By Jenna Fitzgerald | Copy Editor
In the fall 2022 semester, the IMPACT Living-Learning Center and the LEAD Living-Learning Center will merge, forming the IMPACT & LEAD LLC in Allen and Dawson Halls. Meanwhile, South Russell Hall will convert to a first-year community.
Dr. Ryan Erck is the current program director of the IMPACT LLC and the future program director of the IMPACT & LEAD LLC. He said the two communities have always been uniquely linked; the IMPACT LLC is sponsored by the School of Education, and the LEAD LLC is centered around a required introduction to leadership course that funnels out of the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership.
“We’ve always kind of joked that our programs are two sides of the same coin — so students that have a high interest in service, civic involvement, leadership in some capacity, education in some capacity, not necessarily just the classroom but generally and more broadly,” Erck said. “Students that pursue those things are often students that choose our respective communities.”
Dr. Terri Garrett, associate director for academic initiatives in Campus Living & Learning, said the IMPACT LLC and LEAD LLC are marked by an emphasis on service.
“Both programs are focused on making an impact, whether that’s through leadership or education or learning,” Garrett said. “Both programs desire to find students that are interested in that and then help them develop their skills and knowledge and awareness so that they can go out and become leaders and educators for the future.”
Because the IMPACT LLC and LEAD LLC attract similar students, Garrett said the fusion of the two communities offers the benefit of not having to choose between them.
“We feel that [the IMPACT & LEAD LLC] really reflects and honors the programmatic aspects of each of the programs as they existed when they were separate,” Garrett said. “If students were interested in community service or leadership, there’s aspects of that in both of those programs, so this merger allows students to have one option to choose from instead of feeling like they have to choose one or the other.”
While discussion on this change has only been in the works this academic year, Erck said action had to be expedited because of the approaching housing application deadline on May 1.
“The Division of Student Life recognized a number of those things, put together a proposal and then got the School of Education involved very early in the conversation,” Erck said. “So it’s all happened kind of very quickly, but it was apparent early on that all parties sort of agreed, ‘Yes, this is a very strategic and wise move.’ Campus Living & Learning really wanted to make sure that incoming students had the option to choose this new venture if they wanted to or go back and change their preferences if they wanted to.”
Erck said the IMPACT & LEAD LLC will feature a student leadership team composed of students from each of the previously separate communities.
“Our hope is that those students can kind of work together to figure out what worked really well from LEAD LLC and what worked really well from IMPACT LLC and how we can kind of capitalize on both of those things moving forward into the year — at least until we can redefine unique traditions or experiences that we want all students to have that are not just remnants of IMPACT or remnants of LEAD, but new things that the students co-create together,” Erck said.
The IMPACT & LEAD LLC will use “numerous programs and events that connect the in-and-out-of-class experience” to provide a community tailored to “students who desire to see their Baylor journeys make a positive and lasting transformation in the world.” While all first-year students will have to take the required introduction to leadership course, Erck said other details about traditions and programming are still in the works.
“We don’t want this to just be IMPACT 2.0; we don’t want this to be another iteration of LEAD,” Erck said. “We want this to be a new chapter in the life of these programs together moving forward. In terms of the values or goals, I think there’s going to be a continued commitment to things like service and leadership and civic involvement and education, but weaving those together into a nice-sounding mission statement or something like that is still sort of in the works.”