KUDOS: Housing & Residence Life

Housing & Residence Life
KUDOS: Housing & Residence Life

KU's University Relations (UR) office has implemented a new staff and department recognition feature. KUDOS, Kutztown University's Dedication to Outstanding Service, focuses on university administrative departments and the individuals within it, giving the campus community a better look inside many of the working areas on campus.

This week, we sat down with the Housing Department and the Residential Life Department to get an inside look at the dedicated individuals who take care of our students by creating a safe environment in which they can live and grow as individuals.

UR: Can you introduce yourselves and tell us how long you've been with KU?

D: I'm Desiree Reasoner, director of Residence Life, and I've been with Kutztown for 20 years.

K: My name is Kent Dahlquist, I'm the director of Housing and Dining Services, and I've been at Kutztown for 27 years.

UR: What is your department's role and mission at the university?

K: Housing is responsible for assigning our students to live in the residence halls, suites and apartments. We are also responsible for the facilities, maintenance, renovations and new construction, which we work in collaboration with the KU Facilities Department. We are also responsible for establishing the housing fees; we work very hard at trying to keep the lowest housing fees possible while balancing the budget. The on-campus residence halls have an impact on recruitment and retention, so maintaining a well-priced facility while offering amenities that meet and address the needs of today's college student is very important. We have a number of off-campus developers that we compete with for our students' housing needs. 

D: Residence Life takes over once the students are settled in and begin classes. Our staff ensures students are living in a space that's fun, welcoming, safe and inclusive by implementing and upholding rules and regulations, as well as assisting students with various issues and conflicts. Residence Life also provides students with opportunities for growth both academically and personally by offering programs that allow them to get involved with fellow students in the residence halls and other individuals and departments throughout the campus community. Some of these programs include Bears at Night, The Golden Paw program and the Bear Tracks Workshops.

UR: Can you explain your department's staff make-up and responsibilities?

D: Residence life has six full-time professional staff, including myself. The other five professional staff members all report directly to me, and they supervise the other staff. Our staff is composed of assistant directors Alison Adams, Charlene Kilpatrick, Stacey Green, Hannah Hotalen and Melissa Moon. Alison and Charlene are Assistant Directors of Hall Operations. They provide direct supervision to the Resident Directors in the running of the residence hall. Stacey Green is the assistant director of Programming. She provides the training to the Community Assistants in the area of our programming Model, represents the department on several campus committees, and serves as the Bearfest Advisor. Hannah Hotalen is the assistant director of Special Interest Housing and Leadership Development.  She works with all the Special Interest Housing, oversees our Hall Council Model, advises the RHA and manages the Golden Paw Experience Program. Melissa Moon is the assistant director of Student Conduct and Resident Support. She is the liaison between our department and Student Conduct, and does all the training in the area of Student Conduct, and meets with those students who are in crisis and serves as a resource. Residence Life also has 14 graduate students who manage the residence halls, 265 undergraduate staff, 98 community assistants, 12 Assistant Resident Directors and 150 desk receptionists. At full capacity, residence life has 180 desk receptionists.

K: In addition to myself, housing has two associate directors: Jason Garcia, associate director of Housing and Facilities, who works with the residence hall facilities, furniture, maintenance, renovations and new construction, and Amanda Fretz, associate director of Housing and Dining Services, who takes care of all the housing applications, assignments, room changes, room selection and marketing. There's also our assistant director of Housing and Dining Services, Cody Moyer, who provides support in housing and dining services.  We also have two clerical assistants: Sharon Housel, who works with Dining, and Shirley Leverington, who works with Housing.

UR: How does your department serve students and the campus community?

D: The Residence Life department serves as a 24/7 resource for students that creates opportunities for interaction and growth outside of the classroom. We help students with conflict resolution and offer a variety of resources, including those related to mental health. Residence Life strives to help students develop a sense of belonging within the residence halls and throughout the greater campus community.

K: Housing serves the campus community by assisting departments with guest housing and athletic camps in August, as well as provide break housing for students that might not be able to go home or live too far away to travel during the breaks. We're also implementing a new program that will allow new employees moving to Kutztown to access apartment rentals while they make the transition to KU.

UR: What are the points of pride in your department?

K: Housing takes great pride in servicing our students. We have implemented a number of new software programs that are more interactive with our students and meeting their needs.  One such program is My College Roomie, a new roommate selection program. This program gives our students more control in identifying potential roommates from year-to-year.

D: Residence Life has a great staff. I'm proud of the work they do on the front lines working with students. I also take pride in the programs we offer, especially the Golden Paw program. Golden Paw is one of the only programs that works with both first and second year students, with second year students having the unique Golden Path program, whereas many other colleges only have programs for freshman.

UR: What would you like people to know about your department that they may not know already?

K: The Housing Department does a lot of outreach to the university community as a whole. Our success (or lack thereof) at maintaining quality environments for and building strong relationships with our students has a direct impact on KU enrollment. We ensure not only the safety of our students, but also that living on campus is convenient for them so that they'll be satisfied and can focus on what's important.

D: I want everyone to know that we genuinely care about our students. There are some policies that we have to implement for safety reasons. Sometimes we have to do difficult but necessary things for students' well-being, even if they don't see it that way.

UR: How can the campus community learn more or become involved with your department?

D: Students can become involved by utilizing the resources and programs in their residence halls, like Hall Council, and bringing issues to our attention right away. Don't be afraid to talk to us! Even though we have an open door policy, right now more parents call than students - we'd like that to change. People can also become involved by applying to be a staff member. We're always hiring desk receptionists.

K: Like Des said, students can get involved by approaching us about anything, especially if it'll help with student or the department's success. We have conducted a number of information interest sessions for the university community over the years that introduce others to the Housing Department, what we do, how we do it and how other departments can get involved in on-campus life.

UR: What's your favorite thing about your KU experience?

K: I enjoy the people I work with. I originally thought I'd be living down south by now, but KU has a genuineness that makes you want to come to work and interact with students and other staff and faculty members every day. Kutztown and Kutztown University are more than a home and a place to work - they have become facets of my life that define me in many ways. Kutztown University is an amazing place to work!

D: I grew up here. I started at the graduate level, had my children here, and began my professional career here. All three of my children grew up here and now they're coming to KU. I attribute a lot of my growth and development as a person to the relationships I've built here at KU, and I'd say that's the best part of the KU experience.

UR: What does "It's Good to be Golden" mean to you?

K: To me, "It's Good to be Golden" means celebrating our campus community, getting involved and assisting with making KU a better place for our students and those that work here. Being an active member and helping our students be successful.

D: I think every individual has to determine that for themselves. Once they do, they can capitalize on the right university resources to help them achieve it.  

KUDOS is published twice monthly by the office of University Relations. All issues can be found at www.kutztown.edu/KUDOS. For questions or more information, please contact University Relations at UR@kutztown.edu.