2016-2017 Faculty/Staff of the Year: Mike Duignan


Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor

“The man behind the curtain” is an apt term to describe the role and character of Director of Campus Activities & Programs Mike Duignan. In the nearly three years he’s been here, Duignan has formed connections with an overwhelming number of students, aided partially by his job title as the director of 120 clubs and organizations.

Duignan’s office is centrally located in the Campus Activities & Programs (CAP) Center, where he acts as the office assistant and office coordinator. As the advisor of Common Ground, Duignan attends, advises, and participates in a student-led five day diversity retreat where topics like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, class, and gender are challenged and discussed.

“I would say there’s the family you’re born into and the family you create. So what I try to do is, especially with Common Ground and Uptown, is create a family atmosphere in the sense that we have to lean on each other and respect one another,” Duignan said.

Additionally, he is the co-advisor of Bucknell Student Government, where he is in contact with more than 55 students regarding student government decisions and projects. A few of his other active roles in the University include being in charge of Fall Fest for the past two years, assuming the role of temporary advisor for “We Brake for Nobody,” overseeing the Involvement (IN) Network, and acting as the advisor for the Black Student Union.

Perhaps one of the most fulfilling aspects of his job is the connections he makes, Duignan said. He mainly focuses on having professional but caring relationships with his students, holding them accountable for their tasks in organizations and clubs while remaining cognizant of their efforts to balance other responsibilities. Duignan has had many students visit his house for dinner with his family in efforts to further foster a quasi-family connection.

“I like to know students as people; I’m big on stories. I tell lots of stories and I like to hear stories, and the only way you can do that is by taking some time and building those relationships,” Duignan said. “I spend more time with students than I do with my family at home, you have to know who the person next to you is, and not have it be a bunch of strangers. That’s the way to move forward as a group. Bucknell has made strides toward this. It’s our job to get to know people.”

As a student at Utica College, Duignan played an active role in his educational community and always enjoyed having an impact on community members. He recognized that he didn’t feel passionately about a career in the corporate America, so he pursued a variety of internships in higher education. One of his friends told him about the position at the University, and since then he has immensely enjoyed being an active member of the campus community.

“My grandmother always told me you have to be an active member of your community, and everyday at the end of the day, if you made your community better than it was the day before then you did your job right … so even on the days when I’m exhausted, when I’m really tired, there’s always times you question, did I do the right thing, am I doing the right stuff?” Duignan said. “Hearing those stories, having the community’s faith, and people reaching back out to you empowers you and keeps on reinforcing those moments of when you do have doubt, that you’re in it for the right reasons and you’re doing the right thing.”

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