How to help your Housing and Residence Life staff prepare for fall 2022 and beyond
By: Dr. Christopher Silva
A successful school year requires thoughtful planning that starts well before summer approaches. Yet far too often this planning is paused (or even halted) to address routine work, staffing challenges, emergency situations, and other timely items.
Trust me, I get it. In my early years as a director of student housing, pressing issues drove my to-do lists so I could put out fires before they spread. Then I realized something important: My work (and the work of my colleagues) had become almost exclusively reactive.
While this reactionary approach led to improvements in how we managed incidents, late night emergencies, and the barrage of inbound communications that followed university announcements, we weren’t getting ahead.
Our limited time, energy, and resources were being tied up in putting out fires or looking for smoke that we rarely found time to sit down and strategically plan for the year ahead. Only when we started carving out time to plan and prepare, were we able to get (and stay) ahead.
Now getting ahead might feel easier said than done, especially with the past two years being spent reacting and pivoting. With the return of a sense of normalcy and high hopes for the year ahead, it’s prime time to stretch our strategic planning muscles.
Housing and Residence Life staff might find it helpful to start with these simple and brief steps:
Jot down everything that is on your mind without censor
Identify a 1-hour block of time on your calendar within the next week and place a hold for “Fall Planning” to flesh out your ideas (and encourage your team to do the same!)
Add “Fall Planning” to the agenda for your next staff meeting to start discussing and planning as a team
Develop an action plan that includes a clear timeline, roles, and responsibilities
Another strategy I find helpful for getting ahead is listening to what other professionals in the field are thinking about and preparing for. Often they’re addressing similar challenges, and listening to them raises ideas and considerations I hadn’t thought of yet.
Prepare Your Housing & Res Life Staff
If this sounds helpful to you, I hope you’ll consider joining our virtual national conversation I’m moderating on Thursday, March 24 at 3 p.m. EST / 12 p.m. PST. Crystal Lay (Former Director of Residence Life at CU Boulder), Courtney Godding (Director of Residence Life & Housing at McMurry University), and Stephen Apanel (Director of Housing Services at Bucknell University) will share what’s on their radar, steps they’re taking to prepare, and practical strategies for institutions looking to get and stay ahead.
What should be on your radar ahead of fall 2022
Practical ideas for getting and staying ahead
The role of effective communication and how to easily enhance your comms strategy
How institutions across the US are preparing
This promises to be an insightful event that'll be beneficial for teams large and small. If you're interested in joining, you can save your spot using the button below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Christopher Silva (he/him/his) has nearly 20 years of experience working at higher education institutions, supporting student learning and activities, guest services, sustainability programs, online/distance education, fraternity/sorority life, and more. Most recently, he served as the Director of Housing at American University where he was responsible for the operations of a residential community of 4,200 residents and $50 million in revenue. He has also worked at the University of Denver, Hamad bin Khalifa University, University of Nebraska, and Utah State University and served on the ACUHOI board as the Director of Business Operations & Practices and the Chair of the Future of Housing Taskforce.
Dr. Silva received his Bachelor's degree from Utah State University (International Studies) and Master's degrees from the University of Nebraska (Counseling/Student Affairs) and Harvard University (Environmental Management). He also holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Denver. He currently serves as the Director of Campus Experiences at Full Measure and, as a native of Brazil who spent most of his life living abroad, calls both the US and Qatar home.