states. "The curriculum is drawn from higher education research and theory and the readings can be challenging." For winter term, Ireland will undertake another new course, College Student Development. He'll also oversee graduate students who are embarking on a practicum experience that's an option for leadership studies degree candidates.

Teaching graduate-level courses is a new challenge for Ireland, who in his previous role worked with the Student Governing Association, oversaw residence life and handled disciplinary situations. "I'm loving it," he says of his classroom role. "Most of my students have already put in a full day so you have to keep them engaged over four hours and come up with different activities."

Ireland draws inspiration from professors who mentored him at Loyola University, where he has worked on a doctorate in higher education administration. "They really helped me appreciate higher education as an area of study. You have to merge theory, research and practice so that it becomes something meaningful for a student." He's also excited to be filling a niche in graduate studies that's attracting new enrollment. "This is a unique program for the suburbs and I'm excited to be a part of it."

Shawna Jansen '09