AARON SKUBBY, Editor-in-Chief—Following an external review, Student Housing Operations and Planning and Residential Communities will combine to become Residential Communities and Housing next school year.

Residential Communities and Housing will be based in the Curtis Community Center, which is just below Curtis dining hall. 

 “We expect this will be a seamless transition for students. Behind the scenes, having these teams co-located means the folks students meet with, as well as keys and ID services will be together at one home base, near a dining hall, and near students,” Carianne Meng said. 

Meng is the current Director of Student Housing Operations and Planning, and the Interim Director of Residential Communities.

In 2017, the two departments were one unit, but they were bifurcated into their current state. Residential Communities was tasked with working to ensure quality housing experiences for students, while Student Housing Operations and Planning (SHOP) is focused on operational measures like housing assignments and facility management.

In Fall 2020, an external review was conducted by reviewers who work in housing at other institutions. Part of their recommendation was to recombine the two departments. 

“Having a bifurcated housing and residential life system at a small college is unique, and made operational sense for a time, but these teams are inherently collaborative and it was recommended by the external reviewers that these departments reunite to best serve students. We completely agree,” Meng said.

An additional upcoming change is that “the Community Coordinator position is transitioning to an education level requirement of ‘masters preferred’ which was a recommendation from the external review and is commensurate with the requirements of similar positions at Denison’s peer institutions. This means new Community Coordinator applicants will likely have master’s
degrees in higher education, student affairs, etc.” Meng explained.

This change is part of a larger set of reorganizations being planned by Student Development. As Student Development plans renovations to residence halls for the summer of 2021, the department hopes that combining the work of Student Housing Operations and Planning and Residential Communities will create a more effective, productive administration for students.