Thoughts from LaDonna Hayden...
If you’re reading this message, you must be toying with the idea of working at Lawrence University. Well, good for you! You must be a bright individual. Choosing LU as your future employer would put you in the ranks with many other intelligent and phenomenally beautiful people. In fact, by joining the LU team, you will become more attractive and smart…it’s just proven science. However, all joking and narcissistic commentary aside, deciding to work for Lawrence University was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
After working in Student Affairs for six years, I have had the opportunity to reflect upon my various professional experiences and I would like to share a little of what I learned. “Once you leave LU, you'll find out just how great it is here,” (Amy Uecke, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life), a true quotation I never really understood until I left LU for graduate school. Lawrence University is a place that fosters growth, respect, and consideration for others no matter their developmental level. With each student interaction, you will see how truly inquisitive and caring the student body is. As for the professional staff, you will never find a staff or faculty more willing to educate and support their students and have fun doing it! I learned Lawrence truly was a great and special place to work. The LU community really cares for students and demonstrates their passion of higher education on a daily basis.
Now the decision is yours. Moments in life arise where you come to a cross roads and are required to pick one direction or another. Choose wisely and know that this is a job that will allow you the opportunity to work with students and explore your professional interests at the same time. It is rare to find a position like this that gives you a chance to develop in residence life, as well as helps you garner experience in other areas of student affairs. Now that I’ve left LU, I can really say that being apart of the LU family was one of the greatest and smartest professional decisions of my life and I hope you have the same life changing experiences there as I did. With this position, your imagination is your only limitation, (well that, and zombies). So, it’s clear to see that if you’re still reading this, you’re good people and are in the right place. Call Amy and get yourself on the journey of a lifetime. Happy trails!
Best Wishes in all you do!
LaDonna Hayden (2006-2009)
Thoughts From Teege Metille
Like many people who attend OPE, I was looking for a school that would help give me a more complete understanding of the Student Affairs field. Eager to find a school whose mission closely matched my personal values, I was hoping that I would be able to find a work climate and university culture that were inclusive and encouraging, with an emphasis on the personal growth of both staff and students. I was fortunate enough to find just that at Lawrence University.
Serving two years as a Residence Hall Director at Lawrence University has proven to be the most beneficial opportunity that I discovered at OPE. I was looking for a better understanding of the Student Affairs field, and the collateral positions available at Lawrence are key to such enrichment. While managing the day-to-day operations of a Residence Hall and small house, I was also fortunate enough to serve as the Residence Life Training and Selections Coordinator. One of several positions available to a Residence Hall Director, my collateral helped me gain a more complete picture and comprehensive insight as to what a career in Student Affairs would really be like.
Lawrence University’s mission also mirrored my personal values. Focused on responsibility and personal growth, Lawrence boasts an environment of student involvement that I have not seen replicated on any other campus. From a very active student government to impressively high rates of student organization membership, the culture of campus has placed a deep emphasis on co-curricular participation that we all see as pivotal to a complete Liberal Arts education. There is an ethic of care at Lawrence that is seen in staff members throughout all departments. For example, I was pleasantly shocked when the Dean of Students was able to knowledgably talk to me about the progress and personality of the majority of students living in my hall. From President Beck on down, the entire campus staff demonstrates a desire to know students on a personal level that surpasses anyone’s expectations.
Lawrence University also places the needs of their administrative staff high on the list of priorities. Employees are encouraged to be actively engaged in creating change when needed, offering potential solutions whenever possible, and helping to merge their personal vision and goals with the position they hold. All of this is happening under caring, developmental and helpful supervision.
If you are reading this and considering applying to join the team at Lawrence University, I’d like to personally encourage you to do so. This job will help you better understand and enhance your own professional values, skills and abilities. Regardless of whether or not you continue in the Student Affairs profession, you will be able to look back at the benefits of your experience for years to come.
Kohler Hall Director, 2004-2006
Thoughts From Liz Matelski
When I graduated from college, like for most graduates, I faced a crossroads as to which profession to pursue. For myself, I questioned a future continuing in academia or following student affairs having enjoyed my three years as a Resident Assistant. I went to the Oshkosh Placement Exchange like so many other RHD hopefuls, not really knowing what to expect, clutching to a handful of interviews with universities I knew mostly through reputation. My very first interview of the weekend however, cemented my immediate future. I had wanted to find a full-time position as a Hall Director that offered me the opportunity to explore other areas within Student Affairs to help later professional decisions. I sought a private, residential, liberal arts university where I could be a part of educating students outside of the classroom setting. I desired a campus that communicated and cooperated with the surrounding community. I needed a Student Affairs staff that were not only respected colleagues, but were also my friends. Lawrence University fulfilled all of my requirements.
For two years I worked as a full-time professional at Lawrence University and from the top down, I discovered a respect one would not expect as a first-time professional. This was a school that really got it – an administration that understood the importance a residential campus plays in a student’s education. As a Hall Director I was not just a baby-sitter or someone to entertain students while they were not in class, but I was also an active educator. Through hall programming, Hall Council, Residence Life Advisor training and inservices, I could really make a difference in students’ lives. At Lawrence, I was additionally afforded the opportunity to experience areas outside of Residence Life through my collateral position as the Diversity Center Programs Coordinator. In this capacity, I could educate, empower, and engage an entirely different student-based audience outside of the residence halls.
What strikes me about Lawrence’s mission to students is the opportunities for education and personal growth. Learning truly takes place in and out of the classroom setting. Leadership opportunities, outstanding programming, civic responsibility and volunteering, empowerment, activism, diversity – all of these words and phrases actively describe a student’s experience at Lawrence.
There are not enough words to describe this outstanding campus community and the people who continually strive to make it better. At Lawrence, I had the opportunity to work with some of the most respected professionals in the field such as Nancy Truesdell, Dean of Students, and my immediate supervisor, Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life, Amy Uecke. These two women continue to serve as role models, motivators, and educators for both students and young professionals. The ten-week terms create an ever-changing campus atmosphere whose influence reaches beyond the classroom. The students at Lawrence are intensely involved with campus life and their studies with student leaders emerging from every hall and house. Because of the residential nature of campus and the cooperation between various departments, I quickly could call my Hall Director peers my friends, not just colleagues. Through yearlong professional training, you become intimate not only with your own hall staff and hall directors, but also the close-knit Student Affairs staff as well. My former residents, Hall Director friends, and former supervisors truly made my two years at Lawrence remarkable.
Although I am no longer in the Student Affairs profession and have chosen to pursue academia instead, I know that my work and experiences at Lawrence University will continue to shape my character and influence my future endeavors. The friendships and connections I have made at Lawrence will last me a lifetime.
As a future professor, I will apply my experiences as a Hall Director at Lawrence University knowing that college students should be afforded educational opportunities outside of the professional classroom. At Lawrence you come to realize that this vision is not just a theory, but that the Student Affairs staff makes it a reality.
Plantz Hall Director, 2003-2005
Thoughts From Chris Cook...
Rarely does a job come along that feels little like “a job.” Hardly ever does one find a position that is not only rewarding, fulfilling, and enlightening, but also paying. When I accepted a position in residence life at Lawrence University, I found just such a job. For so many reasons, I fell in love with the school, the people, and the work that I did there. In fact, I often needed to remind myself that what I was doing was really “work,” because it barely felt like it—pay days were just added bonuses to the work that I loved.
For starters, I quickly learned that I was not only a residence hall director, but also part of a team. I became a member of a supportive staff that truly cared about each other. It was this sense of teamwork that inspired me to try new things and be creative—both professionally and personally. I knew that I was not facing my duties alone, but rather standing beside six other strong, reliable, creative, and helpful individuals. Even more than being supportive, we challenged each other to see issues from a different angle, to view ourselves and our work in a new light. Coming from diverse undergraduate backgrounds, we gained a better understanding of the spectrum of services and practices within student affairs.
Speaking of student affairs, my days at Lawrence were filled with a broad range of experiences in all aspects of the campus scene. Because of Lawrence’s unique collateral program, in which hall directors also hold another part-time position on campus, I was able to explore another area of student life. I worked closely with the student programming board as the Campus Activities Programs Coordinator. In this capacity, I aided a group of very creative and ambitious students in planning activities such as coffeehouse musicians and comedians, outdoor “drive-in” movies, and a Mardi Gras celebration. Also, in my second year at Lawrence, I helped the group start a Battle of the Bands contest—reaching out to the Fox Valley community to find local bands to participate and sponsors to support the event. Plus, I had a lead role in the planning and implementation of a large-scale music concert on campus—Ben Folds.
Holding a collateral position offered me so much more than would just being a residence hall director. While I used many of the same skills in both positions, I also gained a new working knowledge of event planning and coordination, and was able to network with a whole different set of student services professionals—both at Lawrence and beyond. Even more, I learned that I really enjoy planning events and advising student programmers. I may not have discovered that passion had it not been for Lawrence.
Through my work at Lawrence, I became aware of the tremendous opportunity for self-enrichment and exploration. From the many student interest clubs to sporting and recreational opportunities to endless student musical and theatrical productions, students—as well as staff and faculty—have an amazing opportunity to get involved. I often found myself spending my “free time” just soaking up the energy of campus life and its events. At Lawrence, I found that there was a time and place to teach, and also to learn. I was able to do both; and feel I am stronger for it today.
The support offered by the residence life staff is amazing. There is no closer family than one that can share in the good times as well as the bad. This is the kind of “family” I found at Lawrence. To this day, I am thankful for the outstanding leadership of Amy Uecke, and the support of my peers. I was strengthened by the challenges I faced, enlightened by the opportunities I encountered, and encouraged by the support I received.
My time as an RHD at Lawrence will always be, to me, the job that felt less like “work” and more like a an unforgettable and enriching experience for which I will always be thankful. I may have received room, board, and a paycheck for my work at Lawrence, but the real sum of my “salary” was something that cannot be measured.
— Christopher Cook
Sage Hall Director, 2002-2004
Thoughts From Curt Lauderdale...
Lawrence University is a unique and very special place to me. I graduated from Lawrence in the vintage year of 2001 and called the campus home for a total of seven years: four years as a student and three years as a hall director. Lawrence is a place full of tradition and integrity and is committed to fulfilling educational opportunities.
One of the main reasons that I stayed so long is that the people are phenomenal. The students are exciting and challenging. They are highly invested in all aspects of their community. Students at Lawrence are truly concerned about, and genuinely invested in, their college experience. What’s even more exciting is, they want you, as a staff member, to be invested and involved too. The residential communities are diverse in size, theme, and population, but all are active and invested in the greater campus community.
Along with the students, the staff is truly outstanding. As a hall director you will work most closely with the Associate Dean for Residence Life, Amy Uecke. I have NEVER had a better supervisor. I am eternally grateful for the time I had to work with her. The tone she sets for the department is full of support, enthusiasm, humor, and integrity. The Associate Dean, along with the Dean of Students, and the many other student affairs professionals on campus create a caring, accessible, and collaborative environment that is continually full of new ideas and positive encouragement.
Lawrence is abounding with opportunities for everyone who steps onto campus. Students are given immense control of their campus environment. From hall council to the campus student government, students have a major voice in shaping the environment in which they live. As a staff member of Lawrence you are also given great opportunity. You have the ability to explore different offices through collateral positions and committee work. Lawrence is a place where you can explore many of your professional interests. People like to be able to say ‘yes’ to your requests, so don’t be afraid to ask! Your actions on campus, and interactions with students and colleagues, will make you an integral part of the current Lawrence community and a lasting component in Lawrence’s long tradition of exceptional campus involvement and residential life.
After my seventh year at Lawrence, I decided that it was time to move on to the next phase of my career. My time working with in the division of Student Affairs at Lawrence had such a positive impact on me, that I decided to pursue graduate study in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington DC. The skills that I developed and refined during my time as a Hall Director, specifically my supervision, managerial, advising and administrative skills, have prepared me extremely well for my graduate study.
There can be no better setting than Lawrence to begin your career. My time at Lawrence University has been one of the most positive experiences of my life. The positive impact you will have on the institution will be second only to the positive impact the institution and its students will have on you.
Curt Lauderdale Lawrence University ‘01
Thoughts From Corin Blanchard...
When asked what my most positive, rewarding work experience has been, I never hesitate to answer with my time at Lawrence. I worked for two years as a Residence Hall Director with a collateral position in Campus Activities Programming immediately following my undergraduate career. As a young professional, my experiences there offered me many insights, opportunities, and lasting relationships that far exceeded my expectations.
In searching for my next step after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree, I came to the conclusion that I was highly interested in student affairs as a profession, but was not ready to commit to graduate study at the time. I wanted a full-time entry-level position that would let me get my feet wet and help me determine where my future was headed. I couldn’t have had a greater opportunity than to work under Amy Uecke, who is an amazingly supportive and mentoring supervisor, and within the Division of Student Affairs at Lawrence, which is teeming with life, humor, and enthusiasm. If having a supportive, mentoring, flexible, and highly invested staff surrounding you is a priority, then Lawrence would be a great fit for you.
Lawrence University is the kind of school many people don’t believe exists anymore. As a small, residential, liberal arts college, Lawrence is reminiscent of the first institutions established, but prides itself on being relatively progressive, increasingly diverse, and legitimately competitive. The unique nature of the institution, including the presence of a conservatory of music and true student self-governance, attracts an amazing student body and working with them on daily basis was easily a highlight of the position. The students are bright, involved, committed, academic, talented and creative. The residences in which they reside are relatively small, resulting in tight-knit and comfortable communities. The ability and opportunity you have as a hall director to influence and inspire these students and communities is remarkable.
Beyond the pleasure of working with amazing students, staff, and faculty, the full-time hall director position includes a collateral position. This is an integral part of the Lawrence experience as a new professional, giving you a chance to learn, grow and function within another capacity outside of your hall. Lawrence’s small size makes it possible to gain knowledge and skills in a variety of areas, not just residence life. Professional development opportunities abound from presentations to conference attendance to committee work. If you find yourself at Lawrence, be certain to take advantage of all that you can!
The surrounding area of Appleton and the Fox Valley is surprisingly delightful. With the new Performing Arts Center and the conservatory of music right on campus, there is never a shortage of fine arts opportunities. There’s also a lot of opportunity for an active lifestyle, with many parks, trails, and so forth.
My time at Lawrence effectively prepared me for my next professional step: graduate study in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Vermont. My experiences and relationships at Lawrence equipped me in more ways than I can express for the challenge of graduate study, the reality of working in the field, and the ongoing support I will need venturing into the future.
I would encourage anyone looking for full-time experience at a residential college to strongly consider Lawrence University and all it has to offer. If you have any questions or want some more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thoughts From Brian Want...
In the summer of 2000, I graduated from college, packed up my little blue car, and drove from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, beginning my time as a residence hall director at Lawrence University. The two years that followed were exciting, challenging, and fulfilling.
First, Lawrence is a very special institution. The hybrid of the liberal arts college and the conservatory of music creates student body that is talented, bright, inquisitive, and inspired. Taking this group of 1300 or so diverse students and placing them together in a residential community -- where almost everyone lives on campus -- sets the stage for active learning both inside and outside the classroom.
As a hall director, I built strong relationships with students while forging and refining my own skills as a supervisor, advisor, counselor, and administrator. Lawrence gives its hall directors an opportunity to wear many hats and encourages them to be a full part of the campus community. The hall director position provides many of the vital experiences one would expect from a job in residence life -- working with a staff, developing community within a hall, handling discipline and crisis, and counseling students.
But what really makes hall directing at Lawrence a well-rounded experience is that the in-hall part of the job is paired with a collateral assignment outside the hall. I worked as the coordinator of the volunteer center for one year, and I worked in academic support services for my second year. In both of these collateral roles, I improved my organizational and leadership skills, learned to interact with students and staff in new ways, and helped make connections between the residence halls and the many offices that provide services and activities for students.
This sense of collaboration runs throughout the entire division of student affairs at Lawrence. The deans of students and the other seasoned professionals set a positive tone: they are accessible, they serve as mentors, and they are supportive. Lawrence is a place where new ideas, projects, and perspectives are encouraged and explored against the backdrop of existing traditions. People like to say “YES!” whenever they can. The hall directors and other student affairs staff folks don't simply sit in their respective offices waiting to help students who wander in -- they actively collaborate to plan unique programs, to intervene and help students in need, and to make improvements to campus life. There is an honest sense of commitment and dedication to each individual student that I found inspiring. At the same time, the team knows how to keep a sense of perspective and how to have fun.
A.B. Lafayette College
Thoughts from Sarah Korb...
I worked as a Residence Hall Director at Lawrence University for two years after I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. When I was originally looking for Hall Director positions, I wanted to move out of Wisconsin. I was encouraged to apply for the position at Lawrence and after my on campus interview; I decided I wanted to spend a few more years in Wisconsin!
I would like to share the three most prominent things that made my experience at Lawrence so incredible.
To start off with the people at Lawrence are amazing. The students will amaze you every day with the things they accomplish. The college and conservatory are filled with bright and talented students that strive to be the best in their field. The students will challenge you to be an activist, to think about the world around you, and appreciate diversity. I have never experienced a campus so filled with students wanting to make a difference and students that are truly engaged in so many different interests.
The second area I want to touch on is the position itself. While you spend a majority of your time working with the residents of your hall, part of your time is spent working in a collateral assignment. The collateral assignments will make your experience more valuable. You will work with students on a different level and you will gain immense knowledge in a different area of student affairs. As a small campus, all of the student affairs professionals work together on projects. While you have offices in charge of campus activities and career development, everyone in the division works together to provide resources for students.
The third area is the environment. Lawrence is an excellent place to grow and develop as a Student Affairs professional. You will work with a lot of knowledgeable and talented professionals. The position will challenge you in so many ways, but you will come out of it with a better understanding of student development. I appreciated all of the opportunities I gained at Lawrence and I especially appreciated the ability to develop myself personally and professionally.
I am currently in my second year as an Assistant Area Coordinator at Texas Tech University. I have moved on to a position where I work with a larger number of students and my administrative duties have increased. My position at Lawrence significantly prepared me for my current position. It also prepared me for graduate school. I have recently started taking classes in the Higher Education program here at Tech. The experiences I have had at Lawrence have all been transferable to the work I do in the classroom.
If you are looking for a unique, challenging, and rewarding Student Affairs experience, I highly recommend Lawrence University. I will never forget the time I spent there and the wonderful people I met.
Thoughts from Clark Dawood...
When I graduated from college I was considering a career in student affairs, but was unsure whether or not I was ready to continue on right away to graduate school. I decided instead to gain some practical experience and began searching for Hall Director positions. When I interviewed with Lawrence University I immediately knew that it was a place I wanted to work. From my first interview I was treated with a warmth and respect by the student affairs staff that only continued to grow during my two years there. I was lucky enough to have been offered a position at Lawrence and it only took me a day to decide that Appleton, Wisconsin would become my home. As with any transition, the move from full time student to full time professional was challenging, but with the support of a variety of people I quickly acclimated to my new responsibilities and roles.
Lawrence is a unique place, being both a college and a music conservatory, which attracts an extremely remarkable student body. Tucked away in a community that will surprise you (who knew Wisconsin could be fun?), Lawrence boasts a large international student population, an impressive academic reputation, and students who genuinely care about their college experience. LU is one of the few places I know of where students fought for and are still guaranteed the right to true self-governance. Students at Lawrence set every non-academic policy and are committed to providing for each other a safe, just and comfortable community. While this experiment in student democracy is often time consuming, the experience of watching students move from point A to point B in such complex ways is a demonstration in true learning that you as a Hall Director have a chance to influence and inspire.
Being a part of this learning community will always shape the work I do in student affairs, and it prepared me unbelievably well for my entrance into the University of Maryland’s College Student Personnel Program. My experiences at Lawrence have proved invaluable to me in my academic work, and the insights I have taken away from my students and my colleagues strengthen my practice. As a Hall Director at Lawrence, you will become an integral part of the greater campus community and be provided the opportunity to work intimately with students in your building, advise hall governments, and gain a true appreciation for a close-knit community of learners. You will be unprepared for the awesome relationships you will build with Lawrence students and the degree to which they will learn from you and you from them. True, you may not always understand them, but that's where the rest of the student affairs staff becomes invaluable.
Even now I feel like I was supervised by one of the best professionals in the field, Amy Uecke, and am grateful for such a gifted and caring mentor in my life. The department of residence life is characterized by true collegial support and an intense sense of humor. Staff meetings were of course always productive, and one of the highlights of my week. The friendships I built at Lawrence were one of the “perks” that they didn't mention in the job description. In addition, the collateral experience at Lawrence is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job since it demonstrates a commitment on the part of the senior student affairs staff to provide new professionals with exciting personal development opportunities in offices outside of Residence Life.
Beginning your career at Lawrence is an excellent decision, and while there will definitely be tough days you will walk away feeling like you had the chance to make a positive and significant difference for your students and for the institution, and hopefully you will reflect often on what it is that Lawrence is giving to you.