Author: Dan Gaken
Dan Gaken is a student affairs administrator, author, and leadership trainer with 10 years of professional experience, primarily in the field of student leadership development. Dan builds environments where others are able to create something that excites them.

Patriotism on Display: Special Olympics Winter Games

The Special Olympics movement has a unique ability to capture our emotions.  I have had the privilege of being a volunteer with Special Olympics Michigan for the past seven years, the last five as a member of the Games Committee

Posted in Photography Tagged with: , , ,

Iowa LeaderShape Institute 2017

A week at the LeaderShape Institute is always impactful.  Being around young adults who thirst for a better world renews my energy.  It is a reminder that what we do as leadership development professionals matters. In January 2017 I was

Posted in Leadership Tagged with: , , , ,

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, But Don’t Feed the Trolls

Most every American family has their Thanksgiving traditions.  Rare is it that you realize in the moment when these traditions begin. For my family and me, Thanksgiving 2016 was one such time.  It was a warm feeling traveling with Erin

Posted in Uncategorized

Can We Diversify our Classrooms if We Fail to Diversify the Front of the Classroom?

The promise of higher education is great.  Perhaps more than any other factor, education gives people social mobility and creates opportunity.  However, our institutions of higher education are products of our society – and reflect its imperfections.  Groups marginalized in

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Traveling Naked

I’ve long been an advocate for traveling light.  I’ve been a follower of, 1bag1world, and others. I’ve learned an affinity for Tom Bihn bags that rivals my allegiance for much more meaningful causes.  Today, I’m not only comfortable traveling

Posted in Photography, Travel Tagged with: , , ,

LAS Returns to the Adventure Learning Center for Mentoring Retreat

On September 12th and 13th the entering Leader Advancement Scholarship (LAS) cohorts of 2015 and 2014 traveled to the Adventure Learning Center at Eagle Village for the annual mentoring retreat. Ninety-one students spend two days at the training center participating

Posted in Leadership Tagged with: , ,


If you’ve never visit the Motor City, you’re likely of the impression that it is one of the most forsaken pieces of real estate in the United States. From July 2013 until December of 2014 the City of Detroit was

Posted in Leadership, Travel Tagged with: , , , ,

Exceptional Practices: #ACPA15

Consider. Collaborate. Create. Commit. The collective energy of thousands of student affairs professionals is exciting. That was the case in early March when the annual convention of ACPA (College Student Educators International) descended onto Tampa, FL.  The 2015 conference examined

Posted in Leadership Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Welcome to the Family: #LAS2015

The Leader Advancement Scholarship is unique, no other college or university has a program as comprehensive as the Leadership Institute’s elite scholarship cohort. This program combines an academic Protocol with four years of sequenced co-curricular activities, a living learning community,

Posted in Uncategorized

Leadership Matters at CMU

Feeling valued is important. At some level, everyone needs to know that they matter. The Leadership Institute at Central Michigan University has certainly been valued differently through its existence. Born as a beloved project of President Leonard Plachta, the early

Posted in Leadership Tagged with: , ,