Dunbar’s emotional intelligence, outreach boost student success


In just two short years, Gabe Dunbar has made a tremendous impact at BGSU, not only for nontraditional students, but across campus, particularly in the arenas of engagement and retention. Dunbar was named the 2019 Rookie of the Year at the Administrative Staff Council spring reception May 21. Along with the award, he received $100.

Awarded to staff who have been with the University for at least one but not more than three years, the Rookie of the Year recognizes an administrative staff member who has played an integral part in implementing an idea, program or procedure designed to enhance or improve student recruitment, retention and/or engagement. Dunbar has been a program coordinator in Nontraditional and Military Student Services (NTMSS) since May 2017.

Dr. Michael Brown, sales and event marketing manager with Conference and Event Services, nominated Dunbar or the award.

“As part of his official position at the university, Gabe has personally connected with nontraditional students (those 23 or older, military, or student parents) who are taking a different approach to college,” Brown wrote. “Sadly, as a result of challenging life circumstances, these students generally struggle with persistence and graduating in a timely manner. Gabe has spearheaded a personalized approach to engaging with these students in a uniquely compassionate and empathetic manner.

“Through each step of the process of recruiting and acclimating these students to the University, Gabe is masterful at connecting with each student, understanding each student’s story, and providing each student with resources tailored to their unique situation. Gabe has ensured that our orientation process is inclusive of nontraditional students and even invites students to join him for a coffee chat upon entering BGSU.”

Dunbar also seeks new avenues to help him work in behalf of nontraditional students, such as joining Administrative Staff Council within a few months of his being hired.

“This demonstrates his commitment to the university at large and a desire to create connections for NTMSS across campus,” Brown said. “Gabe has also been involved with the Common Read committee, where he has advocated for the nontraditional student perspective and helped coordinate the author visit.”

Dunbar serves as a mentor in the Vanguard Community, which encourages male-identified students at BGSU to embrace and embody a progressive and positive paradigm of masculinity, as well as the assistant director of the SEARCH Learning Community, for undergraduate students from all majors, backgrounds and beliefs who are interested in the exploration of big questions, leadership development, social justice and close friendships. 

“I find myself extremely impressed by his multifaceted proficiencies for mentoring students, facilitating meaning-making conversations, and initiating strategic outreach efforts to marginalized and underserved students,” said Brown, who leads both Vanguard and SEARCH. “Gabe’s strong interpersonal abilities, commitment to diversity, and attentive listening skills make him exceptionally adept at connecting with individuals from a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and value systems.

“Gabe is a magnet for marginalized and underserved students who need an advocate or ally, but he also attracts some of the most visible campus leaders to himself and into his sphere of influence.”

Updated: 05/29/2019 03:33PM