Colorado School of Mines’ Department of Residence Life is a featured program.
The Colorado School of Mines Department of Residence Life recently opened a 207 bed residence hall. A new 600 seat dining facility and central office were including as part of the construction project. We have always been an institution big into collaboration, but this project has allowed us to expand our ability to work closely with other departments. The central office is home to the Department of Residence Life, Mines Dining, and BlasterCard (ID card) services. The decision to move these groups in together was quite deliberate. Besides their individual functions, the three offices work together to facilitate the management of meal plans, coordinate access to the residence halls, and help students in general. We have lovingly dubbed the space the Campus Living Office, or CLO, to represent the community we work to house, feed, and support. Even our campus phone extension is x5433 (LIFE) to represent our dedication to the community. Being closer to each other physically has played a significantly role in allowing for better communication amongst our various roles and developing better plans and processes as we move towards our next goals.
The physical space has also allowed a unique dynamic for the professional and student staff who work with us. There is a large reception area staffed by a front desk student staff. The desk staff reports to one student Lead Desk Assistant who coordinates the schedule, training and communication in the office. As a team they answer questions from walk-ins and phone calls, assist with departmental processes like meal plan changes, housing sign-up, and student staff (RA) selection interview sign-up, and they have functional tasks such as making new BlasterCards for students, staff and faculty. Customer service is their number one function. Additionally, there are four open work stations with computers and phones in the middle of the office. Rather than having cubicle walls surrounding these stations, we opted for padded benches adjacent to the desks. These work stations have a variety of software programs that are used by professional staff for work, as well as student staff for their engineering and technology classes. The office also has a small conference room with AV and a kitchen, as well as large floor to ceiling windows. Our goal with the space is to make it as welcoming as possible and encourage staff and students to spend time in the office when they need to send a quick email, do some homework, or just take a break.
We transitioned to the space upon its completion in early November 2014, so we are still working to develop a campus wide presence. We have hosted an open house, posted on social media, and are working on some initiatives (with free food, of course) to bring people to the office. Our foot traffic is fairly heavy, but we know there is a growth period for our campus community. We are starting a program called Last Friday where any student, staff, or faculty member can stop by and speak with our staff and fill out a brief survey on that day’s topic (Housing Sign-up, Dining, Programming on-campus, etc.).
This is the first time we have had a central office for Residence Life, not to mention our campus partners, in many years. This transition has been extremely positive and helpful for our growing department.
Submitted by Katie Schmalzel, Assistant Director of Residence Life for Housing Operations