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Hello, my name is: S. Leone Dick

Artist. Construction-project manager. Comic-book superhero. Here’s how she’s been all these roles and more.

By Cory Phare

May 30, 2018

 S. Leone Dick Chief of Staff to the Vice President for AdministrationS. Leone Dick is a Coloradan through and through.

That includes the things she loves about her home state, such as biking on the Cherry Creek trail to a brewery one day and heading up to snowboard at Winter Park the next. And for the chief of staff to the vice president for administration, that eclecticism mirrors her smartly festooned workspace, a nontraditional path of her own into higher education and a strategic approach to getting things done.

Your office is a really warm, welcoming space – what’s your motivation here?

Your space is important. Sometimes, especially during the busy moments, it can seem like we spend a lot more time at work than home. So by including things like artwork that I’ve created – like a batik, consisting of dyes and wax on fabric of a veiled woman – or pieces that my mom has created, it adds a totally different vibe.

It’s nice to fuel creativity and create a cheery environment. Being right here with Steve (Kreidler, vice president for administration), we want to make sure it’s a welcoming environment – and not feel like people are walking into a principal’s office!

I see you’ve got a whiteboard with some interestingly named projects. Could you tell me about that?

I like to put major projects up there to visualize what’s coming up and map out what needs to get done – scheduling timelines, critical milestones and who’s responsible for what.

We’ve also got three leadership groups named the Avengers, Agents of Shield and Frontrunners. This came together when we assembled staff to meet regularly and wanted to call the process something more engaging than “administrative leadership.” And since George (Middlemist, associate vice president for administration/CFO) is a huge comic-book fan, we took that angle.

In general, we try to infuse as much fun into work as we can; you’d never hear anyone around here refer to them as “directors’ meetings.”

How did you get connected with MSU Denver?

My undergraduate degree was in construction management, and I was actually one of the project engineers for the Student Success Building. That’s how I came to know MSU Denver, and have been building relationships ever since I started working for the University in June of 2014 as a project manager for different initiatives.

It’s been a great experience – Steve is a big-picture thinker; when he’s asked to contribute to a lot of different conversations, that doesn’t allow much time to connect the logistical dots to execute the vision. That’s where I can help; it’s about how we can keep projects moving forward and support campus needs.

What is the relationship between construction management and higher education?

They’re dissimilar in a lot of ways – construction sites are run by a set schedule; you live and die by the plans that are given to you by the designers and engineers. Everything’s a prototype in higher education; it’s much more collaborative here. I love working on projects like the brewing program’s efforts, seeing their expertise and helping them move their objectives across the finish line. 

How does this affect what it means to be a Roadrunner?

In construction, there’d be someone else in line to build a project if we didn’t do it. At MSU Denver, our output is our students – and there’s not really other schools that do what we do. If we didn’t exist, there’d be a gaping hole in the higher-education landscape for the students we serve.

That’s really apparent at events like Commencement, when it all hits home; it’s natural to get lost in the hustle of every day and become separated from that. Like President Davidson said, we’re defined not by who we exclude but who we include – that’s what it means to me to be a Roadrunner.

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