University Village, formerly managed by Ambling Property Management, will now be managed by the Department of Housing and Residence Life.
“During consolidation, we wanted to make everything on campus uniform; the Health Sciences Campus already had a Residence Life Department, so it seemed only natural to merge University Village,” Director of Student Services Dale Hartenburg said. “But there were contracts that the university had and preparations that had to be made.”
The university officially assumed management in April and is excited about the prospects.
“It really makes things a lot easier,” Hartenburg said. “Now we have all the same processes, rules, and paperwork for all student housing. Before, we had to act as a middle-man for the other company, and none of the processes were the same for University Village.”
Some of the maintenance and service staff have remained during the transition at University Village, and others have been reassigned to take over management duties, according to Hartenburg.
“We wanted to create a comprehensive residential life environment, not just provide housing,” he said. “We have more staff on hand there, and they are getting more involved.”
One difference is there are now 20 resident advisors at University Village, up from only five two years ago. Resident advisors are students who live in the facility and have special responsibilities to help manage and mentor students. There are advisors who are on call 24/7 during the school year.
“The peer leadership that they provide is very important,” Hartenburg said. “These are students who are going through the same issues the other residents are going through.”
These advisors are also key in developing new programs and activities to get students involved, particularly students living on their own for the first time. Students participate in various activities from a movie night (with an educational angle, of course), to attending a basketball game.
“We want to make sure that the students are involved and active in student life,” Hartenburg said. “That involvement is key, and when a student is involved, that is going to be reflected in his outlook and in his academics as well.”
There are even some resources being shifted to University Village, like tutoring and study halls, to reach out to the students where they live.
“We don’t want to just provide a place for them to live,” Hartenburg said. “We want to develop relationships with students and get them to engage in the university.”
So far, according to Hartenburg, things are going well.
“We have a great staff, and they’re working hard to incorporate many of these new changes,” he said. “We’re very excited about the upcoming semester and the impact that these programs will have.”