Heather Harbach begins as new VP of Student Life

Heather Harbach, pictured above, is the new VP of Student Life.

Courtesy

Heather Harbach, pictured above, is the new VP of Student Life.

CAROLINE CHRISTENSEN, News Editor

Although Heather Harbach – the new vice president for student life – has only been at UNI for a few short weeks, she already feels at home in UNI’s tight knit campus community.

“I just love how open and friendly the community is,” Harbach said. “Coming into something new and different, bigger and further away from my home was like, ‘what am I getting myself into?’ 

But every interaction I’ve had with someone has just been wonderful and this feels like a place where I belong.”

As vice president for student life, Harbach oversees numerous departments, from the Counseling Center, Career Services and Student Accessibility Services to Maucker Union and the Student Health Clinic. Earning her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Higher Education Leadership, Harbach is a first generation college student and aims to help new students adjust to college life.

“I remember as a first gen student walking onto campus, and my parents and I didn’t know anything about the environment. After they left I was like, ‘okay, I’m at this campus with 20,000 other people and I have no idea where I’m going.’”

She continued, “I had to learn from my mistakes. I had to be willing to ask questions and lean in even when it was very scary.”

In her new position, Harbach aims to help students navigate college life in whatever ways possible.

“To me the goal of a student life division and the profession overall is to help students achieve the goals they came here to achieve,” Harbach said. “We are making sure that those barriers are removed for them and there are services to support them in their journey to meet that goal.”

She continued, “I want to ensure students have that holistic, educational and life experience while they are here at UNI.”

Harbach has dealt with several challenges throughout her professional career, but is ready to face any impending obstacle in stride.

“Whenever I see a problem I see an opportunity. I don’t say that lightly,” Harbach said. I’ve seen many challenges in my career and confronte many problems and I’ve said okay, now is our time to evaluate the concern, evaluate the experience and data and make an informed decision on how to fix the problem.”

Harbach also notes how UNI is very strong in its mission to help students, and will strive towards assisting students in any way possible.

“What I have seen in my short time here is this community is amazing. It’s supportive and a community that is very dedicated to the mission of supporting students and making sure they are achieving those goals. It’s a community that is very welcoming and it’s a place that is primed for future growth. That’s something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Students may see Harbach frequenting UNI events with her family and two daughters: Hazel, age six, and Reagan, age nine. She encourages students to reach out, say hi and introduce themselves.