March 26, 2008
Ever since Katrina slam-dunked New Orleans, Tulane's student-athletes have been active as volunteers, helping the city rebuild. Now a new program, the Devlin S-aFE (Student-Athletes for Education) Center for Leadership Development, is focusing and coordinating the Tulane athletics department's community outreach efforts.
"Over the years our student-athletes have learned the qualities and attributes of leadership," says Lindsey Stineman, director of the S-aFE Center. "We want our student-athletes to go into the community and help to teach students these qualities through play and competition."
Under Stineman's direction, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has developed a leadership training program with Tulane student-athletes serving as mentors for students at charter and public schools in New Orleans.
"Before S-aFE was established, outreach was done mainly through the efforts of individual teams and personnel," says Rick Dickson, athletics director. "Now we have a home base that will coordinate and develop an entire range of associations and relationships."
"Our student-athletes will be going into schools and tutoring students in math and reading," adds Stineman. "We also want to bring the students onto campus so they can get an idea of what college is, and for them to see our student-athletes at their most comfortable moments — on the field, on the court, on the track."
The S-aFE Center, which was dedicated on March 12, owes its existence to the generosity of Robert M. Devlin, a Tulane graduate and member of the Board of Tulane, and his wife, Katharine.
"The program started with conversations with Bob Devlin," says Dickson. "Through the years Bob has been a great supporter of Tulane and Tulane athletics."
The Devlins' $1 million gift permanently endows the Devlin S-aFE Center for Leadership Development, establishing a multifaceted program that formally incorporates service and community outreach into the student-athlete experience at Tulane.
Among the many activities being planned for this semester is a Shadow-a-Student-Athlete Day, in which students come onto campus and follow individual student-athletes through a typical morning, attending classes and walking around the uptown campus. Later, the students will attend a game.
"It's going to be a good learning experience for everyone, including our student-athletes," says Stineman.
Hurricane Katrina was a profoundly life-changing experience, according to Dickson. "For most of us, what we learned was that it is not enough just to put yourself back on your feet, but you have to lift up others around you," he says. "And in our case, the natural fit was our student-athletes and their capabilities to influence youth."
According to Stineman, "You couldn't ask for a better city in which to implement a program like this, and you couldn't ask for better student-athletes than we have here at Tulane. They have great leadership abilities, and we want to bring those out in them, and also have them bring those qualities out in the youth of New Orleans. It's a great opportunity, and we're excited to get it going."
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org