After four of the five assistant directors of residential life (ADs) left the college over a two-month period this summer, the Office of Residential Life has undergone an organizational restructuring that will create at least six new positions.
In past years, departmental duties were divided between a director of residential life, an assistant director of operations, an administrative assistant and five ADs, each overseeing a segment of campus in addition to other duties. Now, the office plans to have a director, two assistant directors, an administrative assistant, four newly hired community development coordinators (CDCs), an operations assistant and one to two part-time programming assistants. This will increase the office’s number of employees from eight to 11 people, a much needed change according to Senior Associate Dean of Students Dean Gendron.
“We just didn’t have the number of human beings that we needed,” Gendron said. “Everyone had to be a generalist and everyone had to know everybody else’s job. In this model, in addition to having more human beings, we’re able to attract people who have specialties and deeper interests in certain areas. We’re not interested in just maintaining orderly calendar events.”
The office is still in the hiring process for the operations and programming assistants, but they have hired four CDCs. The division of the campus into four geographic “portfolios” will be the same as it was before, but only one person will supervise the first-year quad, rather than two.
The operations assistant will focus on logistical and administrative work like answering students’ questions and managing housing assignments. The programming assistant, a part-time position, will help support the CDCs and resident counselors (RCs) with planning programming for their residence halls. Director of Residential Life Andrea Cadyma also hopes that they’ll be able to build up the office’s social media presence as another way to connect with students more directly.
Although the titles are different, there is some overlap in responsibilities between the AD and CDC positions. The CDCs will each still oversee a variety of residence halls and RCs, but will have different work schedules than ADs.
“We’re time-shifting the CDCs work hours to start in the afternoon and go into the evening hours,” Gendron said. “The purpose of this is to give CDCs the flexibility and sustainable work calendar to be in community with RCs and in community with residents in common spaces for the purpose of planning and implementing programming. That was not true of the ADs.”
The schedule is still up in the air, according to Director of Residential Life Andrea Cadyma, but the hope is that CDCs will work from the afternoon into the evening two to three days a week.
Gendron sees this change in work hours and the addition of an operations assistant as a chance for ResLife to collect more consistent feedback from students and close the communication gaps that have been present in past years.
“The former role of the AD was stretched very thinly because it required that they help us to a significant degree in planning the operational calendar of events that ResLife needs to execute,” Gendron said. “What we’re doing by creating this new layer is allowing the CDCs to refocus on their own communities.”
Cadyma sees the more direct line of communications between students, student staff, and ResLife as a chance to improve other aspects of the office’s responsibilities. “That opportunity will give us in real time, a better sense of what students want and need,” Cadyma said. “Seeing growth and improvement in that process means that hopefully we’ll be able to see that in the other processes we have in our office.”
Mackenzie Stein ’19, who has been an RC for the past three years, sees the addition of the CDC positions as a change that will allow ResLife staff to build better relationships with students.
“CDCs are able to spend more time and energy working directly with their RC staff and the residents,” Stein said. “This allows [both RCs and ResLife staff] to focus more on student issues that arise in dorms and all over campus, and also gives students more access to the staff as a whole.”
According to Gendron, the office had already been considering implementing this new structure, but the departure of four ADs spurred the change.
Gendron said that all of the ADs who left moved into roles of greater responsibility at other institutions and in some cases were also able to move closer to family.