Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Appoints Veteran Student Life Leader Joseph Cassidy as Director of the Rensselaer Union

September 12, 2011

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Joseph Cassidy
Courtesy of the University of Dallas

Joseph Cassidy, dean of student life at the University of Dallas, will join Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as director of the Rensselaer Union, it was announced Sept. 12 by Timothy E. Sams, Rensselaer vice president for student life. A 25-year veteran with broad expertise in the field of student affairs in both public and private universities, Cassidy is an experienced leader, student life advocate, educator, and mentor. Cassidy will join Rensselaer on Oct. 24.

“The director of the Union is a leadership position that is critical to the advancement of Rensselaer as a top-tier technological research university with global reach and impact,” said Sams. “The Rensselaer Union is a student-run, self-supporting, and self-governing body that organizes, manages, and finances student activities. Joseph Cassidy brings a wealth of experience, a proven record of success, and a deep commitment to students. My colleagues and I are excited that Joseph will be joining us. Our community welcomes him with open arms and great expectations, and we look forward to working with him.”

Rensselaer is one of about 20 colleges and universities in the United States that operates using a student-run structure. Today, the Rensselaer Union’s multimillion dollar budget supports more than 200 clubs and organizations and intercollegiate athletics.

“I am thrilled and honored to join the Rensselaer community,” said Cassidy.  “I have visited over a hundred student centers across North America, and have never been more impressed than I am with the Rensselaer Union program. The students are particularly impressive. I look forward to working with them to enhance the Rensselaer student experience, and continue the proud tradition of a vibrant, student-managed Rensselaer Union.”

Cassidy joined the University of Dallas in 2010 as dean of student life. He was the chief student affairs officer for the Division of Student Life, and also served as a member of the President’s Cabinet. During his tenure at the university, Cassidy was responsible for launching a series of programs and initiatives. He created a student advisory board,  and established open office hours, re-framed resident life staff training and expectations to be more student-focused, revised the student judicial process involving key faculty and student leaders in the process, and increased faculty involvement in new student orientation.

Prior to joining the University of Dallas, Cassidy worked for nearly 10 years at Dartmouth College, serving as dean of student life. While at Dartmouth, he also held a number of administrative and leadership positions, serving as associate dean of student life and director of the Collis Center and Student Activities Center, respectively. Cassidy is credited with creating a more welcome and inclusive environment in the campus center, which resulted in increased usage and a plethora of vibrant social programs. He also directed a collaborative, multi-departmental effort to reduce negative consequences associated with high risk alcohol use, through a hard reduction approach and emphasis on health and safety.

In 2003, Cassidy also served as acting director of Dartmouth outdoor programs. He was responsible for leading the largest and oldest collegiate outdoor recreation program in the country, through a strategic planning process that increased staff morale and productivity.  

From 1987 to 2000, Cassidy served as the director of the LaFortune Student Center and Student Activities at the University of Notre Dame. He was responsible for supervising a staff of 25; oversaw a $3.5 million budget; and managed four facilities: a student union, a 600-seat theater, a multipurpose recreation facility, and a campus pub. During his tenure, he also developed a seasonal book store annex that grossed more than $200,000 annually, and grew an annual student body fund-raising project, which now sells over 125,000 units of a single T-shirt design with gross sales close to $2 million.

Cassidy earlier served as the hall director and coordinator of student activities at Lehigh University from 1985 to 1987, and as a graduate assistant in the student union at Eastern Illinois University and director of student activities at Spalding University.

Cassidy is an active member of the Association of College Union International (ACUI); the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA); and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

Cassidy received his MBA from University of Notre Dame, a master’s in education from Eastern Illinois University, and his bachelor’s from Bellarmine University. 

Contact: Jessica Otitigbe
Phone: (518) 276-6050

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