ResLife looks to fill vacant Area Residence Director position

The Office of Residential Life and Learning (ResLife) is currently searching for a new Area Residence Director (ARD) for Area 1 (Hill Hall, West Hall, Houston Hall and Miller Hall), a position that has been vacant since the beginning of this academic year, according to ResLife Director Yolanda King.

Candidates for the ARD job are being interviewed this week, and King said she intends to hire a new ARD within the next few weeks. The ARD job posting was removed from the Tufts Careers website on Monday afternoon.

For the third year in a row, ResLife is hiring four full-time ARDs to oversee multiple residence halls, replacing the former system of hiring 10 part-time Residence Directors (RD), according to an Oct. 1, 2015 article in the Daily.

“This is in line with the best practices in other residential life programs at other institutions,” King told the Daily in the 2015 article. “By moving to this model, the positions allow all the ARDs to spend more time focusing on the needs and support for the students who live on campus.”

In the absence of a full-time ARD, ResLife Associate Director Jerome Holland Jr. has overseen Area 1 for the past several weeks, according to King.  In addition, Area 2 ARD Mohamed Barakat, whose office is in Area 1, said that he has offered help and advice for Area 1 Resident Assistants (RAs)King added that ResLife has hired two Graduate Residence Directors to oversee unstaffed halls and otherwise support RAs and ARDs.

King explained that since late August, the ARDs and other ORLL staff have focused on training, move-in and other beginning-of-year tasks.  She said that she hopes to appoint an Area 1 ARD as the ResLife system begins to transition to normal operations for the year.

Emily Touchet, an RA in Miller Hall, said that the vacancy has created organizational issues.  She noted that RA training and programming have been confusing in the absence of a permanent ARD, especially for her as a first-time RA.

“It feels a bit strange acting as if Jerome is the ARD while knowing that he will not remain in this position, and there will be a transition at some unknown point,” Touchet, a sophomore, told the Daily in an email.

Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon said that, in the future, she would like to synchronize the hiring schedule for ARDs with the academic year.

“My goal would be for future Residential Life office hires, as much as possible, to be posted … in the spring, and people would be in place in the summer to be ready for the fall,” McMahon said.

ResLife briefly faced similar vacancies at the beginning of last year, when two of the four ARD positions were unfilled, according to the 2015 Daily article.

Tanya Mascary, who was previously the Area 1 ARD, left Tufts in July 2016 to work with City Year in Boston, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before she left, she was the only remaining ARD who was hired when the full-time ARD system was created in 2014, McMahon noted.

According to the ARD job posting, the ARD position is limited to a three-year appointment. McMahon explained that, corresponding with the limited appointment, the ARD job is designed to be an entry-level position, and Tufts expects ARDs to leave after a few years for other opportunities.

“I’m comfortable with the turnover in the role,” McMahon said.  “I think we’ve had great people, [and] I’m confident that we’re going to get more great people.”

King agreed, saying that she recognizes that ARDs will frequently leave for another job if an opportunity arises outside of Tufts.

The other three ARD positions are currently filled by staff who were hired in 2015.  Barakat oversees Area 2 (Carmichael Hall, Wilson House, Wren Hall, Carpenter House, Metcalf Hall and Richardson House), Julie Kennedy oversees Area 3 (Bush Hall, Hodgdon Hall, Haskell Hall and Tilton Hall) and Donisha Thaxton oversees Area 4 (Lewis Hall and Harleston Hall).

According to all three current ARDs, their roles involve overseeing their areas’ RAs, helping to organize and approve programming, coordinating with campus partners such as Eco-Reps and the Scholars-in-Residence, serving on their area’s on-call rotation and completing a variety of other tasks that vary on a daily basis.

King said that she is looking to hire an ARD who is energetic, interested in building communities and experienced in working with diverse populations.  Similarly, McMahon added that an ARD should be a generalist who is able to support residents with a wide variety of interests and personalities.

McMahon and King both agreed that an ARD does not have to have a specific type of prior experience, as long as they are competent at building communities.  According to McMahon, that experience could come from involvement in residential life, student activities or student leadership.

“I am looking for people who are really sharp and [who] understand that people coming into a residential community are coming from all over the country and all over the world,” McMahon said.