Residential Education organizational update

In this message to Resident Assistants, Assistant Vice Provost for Residential Education Cheryl Brown and Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks describe enhancements to ResEd’s professional staff structure in coordination with the implementation of ResX.

Dear student staff,

We want to start with gratitude.  First, we cannot thank you enough for stepping into this role with enthusiasm during a pandemic.  Second, we appreciate your commitment to this role and willingness to be collaborative, innovative, flexible, intentional, reflective, and excellent in supporting fellow students and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If there was ever a year to practice adapting for changing times, this was it, and you demonstrated this skill to a degree and at a level that surpassed all expectations and you continue to do so as we move through the spring and soon summer quarters.  That many of you came forward to accept this role during a pandemic is greatly appreciated.  Also appreciated is your continued partnership in identifying the ways we in Residential Education can better support you and your residents.  We are now combining lessons learned this year with the ResX vision to move forward with a new structure for our Residential Education professional staff, a structure informed by you and students who preceded you in this role, and a structure designed to provide better support for RAs.  Here are more details.

By now, we are sure you are aware that the university will begin implementing the ResX vision through the launch of neighborhoods this fall.  Next year, we will have an extraordinary opportunity to intensify our shared work to build equitable and inclusive student communities, and student leadership will be central to this work.  Our transition to neighborhoods also brings the need for change in our residential support system in the Residential Education organization.

We will be guided in this support system work by three core principles:

  • Continuity of care during a student’s journey at Stanford
  • Consistency in the student experience across the neighborhoods
  • Coordinated collaboration across all of VPSA, along with VPUE, R&DE, and others to offer more holistic support for students

The changes we are announcing today build upon a reorganization in 2019. Today’s restructuring of the ResEd organization will bring the following support to our Resident Fellows (RFs) and Resident Assistants (RAs):

  • Neighborhood Program Directors (NPD)
  • Resident Directors (RD)
  • Community Coordinators (CC)

This new structure is effective August 1, 2021; in the meantime, our current staff structure will remain the same.

Rationale for restructure: increasing student and community support

Through the ResX process, students made clear that the RF and RAs roles are treasured, valued, and deserving of greater support from the university.  In addition, we want to be able to provide clear, consistent and focused leadership of the undergraduate residences through and beyond the transition to neighborhoods, neighborhood programming and community councils.  This, in turn, requires a fundamentally different support staff structure.

Meeting these needs and increasing support for individual students within our resource base requires us to be very strategic as we work to fill gaps in our structure, eliminate positions that are duplicative or prevent us from fully achieving the level of support needed to launch the neighborhood model, and provide more live-in support from full-time professional staff.

Student support

We will be transitioning to a new model for student support, and this will impact both our Residence Deans and the Community Directors in EVGR-A.  With the advent of our new neighborhood system and the addition of the new roles described in the sections below, we believe that now is the time to transform the Residence Dean role to meet the evolving needs of our students and our residential communities.  To make the necessary staffing changes within our budget while also addressing the need for a different approach to student support, we are reshaping the Residence Dean and Community Director roles into a new live-in Resident Director position.  Some of the responsibilities of our Residence Deans will be absorbed by the Dean of Students Office, the ResEd Leadership Team, and the ResEd professional staff in the neighborhoods.

We will be in a position to provide more care and support to students with ResX by hiring a new team of Resident Directors who can live in community with RAs, RFs, and students, build relationships with residents, provide regular support and guidance, and create more opportunities for connection to our resources on campus.  Reporting to our new Neighborhood Program Directors (see below), this live-in role will serve in a complementary role to RAs and RFs and provide guidance and support for student health and well-being.

We believe that this new role will serve as a local guide similar to the Academic Advising Directors, but instead focused on facilitating community and belonging and providing professional support to students in navigating their personal development.  We intend for the Resident Director to build relationships with students throughout their four years at Stanford, setting up our Resident Directors as trusted members of the community when called upon to show up and accompany students in a crisis.

Neighborhood program support

We will be adding four Neighborhood Program Directors to ResEd to manage two neighborhoods each and to supervise the ResEd staff assigned to their neighborhoods.  They will provide backup on-call consultation for the Residential Directors and financial transaction review and approval for house and neighborhood programming.  They will also serve as liaisons between RFs and the ResEd Leadership Team, and our partners in R&DE and VPUE, in their assigned neighborhoods.  We believe adding this new position will provide targeted support to help ensure consistency and collaboration across the neighborhoods, community councils, and individual houses.

Administrative & logistical support

Each neighborhood will have a designated Community Coordinator (CC), for a total of 8 CCs in ResEd.  Reporting to the Neighborhood Program Director, this role will support RFs, student staff, and community councils with financial training and transactions, and with planning and programming for the houses and neighborhood.  We have identified more efficient ways to complete financial transactions in a timely fashion, and the financial transactions associated with Row dining will no longer be the responsibility of ResEd, so the CC team will decrease in number.

Enhanced resident fellow program support

We need to provide more support and structure for RFs, and we know RFs will need more from us as we pivot toward the neighborhood model.  We will also add two new positions to our ResEd staff this fall focused on guiding and supporting RFs into this new season.  We will be posting one Associate Dean position and one Associate Director position.  Both will work with the campus community and our RFs on Resident Fellow recruitment, onboarding, training, ongoing engagement, communication, and assessment.

Significant change

We know that this is not just structural change, but for some it may also be a relational change.  We are aware that many of you have built professional relationships with staff whose positions we will eliminate through this restructure.  We don’t take these steps lightly.  We want to honor the contributions of so many colleagues, who have been here for us, for our students, and for the university during the most difficult of times.  We spoke with each impacted staff member individually this week, and we will continue to offer them all the support we can through this transition.  We hope this message will help you understand our direction and the values that have guided us in the decisions we are announcing.

In closing

We intend for these changes to not only align with the vision and values of ResX, but also give all RFs, student staff, and undergraduate students the support they need.  This pivot toward a structure that facilitates better RF/RA partnerships with ResEd and our campus collaborators in VPSA, VPUE, and R&DE will also allow our professional staff to provide multiple levels of support to students and our residential communities that our current structure impedes.  We are also grateful that, as we eliminate some positions, we will simultaneously have new opportunities that may garner the interest of current staff, with the possibility of upward mobility.  We are grateful to our ResEd team for their adaptability and resilience as our organization continues to evolve.

We look forward to staying in touch as we continue to advance the ResX priorities.

In gratitude,

Cheryl Brown
Assistant Vice Provost for Residential Education

Mona Hicks
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students