John Stafford, director of Residential and Community Development, was selected to present on budgeting, strategic planning and chief housing operator skills before 350 collegiate housing staff members at a conference for the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers (MACUHO), an organization that advises institutions on residence and dining hall issues.
Residence Director Kate Berry will also be presenting at the conference, on what to do in housing when a college’s apartment complex does not get finished on time.
Stafford, selected as a consultant in residence, is honored as one of three major speakers – two consultants in residence and a keynote speaker – at the conference, a long trip away in Wheeling, W. Va.
“A consultant in residence is a worker in the field of housing, residence life or student affairs considered an expert on some given topic,” Stafford said.
“How they picked me, I don’t know. I just got the phone call and I said, ‘Yeah, dude, that’d be fun,'” Stafford said.
Although he does not know exactly what will be in his speeches yet, Stafford has been working for the past five weeks on his two-hour speech on the importance and steps for strategic planning and budgeting. He said he is gearing it toward college housing departments with budgets between 20 and 25 million dollars.
“One of the foundations of strategic planning is what to do when the plan does not go the way you thought,” he said. He added that construction in general has been disappointing, and the apartment complexes are “just one domino” that will affect the future of construction and renovations.
Strategic planning is also about doing the best you can for the most people, he said.
“Many issues were caught beforehand, but with any new program issues will come up,” he said, regarding the implementation of the Carte Blanche program.
Stafford will also be giving a 60-minute presentation for entry to mid-level professionals, such as resident and area directors, on necessary skills for a chief housing officer.
“He’s a very strong director,” Berry said. “His experience will get (the College’s) name out there and also give other schools the benefit.”
Berry, who has been working at the College for three years, will be presenting at the conference for the first time thanks to the extra work she did over the summer as a go-to person about the Apartment 1 construction delays.
“With everything we went through this summer with the apartments – not a unique situation, but one other colleges could experience – we can give the steps we took and the issues we ran into. We can look back on that and see if others encountered the same situation,” Berry said.
Berry, Stafford and Gretchen Reyes Cseplo, assistant director of Residential and Community Life, hope to use the experience of the unfinished apartments at the conference either to learn more or to share the experience with other colleges in similar situations.
“The students don’t know we cried and suffered as much as students did,” Reyes Cseplo said. “We were just as devastated when this happened. We take pride in giving the best to the students, and the students think we didn’t care – we did care. We were working nights and weekends to make sure to find spaces for apartment students as well as new transfer students.”
The College is actively involved in MACUHO, with a residence staff member typically presenting annually at the fall conference.
“It gives the professional staff a chance to make contact and to experience what other schools are going through,” Berry said.
Berry said she hopes to bring back ideas for an upper-class experience program similar to the College’s First Year Experience and the College’s unique Sophomore Year Experience program, which staff members presented at the conference last year.
“Especially now with everything with the apartments going on, I’d like to see what the upper class needs, what the upper class wants,” she added.
“Not a lot of students know how much work outside of the institution we do to make them look better,” Reyes Cseplo said. “Do things to make sure we’re the best we can be.”