News at WilmU

A Herculean Effort

Dr. Regina Allen-Sharpe

Dr. Regina Allen-Sharpe stays busy as Wilmington University’s AVP of Student Affairs and dean of students. Yet, she found the time to earn the 2023 NASPA Certificate in Student Affairs Law and Policy last summer, embarking on an intensive 23-hour residential program to enhance Student Affairs professionals’ knowledge of law and policy. 

“My plate is always full, so there’s no getting around that,” says Dr. Allen-Sharpe. “Also, I’m a lifelong learner. For me, it’s important to continue to learn and stay abreast of changes in my profession. The more I know, the better I’m able to serve students.”

The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) website calls the course “the only certificate program in the important area of law and policy tailored specifically for Student Affairs educators.” 

Led by law and policy professionals, the course has many objectives, including developing abilities to work effectively with legal counsel and with “different types and sources of law, legal reasoning, legal structures related to institutions of higher education,” the website states. Participants must master several competencies, including the ability to “demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate and inappropriate use of law as a tool for dispute resolution and to reason and communicate objectively regarding issues of law and policy.” 

A self-described nerd, Dr. Allen-Sharpe has always respected the law and is particularly intrigued with constitutional law. “It’s about knowing my rights and freedoms,” she says. “Throughout my career in corporate human resources and now higher education, I’ve always had to be knowledgeable about laws to ensure fairness and equity.” 

Peter Lake, a law professor and Charles A. Dana chair and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law & Policy at the Stetson University College of Law, led the program. Dr. Allen-Sharpe discovered his publications and books through NASPA and admired his contributions to higher education. In 2012, she started attending NASPA conferences, where Lake had led workshops. 

“For me, it’s important to continue to learn and stay abreast of changes in my profession. The more I know, the better I’m able to serve students.”

Dr. Regina Allen-Sharpe

“Through his webinars and workshops, I’ve come to learn a great deal about higher education and constitutional law,” says Dr. Allen-Sharpe. “So, last summer, NASPA offered an opportunity to train under Peter. I jumped at the offer and hoped to be selected.”

It took an application, an essay, and a letter from Dr. Allen-Sharpe’s supervisor, Vice President Dr. Tina Barksdale, but she got in. An assessment and a personal note from Lake revealed that she excelled.

“Regina, I want to thank you for what is obviously an assessment that results from nothing short of a herculean effort…I also observe that you work with an extremely large volume of material in a deep and complex way.”

Lake’s review compared Dr. Allen-Sharpe’s case analysis to one performed by a “seasoned disability law expert or advocate,” adding that she demonstrated “exemplary law, policy, and operational skills.” 

The certificate gave her a deeper understanding of public policy, the difference between public and private institutions, and how political systems affect higher education. “I walked away with the knowledge of critical legal and regulatory issues that affect my work as a Student Affairs professional,” she says.

“Dr. Allen-Sharpe has a passion for learning and is always eager to take on new challenges,” says Dr. Barksdale. “She is a remarkable leader, devoted to making our students’ experiences exceptional and nurturing her employees to thrive.”

After Dr. Allen-Sharpe was ranked in the “high competency” assessment category for the certificate program, Lake added one final thought: “What can you say to a participant who dedicates this kind of effort and turns in this type of deliverable? Bravo!”

—Maria Hess

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