McLelland: New Job Is Real-World Test of Her Preparation

  • July 17th, 2013
  • in News

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Lane McLelland, director, Crossroads Community Center

Looking back after six months in her new job as director of Crossroads Community Center, Lane Busby McLelland, the former assistant director of New College, is excited by her new responsibilities, which she sees as an opportunity to apply all her academic and life experiences to the challenges facing higher ed today .

McLelland holds a master of arts in ethics, a master of divinity and an interdisciplinary bachelor’s in international studies and conflict management. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Social and Cultural Studies Program in the College of Education.

“I loved what I did in New College, but coming to Crossroads gives me the opportunity to develop my fundamental areas of interest even more,” she said.

Crossroads Community Center provides leadership at UA in cultural programming and intercultural education by developing and hosting a variety of cultural events and dialogue programs that build community among the diverse groups on campus. It pursues its mission by engaging the energies of faculty, staff and students in the creation, implementation and evaluation of intercultural experiences.

McLelland sees her new job from several points of view. “I love working with people of different perspectives and backgrounds and seeing them work together,” she said. “Whether I am introducing domestic students to international students or convening stakeholders on campus for dialogue about controversial issues, I love seeing people build relationships across the differences they previously believed divided them. Because I’m coming from a program (New College) that values interdisciplinary work, I believe in bringing multiple perspectives to solving problems in society. My life has been interdisciplinary.”

Before beginning a teaching career at Shelton State Community College in 1999 and taking a position teaching full-time at UA in 2008, McLelland worked in various roles in the fields of religion and ethics. During the mid-1990s she worked in Atlanta for the Health Care Ethics Consortium of Georgia at the Emory Center for Ethics and served as a chaplain in the Olympic Village during the 1996 Summer Olympics.

All of these jobs, she believes, prepared her for her new job. “My work in New College always emphasized placing students in embedded community-based learning opportunities,” McLelland said. She said she looks for projects to get students and community members talking and working side-by-side. “I’ve done a great deal of work in the last two years to get students living and working in the community to help community partners solve problems together.”

In addition to her academic and service credentials, McLelland served as a United Methodist minister at Chinese Community United Methodist Church in Oakland, Calif., and Trinity United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa. Also, she taught at Tunghai University in Taiwan and later worked with China-related organizations in Washington, D.C. As she implements custom-designed cultural programming for maximum effectiveness for the University, McLelland draws on her life experiences of living in working in cultures dramatically different from her own life growing up in Alabama.

McLelland said she missed teaching during her first semester at Crossroads, but is developing a new course that will also advance the mission of Crossroads. “I hope to offer some special courses that meet the goals of the academic departments and the goals of Crossroads: critical thinking and deliberative-dialogue,” McLelland said. This fall she is teaching Through the Open Doors: Sustained Dialogue for Courage, Change, and Progress.

Fifty years ago dramatic confrontations called for extraordinary courage for change and progress to occur at the University of Alabama. In 2013, the challenges are somewhat different, but the skillful dialogue for changing social norms resistant to progress continues to demand courage from student leaders, according to McLelland. “Today, deep courage is needed to talk honestly with each other and listen respectfully to those with whom we profoundly disagree. The next fifty years will call for students who can lead their peers in meaningful exchanges for positive action together.”

Her new course will examine the theoretical foundations of the student body politic as it has developed over the last half century. Comparing these to emerging theories for a 21st century Politics of Relationship and using the Sustained Dialogue Model for engaging opposing viewpoints, students will then explore the potential of this five-stage dialogue-to-action process to build on-going working relationships across historical divisions on campus.

In appointing McLelland, Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, said, “Crossroads Community Center provides important intercultural leadership and dialogue programs for the campus and communities both near and far. We are most fortunate to have someone of Ms. McLelland’s background, credentials and motivation in this position.”

McLelland succeeds Dr. Beverly Hawk, who has joined the Center for Community-Based Partnerships as director of program services. McLelland received her bachelor’s degree from UA and both graduate degrees from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

For more information on Crossroads, call McLelland at 205-348-6930 or email her at