Residential college heads step down, positions open

The college heads of James H. Richmond, Lee Clark and Springer-Franklin Residential Colleges have relinquished their positions for the 2015–16 academic school year, making way for new faculty to apply.

Lissa Graham-Schneider, college head of Richmond and associate professor of theater, is relinquishing her position due to personal reasons.

Schneider said she enjoyed the position and hopes for the opportunity to reapply in the future.

John Dressler, college head of Clark and professor of music, is relinquishing his position due to a loss of faculty members within his department.

Despite this, Dressler believes Clark is full of excellent students and finds the college head position rewarding.

“Most people will not understand the role of the college head until they do the job,”  said Kenny Fister, senior lecturer in the department of mathematics and statistics. “In a nutshell, the college head is in charge of the college. They must establish consistency within the college.”

Fister is serving his sixth year as college head of Hester residential college and his first year as chair of the Council of College Heads.

A few responsibilities of the college head involve planning and developing residential college programming, involvement in the Residential College Council and selecting and training First Year Leaders.

The college head also serves as an ombudsperson for students, works with the Retention Office, serves as a resource for the resident director and resident advisers of the college and manages the college budgets.

The college head must have taught for at least 8 years at Murray State. The college head is released partially from academic duties but retains full academic salary and receives a yearly stipend and other benefits.

They are expected to spend time within the residential college that would otherwise be spent within the classroom.

“The College Head is what makes what we are doing different than just having residence halls,” Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs said. “They are the chief advocate for their students.”

“I have spent many long days and nights with students in my office just listening and talking with students about their academics, family and other personal issue,” Fister said. “Many of the student leaders I have worked with would not have gotten involved if it were not for the residential colleges.  It has been a joy to watch the students grow and mature.”

In addition to the advising, administration, promotion and development aspects of the role of a college head, the position is also vital to the relationships and community Robertson said is unique within the residential college.

Crystal Coleman, college head of Elizabeth Residential College and senior lecturer of business, took the position because she wanted to help students and help build relationships and community in the college.

Coleman was asked to apply for the position at Elizabeth by former provost Bonnie Higginson and former Elizabeth college head, Bob Valentine.

One part of Coleman’s favorite aspects of the position is the abundant laughter in Elizabeth, she said.

Coleman said there are numerous things about her position she finds rewarding.

“Giving love and getting it in return,” Coleman said. “Giving advice that I know will help students grow and having the students appreciate it enough to actually embrace it.”

Applications for the position can be picked up in the Student Affairs Office, 425 Wells Hall, or may be received electronically by contacting Jo Ann Mathis.

Applications are due to the Student Affairs Office by March 13.

The selection process a combined effort from students, faculty and staff members living or working within the residential college in question.

Chosen applicants will begin their position on August 1, 2015.

Story by Abby Siegel, Contributing writer