Bardonner shines during crisis

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photo of Amanda Bardonner, junior Student Government president

Amanda Bardonner, junior Student Government president, addresses students, university officials and the media at a Student Government meeting. Photo by Neil Andersen for University Communications.

In less than three years, Amanda Bardonner has gone from planning high school dances to helping determine the fate of a major university program.

The Wausau, Wis., junior is double majoring in international business and marketing, working part-time at a department store and serving as Student Government president.

As president, Bardonner was at the center of a recent campus-community discussion about a budget-balancing proposal to cut Husky Athletics programs such as football.

Throughout Fall Semester Bardonner was an active voice at public meetings and in private councils with the university's most powerful leaders. Ultimately, she helped manage a student fee-increase referendum that resulted in three years of additional funding for Husky Athletics.

“It was an experience,” said Bardonner. “It was intimidating to stand up in front of 300 angry community members saying “Save our football program” and help them settle down and rationalize the situation.”

The position description for Student Government president calls for 20-hours of service a week. But, as former Student Government president Michael Jamnick knows, the rigors of student leadership often demand 60-plus hour work weeks.

“Amanda handled the situation very well,” said Jamnick. “It was certainly taxing with a lot of exposure and media coverage.”

“Dealing with the negative aspects of the position, it is sometimes difficult to remain positive, but she remained fair,” Jamnick said. “It is a credit to her by remaining open and honest with community engagement.”

Said Bardonner: “I don’t really enjoy the dramatic side of the position, but I do like the public service and helping with the results of students’ needs."

Students turned out for the Nov. 15-17 referendum in record numbers, approving an additional $601,344 a year for Husky Athletics, for fiscal years 2012 through 2014.

“The student turnout was fantastic," Bardonner said. "It speaks to the increased student engagement on campus this year. Our student body understands the issues and has a vested interest in the future of this university.”

Bardonner was student government president and class president at Wausau West High School and used that experience to dive into student life, running for student government her freshman year.

“That was a little intimidating,” said Bardonner, the lone freshman running for office. “I remember giving my speech and shaking, I was so nervous.”

She was elected senator-at-large and hasn’t looked back.

“I knew she would do a good job before I was done with my first semester as president,” Jamnick said. “You kind of look around and ask, “Who would be a good fit to take the reins?” I immediately thought of Amanda.” 

- Mike Doyle

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