Leslie Knope and Why I’m Recruiting Her to Student Affairs:

By Joshua Wilson


I recently decided to pick up a new TV show on Netflix. I didn’t want a drama or action series, I needed comedy in my life. I’ve heard good things about Parks and Recreation so I went with it. Into Season 3 ladies and gentlemen and I’m not disappointed. There are characters on this show that I find hilarious! But to pull from one character Leslie Knope played by Amy Poehler I think her passion and poise are elements we should be bringing to our student affairs roles.Pulling in the student affairs references, I’ve decided to recruit Leslie to student affairs.


If you’ve seen even one episode of the show you would see that Poehler plays a character that has passion for her job. Her passion shows in everything she does including her efforts to motivate her team and to continue pushing the office’s and the city’s agenda forward. It’s a TV show there are many things she does that would not fly, don’t get me wrong. When I think about the ideal student affairs professional, this is the exact energy we should be providing to our teams in my opinion. Passion for students and for the programs and services we provide. We need to showcase passion for the department’s and the university’s mission.


She generally doesn’t disappoint. Where not perfect by any means, it’s her spirit for the city of Pawnee, IN that carries into every aspect of her life. From staff meetings to special projects and from search committees to public forums she provides an air of professionalism and inspiration among her staff, friends, and as a city representative. It’s her ability to follow through with projects and work until the job gets done. We also have to maintain this poise in student affairs if we are going to be successful in showing our worth to the University and helping the University provide effective services for students.

Stand Alone:

One major factor of the show is that the Parks and Recreation department in which Leslie and her staff serve, within city government has fought to stand out among their peers. Their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed because characters like Leslie are vocal and energetic about the work they do. For the field of student affairs I do believe that this is the responsibility of all, from graduate students to seasoned professionals. In my opinion student affairs departments that do so are better known on campus for their work which is crucial with concerns to the University’s governance and evaluation.

  • An example: When asked “What do you do on campus?” instead of answering with a simple response, fully explaining our role and just what that means to the University.
  • Assessment: Should I say anymore? Numbers speak loud. Stories speak loud.
  • See the Picture: What are the University’s goals? What are your department’s goals/ outcomes? What are your direct goals/ outcomes and how does it relate to the University’s mission/ goals/ outcomes?

Maybe this is a great summer project for all of us in how we can strive for passion and poise in our work. Also, how we might be able to help the division of student affairs stand alone on campus.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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