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Join the Conversation is a podcast of the Student Housing Matters blog. The Student Housing Matters blog is about matters relating to on-campus student housing, as well as why quality on-campus student housing really matters. We want this blog to serve as a forum for sharing ideas and insights about how your on-campus student housing can do things beyond simply housing students. How it can be used as a more powerful tool to recruit and retain students on your campus. http://studenthousingmat ...
 
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show series
 
Most of us associate summer on campus with conference programs. But summer interns need housing, too, and many campuses are capitalizing on this need. So, what does a summer internship student housing program look like? Would it work on your campus? And what are summer interns looking for in a place stay? Emily Eskridge-June is the Director of Hous…
 
What does it look like to serve students from the facilities and operations side of student housing? What does it take to keep a residence hall complex well-maintained and running smoothly? Patrick Shanahan is the Director of Facilities and Administration at The Heights, Montclair State University’s newest residence halls complex. Patrick has worke…
 
As you rise through the ranks of a career in student housing, you face more and more complex problems. Imagine, for example, taking on a site that has occupancy concerns, building issues AND staffing challenges. So, what do successful leaders do to avoid overwhelm and focus their energy on finding solutions? Kern Williams serves as Regional Manager…
 
How do you design a marketing plan that attracts residents to a particular student housing community? What if you’re responsible for promoting 35 different sites, each with their own unique culture and set of amenities? Brittany Pieper is the Site Marketing Coordinator for COCM, where she works with our 35-plus partner institutions and their onsite…
 
Student housing professionals have faced one challenge after another in 2020. When it comes to residence life, this has not been an ideal year, as the pandemic has kept us from doing most of our traditional programming. So, how are housing directors building community in the COVID era? Katherine Warren is COCM’s Assistant Director of Residence Life…
 
Over the course of 2020, different industries have been impacted in a variety of ways. Today, we take a look at the topic of security – specifically the tracking of the coming and going of people within facilities. Students come and go from student housing facilities all hours of the day – so how do we keep them safe and secure during a pandemic? C…
 
The conference services team at the University of Washington was looking forward to serving 11,000 overnight guests and facilitating 200 overnight conference sessions this summer. But 2020 had other plans, and though the campus did not close, Christine Sismaet and her team had a very different season than expected. Christine is the Operations Manag…
 
Conferences and summer programs offer institutions an opportunity to generate revenue that can reduce the financial burden placed on students during the academic year. And it’s not just housing – a strong, efficient summer program brings revenue to other campus entities as well, including dining services, athletics, facilities, and even academic de…
 
Serving university students who live off-campus puts Kristen Franklin in a unique position. Yes, she works closely with the highly regarded research institution her residents attend. But her team also has the freedom to individualize their services and work independently. So, what are the pros and cons of this arrangement when a global pandemic clo…
 
When the Coronavirus shut down college campuses across the US, most student housing facilities closed as well. But what do you do if the majority of your residents are not from the US and may not have the option to simply go home? How do you continue to serve students and stay connected with them when you’re required to stay at least six feet apart…
 
COCM understands the importance of motivating a team and driving engagement during a time of isolation and unfamiliar work environments. In order to determine how residential faculty working on campus and remotely at Marshall University are adapting to conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic we interviewed Heather Smith, Assistant Director of Opera…
 
We all want to work in an environment that somehow feeds our souls. What happens when we encounter a workplace that does the exact opposite? Heidi Yoder began researching workplace bullying within student affairs in the Fall of 2018. Now, she’s sharing some of her insights on preventing toxic workplace environments and handling instances of abusive…
 
It’s well known that a career in higher education leaves you with many transferable skills. Are those skills useful outside of your workplace? How can we use what we’ve learned working with students to better ourselves and our communities? In 2009, Nicole Terrell joined COCM as a first-time Assistant Director in a brand-new residence hall at Marsha…
 
Rafael Cordwell believes that you don’t choose your profession, your profession chooses you. And in the beginning, Raf resisted a career in student affairs—despite encouragement from more than one of his supervisors at Southern Connecticut State. But higher education had other plans for Raf, and today, he aspires to impact campus culture and policy…
 
Winston Churchill led Britain through both World Wars. But how would he fight the invisible enemy we face today? How might Churchill approach the current situation with Coronavirus? Dr. Larry P. Arnn is the President of Hillsdale College, where he also serves as a professor of politics and history. He earned degrees from Arkansas State and Claremon…
 
During her tenure at COCM, Mellissa Taylor quickly became known among students as The Housing Lady. So, what did she learn as the face and voice of student housing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham? How have those lessons around communicating with students carried over to her current role in higher ed? Mellissa serves as the Assistant Dire…
 
“Build the bridge as you walk across it. Just find something and try it out and define it. And then over time, it becomes the normal that everybody’s used to—an efficiently run process.” In her ten-year career with COCM, Tricia Wells played a major role in developing the infrastructure we use today, creating several of the programs, initiatives and…
 
At times, student affairs professionals are hesitant to pursue a role with COCM, thinking that the transition back to a university setting will be challenging. And yet, a number of former Capstone employees have made the successful move to public institutions. What have they done to make the transition as seamless as possible? And how do they go ab…
 
We talk a lot about wellness and work-life balance, but most of us in the world of student housing are just not very good at it. So, how can we learn to prioritize our emotional and spiritual health? How can we develop the courage to ask what’s really important to us and align our choices accordingly? And if that means choosing a new path, how can …
 
If you’re looking to make a big change or pursue an extraordinary venture, the first step is to share your intentions and then accept help when it’s offered. This can be challenging for those of us in higher ed, as we’re used to providing a support system rather than tapping into one ourselves. But seeking out someone (or multiple someones) willing…
 
As with most things, the amount of effort, dedication and heart you put into a career in student housing is directly correlated with what you get back. And Jeremy Thompson contends that if you go in with an open mind and really give it a shot, the profession may surprise you. Jeremy is the Regional Vice President of Capstone On-Campus Management. I…
 
How can we be elite without being elitist? Dr. Eileen Strempel contends that for an institution of higher learning to be truly great in the 21st century, it must adapt to the changing nature of the student body and support what she calls the neotraditional student, marrying the ideas of access and excellence. Eileen is the inaugural dean of the UCL…
 
How do you find your unicorn job? Heather O’Leary-Agosta argues that rather than getting caught up in titles, it’s more important to consider what you love about your current role and make decisions that facilitate more of THAT. Though she was hesitant to make a career move that seemed like a step back, Heather focused on the quality of her work an…
 
Every year COCM hosts an Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. In February, COCM’s Assistant Directors fly in from over 40 different sites for a week of learning, listening, sharing, and building community amongst fellow student housing professionals. Being an Assistant Director of Housing can mean many things. Depending on the particular site, AD…
 
Brian served as the IT Coordinator at COCM for 10 years. In 2018, he left COCM to join the BL Harbert Team as an IT Manager for the US Group. In today’s episode, Tara Wilkinson catches up with Brian to ask him about all that he learned from working with COCM and how it is impacting his new position. Brian joined Capstone Development Group over a de…
 
Every year COCM hosts an Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. In January, site directors from over fly in from over 40 different sites for a week of learning, listening, sharing, and building community amongst fellow student housing professionals. Being a Director of Housing at any university comes with a variety of roles, responsibilities, and c…
 
Opening a brand-new residence hall, on a campus that is not used to serving its students 24/7, is quite an undertaking. How do you manage the expectations of a diverse student population? How do you initiate support services after traditional hours? How do you build the foundation for a successful community—without the luxury of established policie…
 
Close your eyes and picture a community college. Did you envision student housing? You may be surprised to hear that many campuses DO have housing, and just like any four-year school, living on campus has an impact on student success. The catch is, student housing cannot be just a building on campus; it must provide an experience that engages the s…
 
Even among student housing professionals, few are familiar with the idea of nonprofit ownership. What is it? How does it work? And why would a university choose to work with a nonprofit to develop student housing facilities? Will Givhan is the President and CEO of the Collegiate Housing Foundation, the country’s premier nonprofit provider of studen…
 
To be a successful leader in the student housing space, you need buy-in from all of the players involved. But how do you determine what’s driving each stakeholder and make decisions accordingly? Brian Kraft argues that learning to listen is the most critical skill for leaders in student housing. Brian is the Regional Vice President at COCM. He is r…
 
What are the key differences in working as a student housing professional for COCM versus a public institution? How does working within the confines of a bureaucracy for a university contrast with serving a housing-focused private company? And how can the two work together for the good of the students they serve? Gray Bekurs is the Vice President f…
 
There is no doubt that institutions of higher learning face a number of challenges, not the least of which is an unsustainable financial model. Tuition, fees, room and board no longer pay the bills—despite sticker prices as high as $72K a year! So, how do colleges and universities design innovative solutions and continue to thrive in the 21st centu…
 
Many professionals in the world of student housing began as RAs, gaining exposure to the industry as college students and eventually realizing the opportunity to pursue a career in the space. But what if you weren’t a resident assistant in college? How do you get into student housing with a background in what seems like a vastly different industry?…
 
When it comes to student housing, there is simply no way to copy/paste a set of processes on each new campus. Rather, you need to gain an understanding of the institution and the property itself and customize your approach based on the circumstances at hand. How exactly does site diversity impact the way you work with a particular university? Brian…
 
When a residence hall comes in under budget, that money can be invested in the building itself. But how do you make decisions around what improvements to prioritize? Kelly Podach Francis designs an action plan based on student feedback, and she contends that this approach leads directly to student retention. Kelly is the Director of Facilities and …
 
How can an urban research university serve as an anchor for its community—attracting employers and giving talent a reason to stay in the city after graduation? Harlan Sands believes that the key is to serve as a hub of innovation, aligning skills taught with the needs of a modern economy. Harlan is the newly appointed President of Cleveland State U…
 
‘We came in humble and approachable, wanting to collaborate.’ How do you turn around a student housing site that has spiraled into decline? Where do you begin when all of the problems—occupancy, reputation and facility issues—are intertwined? How do you look at the situation with Fresh Eyes and change the narrative, rebuilding the site’s reputation…
 
Time management. Customer service. Conflict mediation. Critical thinking. Teamwork. Whatever your motivation for becoming a resident assistant, the position allows you to hone a number of incredibly valuable skills that carry over to any career you might choose to pursue. And though the field of student housing is less familiar to the general popul…
 
Timothy Evans joins us today. Timothy is the assistant director of operations at the University Village Apartments, an on campus housing facility at California State University San Marcos. One of the biggest topics in higher education these days is student debt. And Tim has such a neat back-story that makes him passionate about getting out of, and …
 
In this "How I Got Into Student Housing" series, we've been talking to housing professionals to understand how they got into this field. In every episode of the series, you’ll hear how a mentor and/or a situation guided each person into something they love. In this episode we interview COCM's director of Towson Place Apartments, a student community…
 
President of COCM, Doug Brown and Executive Vice President, Sandy Hill sat down with us to talk about how they got into the student housing world and then to COCM. The conversation winds through their background, funny stories they’ve had while traveling, and where they see the future of COCM. This is a special video podcast version of a series we’…
 
This episode, Dr. Nancy Uscher joins us to chat with us about the relationship between a research university and its school of fine arts, and why that relationship is important. Dr. Uscher holds a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York a…
 
Jack Suess, the Vice President of Information Technology and CIO of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, joined us to talk about what they’re doing with “Big Data” on that campus, and how they’re using it to increase student success. We also talked about using the cloud to be a "greener" campus and the importance of quality WIFI coverage.…
 
Joe Cantona is a Site Operations Specialist for COCM. In his role, he has worked on site at almost every one of COCM's sites across the country, performing tasks from opening sites for the first time, to filling the gap while critical staff when they are on leave. He joined us for the latest installment of our “How I Got Into Student Housing” serie…
 
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