by GABRIELLA DEPINHO, Asst. News Editor
Residence Life is finding itself in a transitional period during fall move-in, one of the office’s most stressful times of the year, due to vacated positions and shifts within the department.
One position that will be empty after Aug. 31 is director of Residence Life as Andrew Weingarten is leaving the school to pursue a professional opportunity in Portland, OR.
Weingarten is excited for the move professionally and personally, being that he has family in Oregon.
Including his time as interim director of Res Life, this fall would have made it his fifth year at Manhattan. For what is both a short and long period of time, Weingarten has accomplished a lot in his position.
“In my time as director of Residence Life, my key focus has been enhancing the student experience in the residence halls,” said Weingarten.
Some of the work that Res Life has done under Weingarten’s direction includes upgrading campus facilities, implementing new laundry machines, changing the campus entertainment system, creating the Common Interest Communities, redoing the residence hall programming model and moving the room selection process online.
Weingarten’s accomplishments impacted student experiences with Residence Life and the functionality of the department as a whole.
Dean of students, Michael Carey, spoke on Weingarten’s impact across campus.
“He cares about the students and he cares about the people he works with. He’s a really good person,” said Carey, “His presence – he lived on campus – has been really really helpful. Him being present isn’t really a tangible thing, but it’s had an impact.”
AJ Goodman, associate director of Residence Life, noted that on top of everything else Weingarten did, Weingarten brought a “strong work ethic” to the department.
With all that he did see accomplished in his time here, Weingarten acknowledges there is always more that could be done.
“That work never ends. There’s still a long list of things to be done,” said Weingarten, “We’ve really taken a hard look at our efforts towards assessment, being able to pull data from all the key processes that we’re doing. How are we doing them? What are the students getting out of them?”
“Last year we spent the whole year doing an extensive self-study on our department. We even had an external reviewer come in and she spent two days with us on our campus, looking at us and giving us recommendations. We got a lot of great feedback from that. There’s always work to be done.”
For now, Dean Carey, will be serving as the interim director of Residence Life.
Carey said, “The director of Residence Life reports to me so I already have a pretty good sense of what’s going on in that office. It’ll be more work for sure, but it shouldn’t change what I’m doing too much.”
Though Carey is ready to serve as interim director, the search for a new, full-time Residence Life director has started. The school has a committee that has been searching and has been looking at an estimated 40 resumes for the position.
“Whoever comes in has to be student centered; the students come first. We obviously have issues in our buildings so it has to be someone who can deal with all different departments and really serve the students when it comes to maintenance and things like that,” said Carey. “If they’re not student-centered, they’re going to have a hard time surviving at Manhattan.”
While the school searches for a new director of Residence Life, the school is also searching for a new area coordinator of Horan Hall.
Ryan Bunts who served the former area coordinator of Horan Hall until this summer now works in Operations as an assistant director for Residence Life. Operations is all of the behind the scenes work, such as, making students have lottery times and making sure the housing portal works.
In the same vein of progress, Bunts has began working to improve the student experience with Residence Life.
Bunts said, “I definitely want us to be more transparent with things, with students specifically. In myHousing, I’m trying to put more things on that so students can see more stuff regarding their housing.”
Students can now easily request to be put on the waitlist of another dorm building and departments such as IT and physical plant can now comment and update the status of the work order. These new features are to help streamline the processes and make things more transparent to the students.
Though Bunts will miss the more hands-on aspect of being area coordinator, he is excited to see who comes in and takes over the position. Bunts plans to be involved in their training
“Whoever comes in needs to be organized, needs to communicate well and needs to be flexible and open to change and things happening last minute,” said Bunts, “When I would come into work at 9am I would have an idea of what my day would look like and then 15 other things would come up and I would have to drop all of that.”
The school is in the hiring process for all of the vacant positions and hope to see the positions filled by September, or maybe even sooner.
As for now, the department is still committed as ever to being there for students and doing their best to improve the student experience.
“Right now we’re holding it together with the staff that we have and everyone is picking up extra work that we have to but you definitely can feel that we don’t have a full staff. It’s definitely been more challenging since we don’t have the numbers right now, but it’ll be a good change,” said Bunts. “We’ve had a consistent staff for a few years now so it’ll be good to see what new faces can bring to this department.”