Humans of the U: Branden Dalley

“As I’ve spent time at the U over the past two decades, both as a student (undergraduate and graduate) and as an administrator, I have come to realize that higher education is all about a mindset. It completely changes how individuals perceive and interact with the world. Everything about my own mindset I owe to the pursuit of education and the process of being open-minded, thinking critically and pursuing new ideas and perspectives. Pursuing an education, as well as helping others to do the same, is one of the defining aspects of my life. In my current position as the director of the Student Union, as well as in the former positions I’ve held here on campus, I’ve been able to start initiatives and pursue projects that help students to accomplish their goals, overcome barriers to education and follow their passions.

One of the largest barriers to education is cost. Working at the Union, I’ve been able to spearhead the development of a scholarship fund for students for whom finances may be a barrier to their attending the university. The fund started small, with just enough capital to support one or two scholarships for students. However, today, many years after beginning the process, after hosting countless dinners, galas, events and receptions, we have an endowment and distribute $200,000 annually to students who otherwise would not be able to attend college.

Barriers to higher education don’t stop at just finances. Finding community and friendship can be a real challenge for students, and we want to tackle that as well. The Union is, at its core, a structure, a building. However, it is also a concept. It’s designed to be a place where everyone within the campus community can find themselves and feel a sense of belonging. It is a space that every student can visit, and hopefully, somewhere in the building, they will find their people. From the bowling alley to the meditation space, we hope that students will utilize the Union to form strong connections and friendships that will propel them to success not only during their time here at the U but long after they graduate and are pursuing other goals.

While I love the Union and encourage students to take advantage of its many services, I also encourage them to take advantage of the university’s proximity to nature and beautiful outdoor spaces. When I’m not working on projects and leading my team here, you can find me with my dog, exploring and enjoying the many trails, mountain views and amazing hikes that are so easily accessible here. We live in a wonderful area that combines a first-rate education and university resources with easy access to nature and outdoor activities. Nothing could be better!”

—Branden Dalley, director, U Student Union