Director of Residential Life departs, interim dean of students steps into her role

By Erica Quinones and Piper Sartison

News Editor and Elm Staff Writer

The departure of Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life Ursula Herz was announced in an email from Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Sarah Feyerherm on March 25. Herz departed Washington College on April 2.

Herz was a Student Affairs staff member for five years and helped guide several operational reformations, including launching the Housing Director platform, according to Dr. Feyerherm’s email.

“Ursula has done wonderful things over her time here. She strengthened the [Residential Assistants] program, and was incredible with data,” Interim Dean of Students Greg Krikorian said.

According to Dr. Feyerherm, the director of Residential Life position has many duties, including managing the room selection process for the 2021-2022 academic year, overseeing summer housing, holding RA recruitment, and handling student conduct cases.

Because Herz’s many roles must be covered for the remainder of the semester, those responsibilities fall to other members of the residential life staff in general.

Residential Assistants like junior Jeffrey Stoll were told that as staff help cover those responsibilities, there may be more duties with which RAs will assist.

Because the departure is so recent, Stoll said he has not seen “any impact. But it sounds like in the future, we will have a few more responsibilities.” 

The departure’s timing also means there is no concrete plan for filling the director of Residential Life position, according to Dr. Feyerherm.

However, they are creating a plan to fill the director’s role over the next two weeks. This process will include considering the best way to structure the department to address the reduced number of students and continued challenges of COVID.

While the plan for filling the position permanently is being formulated, Krikorian will fill Herz’s position for the remainder of the semester, according to Dr. Feyerherm. 

“He’s working with us very closely, helping to oversee the RA selection process, recruiting and selecting RAs…[and helping with] the housing selection process as well,” Dr. Feyerherm said. 

Before joining WC in October 2020, Krikorian served as director of Residential Life at two institutions and oversaw the department at a third institution. 

“Although my experiences may be a little dated, because I’m a little older, I’ve had that role and had that experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to really make residential life that centerpiece experience for students,” Dean Krikorian said.

Krikorian does not only enter the position with experience, but continuity.

As interim dean of students, he was already overseeing processes like room selection and the implementation of the off-campus housing policy. Likewise, Krikorian is already involved with student conduct, overseeing the COVID Code of Conduct; however, most student conduct cases will likely not reach Krikorian’s desk due to the department’s structure. Instead, they are likely to remain with other staff members.

The current processes associated with the director of Residential Life position are also already prepped for completion, according to Krikorian.

Krikorian said that Herz’s assistance prior to her departure helped ensure that ongoing processes, such as student housing, are in place and on-time. Rather, the largest complication they are encountering is related to COVID-19.

As the College coordinates with the Kent County Health Department, they are still unsure of how many WC students can be housed on-campus, and consequently, how many off-campus housing waivers they can give. 

According to an April 2 email from Residential Life, the off-campus housing waiver process is moving forward, but the timing is difficult due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandmic. 

The more influential transition may be that which follows Krikorian. Because he is an interim dean, he is tentatively scheduled to depart on July 1. 

However, Krikorian expects that transition to not hinder Residential Life’s processes.

Most of the Residential Life processes, such as housing assignments and RA selection, will be finished prior to his departure. 

Likewise, his role as an interim dean of students is “to set the table, so that things are ready to go for whoever takes over for me,” according to Krikorian. 

Dr. Feyerherm said that while they do not know how the department will appear next year, “it’s also really exciting to be able to envision what it’s going to look like at WC.”

Students with Residential Life-related questions or concerns can email Residential_Life@washcoll.edu for assistance. Questions or concerns regarding student conduct, retention, CARE reports, or Title IX should contact Krikorian at gkrikorian2@washcoll.edu.

Featured Photo caption: Director of Residential Life and Associate Dean of Students Ursula Herz departed the College after five years; her role is being temporarily adopted partially by Interim Dean of Students Greg Krikorian. Elm File Photo.

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