What's Your Why: Dr. Mark Warner

mark warner

Dr. Mark Warner, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, got his start here in the Office of Residence Life as a Resident Adviser. Here's what he had to share about he experience as a Resident Adviser:

  • What was your favorite thing about being an RA? 
    • My favorite thing was having conversations with people in my hall and getting to know them as people and individuals; so establishing relationships with them. 
    • What types of leadership skills did you gain from being an RA?
      • Whew! A ton: How to deal with difficult people, how to organize and listen; listening was the biggest; the importance of empathy, the importance setting expectations and being consistent in what you did; being a communicator - learning how to communicate well with folks and being able to show you care.
    • Which of these skills have you/do you use on a regular basis?
      • Every single one of them. That’s what I loved about being an RA, in fact, I was just talking to somebody the other day about being an RA; talking about the transferrable skills that I use today that I learned back then. My girls actually call me the safety police, because I’m worried about outlets and I’m worried about all these things that we taught our residents to be worried about.
    • How would your peers describe your leadership style?
      • I think they would describe it as collaborative, consensus and relational.
    • How would you describe your leadership style and how has it evolved since being an RA/over the years here at JMU?
      • I’m much more of a servant leader than I used to be. Part of that was, when I first got into leadership roles I thought it was more about authority. I’ve discovered that it’s more about collaboration. You don’t have to be in front of the room and you can lead from wherever you are. The bottom line is the you’re leading to make someone else’s life better and that now that is at the forefront of how I lead.
    • In your opinion, how does serving as an RA prepare students for any line of work?
      • It teaches them a diverse set of skills, and skills that they need to be successful in the workplace. When I think about dealing with difficult situations and crises, being a programmer, a counselor, an administrator, it doesn’t matter what path and all those are beneficial and important.
    • How did being an RA enhance your life as a JMU student?
      • It got me connected with the institution, and provided a sense of belonging for me. Many of my friends were RAs and Residence Life staff. I loved training, it was one the highlights of my year. It gave me a sense of purpose and belongingness. 
    • What's your favorite memory/instance while being an RA or HD?
      • I think my favorite memories were training. We had a week or two weeks of team building and getting to know each other and intense learning, but it was all about relationships and I just loved being immersed in that.
    • What's your best advice for someone who wants to be a mentor?
      • Be one! My best advice really would be, that all mentor relationships are mutual mentor relationships. You’re gonna learn as much from the person you’re mentoring as they will from you. To me, when you embrace that that’s when the true growth comes for both parties.
    • What type of person would you ay is a great candidate to be an RA?
      • Somebody who really wants to be one. They don’t care about the title, they don’t care about the millions of dollars they’re gonna make. What they care about is making a difference. I think that’s the bottom line.
    • If you could do it all over, with the halls we currently have, where would you be an RA or HD?
      • I’d go back to Hanson or White in a second! I might add air conditioning! But I’d go back to the Village, I really like the Village. Since I never experienced what it was like to be on a floor, it would’ve been interesting to see that. But I absolutely loved my experience, so I can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

By ORL Staff 

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 4, 2018

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