Associated Students (A.S.) has a new chief of staff.
James Pilkington, 20, a junior economics major was appointed by A.S. President Abel Pacheco.
Pilkington is the first to hold this seat in the past two years as previous A.S. presidents chose not to fill the position, said Leanne Vincent, A.S. coordinator of student leadership. The chief of staff position is filled at the discretion of the standing president, she added.
“I just knew that from the very beginning when I first became president, it was something I was going to push for,” Pacheco said of his decision to incorporate a chief of staff on his team.
While this is a new role for Pilkington, he does have A.S. experience. Pilkington served as executive assistant of the cabinet last year and acted as the liaison between cabinet departments, he said. Pilkington also handled communications and planning for the officers’ monthly meetings with the California State Student Association (CSSA).
Pilkington’s duties will include various tasks such as interfacing between Pacheco, the university and the senate. Pilkington said his duties will depend on Pacheco’s agenda and “whatever he’s trying to present to the senate or whatever the senate has charged him with completing.”
“Last semester was my first at CSUN so I was still getting to know the place and the organization and the students and the cabinet,” Pilkington said. “I’m taking a bit fuller role in supporting the president.”
Pilkington said he transferred from Moorpark College last year and chose CSUN because he wanted to be close to home and because of the prestigious economics department.
While in Moorpark, he served as vice president of the school’s A.S. for the 2008-09 academic year, he said.
A.S. is more than an extra curricular activity for Pilkington. He finds politics and policy very interesting and he said he spends a lot of time following current events.
Being involved in A.S. is an experience that will translate to post-graduate goals, Pilkington said.
“I would like to be involved in corporate governance,” he said. “That’s the long-term goal.”
Pilkington said he interviewed for legislative affairs when he became involved with A.S. but did not get the position.
“I didn’t have a CSUN GPA,” he said. “So I was brought in as an assistant to the cabinet in a supportive role.”
Pilkington said that helped open the door to the chief of staff position because Pacheco noticed his work ethic.
“James is someone who impressed me from the very beginning,” Pacheco said. “He’s very, very thorough and detailed with his work.”
Pilkington also caught the eye of A.S. Vice President Conor Lansdale.
“I was shocked to hear his level of involvement at his previous community college,” Lansdale said through an e-mail interview. “But, I was also taken back by his motivation to seek out and get involved with CSUN’s A.S., even if only as a community member.”
Lansdale said Pilkington’s best assets are “his ability to think outside the box and to help students get what they want achieved even when people think it is near impossible to be done.”