Leading the Pack: After 30 years, Wilson still inspired by students

Leading the Pack is a regular feature that highlights faculty and staff members who go above and beyond to fulfill SIU’s Mission. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured, fill out our nomination form.

Thirty years is a long time to do anything. For Jenise Wilson, however, those three decades at SIU have been an evolving experience with one constant at their center: students, and the university’s relationship with them.

“I have seen many, many changes here at the university. One thing that has remained the same is our commitment to students,” said Wilson, who currently serves as chief academic adviser for the College of Engineering. “I have always believed in our mission statement and have tried to convey that to all the students I come in contact with.”

Working with students always

In her current role, Wilson supervises and trains the academic advisers, support staff and student employees in her unit. She also works directly with undecided and pre-engineering students, as well as those in the Electrical Engineering Technology program.

She serves on the college’s Student Support Team and assists with articulation agreements between the college and community colleges, international institutions and institutions without engineering programs. Many times, she is called upon to represent the college at special events, including New Student Orientation and Weeks of Welcome.  

Working with colleagues, many of whom she admires greatly, is special to her, Wilson says. The students, however, remain the center of her attention, helping them handle or resolve any issues or concerns that might interfere with their success.

She also works with and reviews those students who might not meet the standard admission criteria, helping the college look at them in a more holistic way to determine whether they have what it takes to be an engineer.

“Rewarding experiences at SIU will have a lasting effect on a student’s life,” Wilson said. “We must foster an environment where all students are welcomed, included and feel empowered to pursue their dreams.”

Three decades of service

Wilson started with SIU in 1989 as office systems specialist in the Department of Forestry. She continued her education, earning a master’s degree in education at the university and beginning her career in Student Services soon after.

In 1998, she became an academic adviser for the College of Education and Human Services, before becoming coordinator of teacher education admissions and field experiences in October of 2007. She moved to the College of Engineering in 2011.

Wilson also has found time to serve the university in other ways. She served on the Chancellor’s Scholarship interview team from 2012 to 2018, as well as a graduation ceremony volunteer during that time. She’s also been involved in Saluki Startup.

A record of community service

Outside the university, Wilson also volunteers her time at the local NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast and at Project Upward Bound. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, she helps put on programs such as Breakfast with Santa, while doing service for those living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS or domestic violence. She’s also involved in helping the American Heart Association, increasing breast cancer awareness and the mother-son dance at Carbondale elementary schools.

Along the way, she has watched SIU grow and change with the times.

“Helping students to accomplish their goals and being able to provide a safe place where students find encouragement, support and resources is what I consider the most important aspects of my job,” she said. “I also enjoy the collaboration and close working relationships that have developed with colleagues and coworkers all across campus.”