The Residential Life staff at Trinity will be undergoing some changes after Melissa Flowers, director of Residential Life, moves to Brown University to work as its senior director of residential education and operations/assistant dean.
While the university is searching for someone to fill Flowers’ position, David Tuttle, dean of students, will serve in an interim position as the director of Residential Life. This position is familiar to Tuttle, as he has served as Trinity’s director of Residential Life in the past.
“I was here from ‘87 to ‘92,” Tuttle said. “I left for two years and came back in 1994 as the director of ResLife. I served as director of ResLife until I became dean of students and director of ResLife in 1999. Until about 2010 or so, I was in that role of dean of students and director of Residential Life, so it’s not an unfamiliar role to me.”
Tuttle will remain director of Residential Life until someone else is found for the position.
“We don’t want to rush the process, and typically the spring is when people look to come on board in the summer, but since we have a mid-year vacancy there’s no harm in us starting the process at the beginning of the year,” Tuttle said. “Should the right candidate become available before the middle of spring, we will of course consider that.”
Wanda Olson, associate director for Residential Life, had originally planned to retire at the end of this semester, but will now be staying a little longer to help out.
“With the change of circumstances, with Melissa’s departure, [Olson] was willing — as she’s always willing to do — she’s willing to stay a little longer to make sure the department, staff and the students are in good shape,” Tuttle said.
Wanda Olson was not available for comment.
Rachel Boaz, assistant director for residential education, explained that everyone working in Residential Life is doing a good job of keeping an eye towards the future and what next semester will be like.
“Dean Tuttle is here to help keep things on track and help us maintain the same level of excellence that we strive for all the time,” Boaz said. “There’s been good communication going both ways, both individually and with our department as a whole. The good news is all of us have worked really closely with dean Tuttle before in his current capacity and obviously he’s very familiar with our department since he used to be the director.”
Boaz believes that when the time for transition does come, it will go smoothly as well, but as with any change, the process is both exciting and scary.
“We’ve been really clear about what responsibilities will go where and who will do what,” Boaz said. “So everything for the department has been very transparent. We haven’t done an outside search for a director since, I believe, the mid-1980s. That’s a little nerve-wracking, but also exciting, having someone coming in with some outside ResLife experience from other institutions that they can lend to us. It’s been really amazing to work with Melissa and I think we’re all glad that dean Tuttle is going to be at the helm for a little bit.”
Stephanie Ackerman, assistant director for housing operations, mentioned that the Residential Life office is adaptable.
“We are no strangers to change,” Ackerman wrote in an email interview. “Personally, I think these changes have affected my work by an increase in responsibilities, which is common during transition periods. I believe Residential Life is impacted in the same way. As a team, we’re all going to be picking up additional responsibilities to ensure we are still operating efficiently.”
Ackerman acknowledged others who have been instrumental in making this process go smoothly.
“Dean Tuttle has stepped up as a leader for our office, and has an immense amount of Residential Life-specific experience and knowledge,” Ackerman wrote. “Melissa’s departure will certainly impact the office, as she is a phenomenal leader. We’re truly fortunate to be able to have Wanda’s leadership and wisdom around while we navigate through these changes.”
Ackerman also expressed her thoughts about the difficulties of Flowers leaving.
“It’s always challenging to lose a supervisor you’ve developed a strong relationship with. I’m excited to work more closely with dean Tuttle,” Ackerman wrote. “I’m excited for the additional responsibilities in my position as well. This transition will truly challenge us all, but I know we’re up for it.”
Tuttle will serve as interim director of Residential Life beginning in January 2018, following Flowers’ departure.