With the commencement of the school year, and classes finally underway, I wanted to take some time and introduce some of the new administrators that, over the summer, filled vacant positions in Residence Life. It was my privilege to speak with Area Coordinator Dan Schell and Assistant Director of Residence Life Matt Jordan.
Mr. Schell, a St. Mary’s College class of 2010 graduate, is from Sharpsburg, Maryland. While he was at St. Mary’s, he majored in Philosophy and minored in Religious Studies, but that did not take up all his time; Mr. Schell was and continues to be an avid Rugby player, playing here during his tenure, as well as in Cape Cod over the past few years, and he will soon join one of the local adult teams, Pax River Rugby, down in the St. Mary’s area. While he attended St. Mary’s, Mr. Schell was part of the For Goodness Sake (FGS) club on campus, a club that no longer exists in full but used to work to foster a stronger sense of community between local at large residents and college students who were willing to volunteer their time to help serve the surrounding area. Furthermore, in perfect preparation for his new job, Mr. Schell was both a Resident Assistant (RA) and a Resident Hall Coordinator (RHC) for three years during his undergrad career.
Since graduating Mr. Schell has worked as a team leader for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). While working for them, he was in charge of ten 18-24 year olds in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and built houses in the communities down there. For the last two years, before returning to St. Mary’s, Mr. Schell worked for AmeriCorps in Cape Cod.
In terms of his new position as Area Coordinator, Mr. Schell has a determined and focused agenda. He wants to “make sure everyone feels comfortable” on campus, and continue to foster a sense of community and unity amongst students. Furthermore, Mr. Schell wants to revitalize Safe House and make sure people are aware of it and that it is “more involved in the campus community”. In addition to this impressive agenda, Mr. Schell wants to create a stronger partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a group he has worked with closely before. Finally, and most important, Mr. Schell wants to “make residents truly feel at home”. This in itself is probably one of the most important issues to tackle because it covers such a wide range of problems, from bug infestations, to mold and noise complaints, to being homesick. Mr. Schell seems ready to “carry on” the tradition of making students “feel comfortable and safe here at St. Mary’s”.
Working closely with Mr. Schell is Assistant Director of Residence Life Matthew Jordan. Mr. Jordan is from Upstate New York in a town called Clifton Park. He completed his undergraduate education at the State University of New York College at Geneseo (SUNY-Geneseo) and graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration. After working full-time in both Student Activities and Residence Life at SUNY-Geneseo. Mr. Jordan continued his education at Indiana University Bloomington and graduated with a M.S. in Higher Education and Student Affairs.
Mr. Jordan has a distinct set of goals that are “very simple”. He wants to put together “comprehensive training sessions for the staff to challenge them to be better [student] leaders”. Furthermore, he wants to gain a better “understanding and appreciation for the traditions at this wonderful institution”. This alone is a pretty inspiring goal: to actually come into our school, the place we call home, and respect our St. Mary’s Way while also trying to better the staff at their jobs. Much like Mr. Schell, Mr. Jordan sees some pressing issues that need to be tackled. Two of the most demanding issues are the “lack of accountability for one’s actions in the residence halls and an inability to engage in civil discourse”. According to Mr. Jordan, these issues are germane because “without accountability and a willingness to discuss pertinent matters with civility, roommate relationships become strained very quickly.” Furthermore, Mr. Jordan went on to reinforce his goal that “all students living in our residence halls [treat] each other with dignity and respect”. For Mr. Jordan, some of the biggest issues he is concerned about have to do with social justice. Especially, but not limited to, “male gender identity and masculinity issues, and first generation student transition.” Mr. Jordan has done research on all these topics and “you will definitely see [him] getting involved in campus initiatives that involve these issues.”
With all the new changes in administration, and the budget insecurities, it is nice to finally feel that the students can count on a portion of administrative services that is integral to our quality of life on campus. The new hires, Mr. Schell and Mr. Jordan both seem ready to tackle their goals and set St. Mary’s back on track. Their ideas and confidence are prepared to revitalize our school’s mission and re-instill hope that ‘the school on the river’ can once again outshine the competition.