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Finding direction




Edie McCracken, director of Fort Hays State University's Memorial Union, is looking forward to students returning to campus.

McCracken came to FHSU two years ago as assistant director of the union. As assistant director, she served as adviser to the University Activities Board, coordinated the Encore Series and oversaw the Center for Student Involvement.

She received a bachelor of science degree from East Central University, Ada, Okla., and a master of education in higher education administration from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Before coming to FHSU, McCracken worked at Pittsburg State University for 10 years.

She was named union director in early July.

Most of the changes she has in mind as director are internal and won't be apparent to those using the facility.

"Having a year without a full-time director showed us some things where we could be a little more efficient in what we do and could depend on our student workers as well," McCracken said.

Bill Smriga resigned as Union director in August 2011. A national search followed.

"We definitely wanted someone who could connect with students," said Shana Meyer, vice president of Student Affairs. "She's a creative, high energy person. So much education happens outside of the classroom, and she's a good mentor to students.

"We're excited to see how Edie moves the union forward," Meyer said.

Two positions, assistant director and coordinator of diversity affairs, are open in Memorial Union. McCracken said she hopes to fill the assistant director position by the first of October.

The new assistant director will be responsible for the Encore Series, but McCracken hopes still to be involved.

"One of the things that drew my attention to FHSU was the opportunity to work with that. It's such a great thing to have in this size community that exposure to the arts."

The union relies on 20 to 25 students each year to help make everything run smoothly -- from custodial work, to event setup and office work. There also are two graduate assistants.

"It helps them pay for their school (and) helps them pay for their living expenses," McCracken said.

A group of student managers work in the evening and are responsible "for what's happening in the building in the evening -- making sure policies are being followed and taking charge if there was an emergency."

Students gain experience, knowledge and skills outside of class to put on their resumes.

"We really see (that) as important working here at the union," McCracken said. "I'm excited about that."