As much as students like to try, the role of residence directors in college simply cannot be ignored.
Whether it’s doing minor administrative tasks or creating discussion groups with resident assistants (RA), the role of a residence director (RD) is crucial in the formation and development of students within a college campus.
At Gonzaga University, there are a total of eight residence directors on campus, five of which are full-time RDs and three graduate residence directors (GRD). Full-time residence directors have master’s degrees, whereas the graduate residence directors do not.
“The full time RDs work 40 plus hours a week, and they all have their masters’ degrees. The graduate RDs work 30 hours a week while getting their master’s degrees,” said Jon Wheeler, director for residence life. “The GRDs all report to an RD, so they are layer lower on the hierarchy, but they still do the same work as the RDs but with fewer hours.”
RDs are responsible for community development, helping RAs with and their needs and addressing issues and concerns with the buildings that they are working in. Wheeler said that these professionals are also responsible for understanding the nature and needs of the residents who are living in their block, constantly being responsive to the needs and issues of the students themselves.
Wheeler believes that RDs are valuable as they possess a strong relational position to their residents. The current RDs and GRDs who held positions last year include Christina Thomas, Carley Halverson, Katie Steele, Aileen Duong, Analee Scott and Maggie Bolden.
Two new faces are present as Gonzaga RDs this year. Jimmy Beh and Tyler Kieffer are two first year RDs at GU, as both former east coast residents look to make their mark on the GU campus and make a difference to all students that they encounter.
Beh is a native of Washington D.C. who is a RD for the East Central Block, which includes the residence halls DeSmet, Alliance, Lincoln, Roncali, and Marian. The Washington, D.C. native of 18 years completed his undergraduate studies at the University of San Diego (USD) for his bachelor’s degree in communication. After taking a couple years off to discover what he wanted to do, Beh went back to graduate school for higher education and leadership, landing in student affairs as a result.
“The best way to describe an RD is a generalist,” Beh said. “When it comes to residential life, there’s so many parts of the campus community … being someone that kind of supports and educates the students that live on campus is a big part of living here.”
Beh was an assistent RD at USD for a year while he was finishing his masters. After going through an application process in the spring, he was accepted for
Spokane in July. Beh says his tranistion here was a bit different but also fun, as he said it’s fun going to new places and seeing what that culture and experience is.
Beh’s day-to-day tasks as a residence director include balancing between future planning, support and education in the moment. Beh said he enjoys building relationships with staff members and residents the most because he enjoys helping students with their development as people and giving them an opportunity to express how they feel.
As Beh’s office is in DeSmet, the influence he has on the men living in the resident hall is especially important to him, as he said he believes it is valuable for men to become more expressive individuals. Beh continues to encourage this behavior to his residents, and that’s how he believes he is making a difference on campus, working with a masculinity discernment group, working with faculty and staff about what healthy masculinity looks like.
“I think part of making a change is planting seeds,” Beh said. “Sometimes you don’t always get to see those seeds grow, but I enjoy doing that work.”
The other new face on the GU campus is Tyler Kieffer. The Tampa, Florida, native graduated from the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida, in 2015 with his bachelor’s degree in exercise science. He then attended graduate school to obtain his master’s of education in college student affairs from the University of South Florida in 2019.
Kieffer is the residence director for the Coughlin block, which means that he meets the needs of the Coughlin building. Although some of the tasks are similar to that of Beh’s, Kieffer’s unique positioning allows for him to accept new challenges along the way.
“Coughlin is unique in that it’s the only block that is a building by itself,” Kieffer said. “My day-to-day responsibilities are keeping Coughlin nice, making sure students’ needs are met.”
Kieffer said he and the rest of his team are tied into the Living Learning Community (LLC) lifestyle of Coughlin Hall, and a part of his job is focusing on working with the different LLCs in Coughlin and trying to find ways to make it better and more informative to students.
“I really enjoy our team here at Coughlin,” Kieffer said. “They’re a really dedicated group of individuals.”
Kieffer said his favorite part of being a residence director is having the responsibility of the building, creating an experience that is shared by other resident. Kieferr also believes he is making a difference on campus by questioning the status quo at GU with housing.
“I like to believe that I am challenging the way things are done,” Kieffer said.
All in all, the importance of a residence director cannot be ignored, as both Beh and Kieffer look to make their impact on GU’s campus.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Wheeler said.