Res Life hires new staff, improves programming

Recently, Residence Life acquired four new staff members to help with student life and development on campus: Ralph Chittams, Elissa Rupley, Nathan Meints and Jennifer Ballard.

Director of the Residence Life Kevin Jacques said he conducted a full national search for potential candidates.

“I hired these four because of their skill set, expertise and passions in student affairs,” he said.

Area coordinator of Rice and Rivers Elissa Rupley recently arrived from graduate studies in Indiana State University.

“I like working with the staff,” Rupley said. “They are really receptive, and I enjoy getting to know them.

Rupley sees her position as a challenging experience and an overall great opportunity.

Assistant Director of Residence life Chittams has been working in student affairs since 2004. He also worked in Residence Life in the University of Utah. After meeting Jacques at a conference, he thought of the position as a whole new experience.

“I do not like to be complacent,” he said. “I like to learn from the students as they learn. If I become stagnant, something is wrong.”

In an effort to get involved, Chittams created an ultimate frisby group on Facebook.

“I want to bridge the gap between students and the staff,” he said.

Meints is the area coordinator for Lagrange, Lafayette, Covington, Hawthorne and Appleby. He also supervises the community advisors and students with concern.

“The atmosphere in Alabama is very different from when I was in Minnesota,” he said. “I love Alabama weather.”

Despite his big transition, Meints already feels comfortable in his new position.

“The staff is like a second family to me,” Meints said. “We are very tight and we enjoy learning things from one another.”

Meints appreciates listening to stories of different incoming students, solving their problems and watching them reach their goals.

“When you put yourself in a new environment, you gain new perspectives,” he said.

Assistant Director of Residence Life Ballard wants to present more opportunities for students to become engaged and look over their developmental process.

“I love that we have a good population of outgoing students that are always excited about the opportunities we offer them,” she said.

Ballard has been working in residence life positions for some time, but her new position gives her the ability to lay ground work and go in the direction she wants the department to go.

“No two days are the same here,” she said. “Every day is something different.”

Jacques is looking forward to the new school year.

“I am excited about the new staff this year,” Jacques said. “Their combined expertise makes a truly well-rounded team.”