DePaul University Newsline > Sections > That’s My Job > Meet Rod Waters: Elevating residential education
By Rachel Wojnicki /
January 31, 2022 /
Posted in: THAT'S MY JOB /
(DePaul University/Randall Spriggs)
Living in a dorm is a quintessential part of the college experience for many students. Not only are residence halls a place students can call home, they can be a source of engagement and community building outside of the classroom. At the helm of DePaul's on-campus residence halls is Rod Waters, the director of residential education.
“My primary charge is to ensure the well-being, safety and community development effort for our residential population," Waters says. “This includes providing guidance and professional development to my staff members who engage with students on a daily basis, and serving as a member on the Student Care Team and the University Threat Assessment Team."
Waters has been at DePaul since 2015, but was no stranger to student affairs before joining the Blue Demon community. His resume includes residential life, student affairs and housing roles at various universities from east to west coast across the U.S.
“Prior to DePaul I served as the director of residential life and housing at Suffolk University in Boston," Waters says. “As a product of Catholic education, I wanted the opportunity to work within student affairs at a religiously-affiliated institution. When I learned about DePaul, I was immediately drawn to the Vincentian mission and how it is rooted in the work and curriculum."
Similar to other many campus life teams across the university, Waters and his staff had to quickly adapt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It was a significant challenge for us," he says. “We had to readjust many of our policies and procedures to ensure the well-being and safety of our students. Though we had a smaller population living on campus during the 2020-21 academic year, we needed to be creative in how we implemented programming and community building given CDC guidelines. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish for our Blue Demons during that time."
Building on that experience, Waters and his team spent a significant amount of time planning for and collaborating on what they hoped the current academic year would look like.
“As always, we considered the needs of our students first," Waters says. “Many did not live on campus last year, and we wanted to ensure we are giving the best and safest experience possible. We again revisited policies that had changed during the pandemic, trained new professional staff, as well as additional resident advisors, to better support our residents and create an environment of success during an ongoing pandemic."
As the campus community settles into the winter quarter, Waters and his team look forward to increased engagement this winter and spring, as well as in the 2022-23 academic year.
“One initiative we at Residential Education continue to grow is our living learning communities," Waters notes. “Living learning communities are a space for students to live together in the residence halls and engage in learning around a specific academic topic or special interest. In 2019, we'd hoped to increase our offerings of these communities. After just a few years, one of which was a pandemic year, we expect to offer six living learning communities during the 2022-23 academic year. We are thrilled about the student response and our ability to offer this source of social and academic engagement."
Rachel Wojnicki is an editor of Newsline and the internal communications manager for University Marketing and Communications.