Although she stands only 4 feet 11 inches tall, her role on campus is large.
The spunky and energetic director of student and parent activities, Caddie Coupe, organized Welcome Week and oversaw through the drastic transition to Wildcat Week.
Despite some pushback and opposition from the campus community, Coupe and her student-leaders focused on making each event about the students rather than the transition itself.
The advancements were inspired by the understanding that students attending the university are not “one-size-fits-all.” Wildcat Week creates options for students of all different personalities through over 70 different activities. Some for introverts looking for small-group coffee time or for an extrovert seeking interpersonal energy from Mentor Group Olympics.
From “Thrive” or “Awake” to simply, “Wildcats,” Coupe said the transition discarded the idea of a theme to recognize that every student comes in with a different experience – whether from a legacy family, or not seeing ACU at all.
Out of the new events, Coupe’s favorite was ACU Fest, in which incoming students interact with some of the clubs on campus. Although the tailgate was rained out this year, the excitement of Wildcat Week and positive attitudes of leaders continued through the ‘90s dance to show freshmen all of the things they can look forward to being involved in.
Another driving force for the in the change was the desire to become a “strengths” campus. This year during Wildcat Week, students’ top five strengths were listed on their lanyards, and icebreakers in mentor groups were based on the StrengthsFinder personality traits.
Deeply rooting her identity in her strengths: discipline, connectedness, futuristic, strategic and relator, Coupe said, “I’m very proud of my top five, they explain my drive, being able to see what could be and executing large projects.”
Looking forward, Coupe said she is excited for freshmen and transfer students to acquire a sense of ownership at ACU as she directs Family Weekend for the fourth year.
“In those first four weeks, we transition to – ‘this is my bed, this is my room, this is my home.’ Having parents get a first-hand glimpse of that is really exciting. Hopefully that gives parents and families the opportunity to feel like their son or daughter is in the right place.”
The driving force for the love of her job is the pressure she feels to have something for everyone. Her desire is to meet students where they are, but also challenge them to step out of their comfort zones. Showcasing “how awesome ACU is, how cool we are” is something Coupe said she takes seriously.
Although she serves the incoming class, she regularly works alongside upperclassmen like Megan Fridge, a junior marketing major from Houston.
“Caddie is so strategic about planning a variety of events that include people of different interests, majors and backgrounds,” said Fridge, who works year-round with Coupe planning events. “That has always been so important to her. I don’t think anyone would think of her as a traditional boss. She’s super fun, leads by example, and puts in 100 percent every day so that the students that work for her are motivated to do the same.”
Whether handing out extra food vouchers during Block Party, speaking in front of students at a congress meeting, or, as most of the time, watching her hard work pay off behind the scenes, Coupe shows her passion through her optimistic and leading attitude.
“The most important aspect of my job is that I’m mentoring students to make wise choices, to think outside the box, to push boundaries in a good way,” Coupe said. “That when I work with students, I’m encouraging them to be their best selves and give their best selves to this campus. I really want the students to shine, not myself. Wildcat Week – I don’t need to know the freshmen to know who I am. I want the freshmen to know our upperclassmen leaders and they can learn about me later on. I think student to student is so much more valuable than staff to student.”