Coffee With...Nora Clark-Giles

We talked with the inaugural assistant vice president for student health and well-being about the importance of well-being to the whole campus and some of the ways she practices it in her life.

Nora Clark-Giles

Q: What set you on your career path?
A: It was really an accident, but it started when I was getting my master’s degree at Binghamton University in public administration. I happened to see a job posting for a coordinator of student success and retention. I had a very difficult time with transition [to college], and I did not feel supported. And I’m like, That exists? That’s a thing? I just kept growing in the field of higher education with different career opportunities. 

Q: Why did you join TU?
A: When I saw the opportunity at TU in student health and well-being, I knew from my experience and all my engagements with students that that is central to their success. It’s the entire campus community’s experience that lends to the well-being and the success of students. I was really attracted to that concept because I know that that’s the truth. I came to TU from the community college space, which is a completely different experience. Students come from all different backgrounds, are all different ages. You get to know a student for about a year and then life happens and you don’t see them. Very rarely was it because of academics: They were struggling financially. They had lots of family issues. They had child care issues. They had food issues, mental health issues, transportation issues. All these things were barriers to their success.

Q: Where do you see potential for TU to grow in this area?
A: Dr. Vernon Hurte, the VP of student affairs, talks about synergy. We need to move away from collaborating on individual events to having synergy between every area on campus, where wellness is built into everything we do. That’s going to require a university-wide effort. Everybody will feel it because well-being is about inclusiveness. It’s about belonging, and it’s about making sure that no one is left out. That has so much to do with how you feel in a space. 

Q: What are you reading?
A: I like to habit stack. I can wash the dishes and listen to an Audible and clean the house and drive to work. I’m on a minimalist journey. I listen to a lot of folks talk about how to reach that point in your life. I also like true crime. And I’ll listen to some podcasts on fitness. I listen to podcasts that talk about being your best self, whether it be juicing or gut health or inflammation and brain health.

Q: What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
A: Probably how down to earth I am. I don’t like a lot of drama. I don’t need a lot to feel happy. I really appreciate what some might feel like are basic things in life. I’ve had a lot of opportunity in my life to reflect on my blessings. I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had professionally, but I’m also grateful for the things that I have not had to go through. My father used to always say, a smile is a form of charity. You don’t know what that might have done for somebody’s day. I want to be a good person at the end of the day and make an impact however I can in whatever space that I occupy. That’s my goal.