Carolina People: Aaron Bachenheimer
Executive Director of Off-Campus Student Life and Community Partnerships
9 years working at Carolina
What’s a typical day like in your job?
I would break down a typical day into a few areas: communication, education and advising, networking and
outreach. I do a lot of communicating through email and phone. I connect with students, faculty, staff, community partners, local agencies, nonprofits and municipalities. We are trying to build a robust online presence, so a lot of my work is on social media and two different websites. Through the education and advising piece of my job, we help students navigate living off campus. Through networking and outreach, we do a lot of neighborhood relationship work. I try to connect the University and the community at a student life level.
How does your work support Carolina’s mission?
The work that I do helps address the basic needs, such as living and safety, of students so that they can do the things that they came here to do intellectually. The University is also a public institution, which means that we have a clear responsibility to the public and the surrounding communities: Chapel Hill, Carrboro and beyond. I support the public in terms of students’ influence and impact in the community and trying to make those positive experiences for all involved. We serve our public by supporting our students’ lives off campus.
What do you like most about your work?
I really enjoy engaging with people, both students and community members. My dad was on the faculty here for 40 years. I grew up running around on this campus and living in this community, attending public school and cheering on the Tar Heels. For me, this is an ideal job because I get to connect both my professional life working in student affairs and higher education with my love for this institution and this community. I get to help students find a home in a place that’s been home and is home for me.
How did you come to work in this position?
I previously worked as an assistant director in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership at Appalachian State University. I came to Carolina as a doctoral graduate assistant in what is now called Student Life and Leadership and continued that work in the Dean of Students office. In the 2010–11 academic year, I was hired as the senior associate dean and director of fraternity and sorority life and community involvement here at Carolina, a position I held until January of this year, when I was hired to this position.
What would others be surprised to know about your job?
I think a lot of people are under the impression that I spend all day putting out fires and dealing with problems. In actuality, most of my job is actually fun and good stuff. It’s helping students be successful, helping people figure out solutions to problems and helping people have a great experience with the University or in the surrounding communities.
Carolina People is a regular feature in each issue of the Gazette that asks one of your fascinating colleagues five questions about the work they do for the University. Do you know someone with an interesting or unique job at Carolina? Please email your suggestions to email@example.com and put Carolina People in the subject line.