Office of Housing and Residential Education welcomes three new faculty members

By Elena Naze

The college’s Office of Housing and Residential Education fully restaffed for the spring semester following over a year of consistent overturn.

OHRE hired two new Residence Directors, Ashley Gravina for 2 Boylston Place and Cristina Flores for Paramount Center. The department also hired an Associate Director of Residential Education, Danielle Merril, who began work at the beginning of the spring 2020 semester.

The new hires arrive after the college consistently struggled during the fall semester to fill a group of vacancies in the department. Last fall, The Beacon reported that five vacancies in OHRE led to the adjustment of the structure of the department. Former Senior Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life Seth Hodge then left the office on Jan. 2. The department later dealt with a tumultuous housing process in Spring 2019 after StarRez, the college’s housing software, crashed.

Director of Housing and Residential Education Christie Anglade, whom the college hired in November, said changes regarding in-residence director positions and others in the Housing Department are common as staff members frequently progress onto other institutions. Anglade said that the department has struggled as a result of the vacancies.

“Any time you don’t have everybody there’s always going to be a little strain,” Anglade said in an interview. “Everyone’s working a little bit longer hours, everyone is picking up to carry that space.”

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However, Anglade added that new hires bring new ideas and personalities into the department.

“It’s great to have new ideas [and] fresher perspectives to come in to both learn about our community but also to provide some of the knowledge and experience that they have at other institutions and see how they can impact our population,” she said.

Merril, who previously worked at Michigan State University’s housing department, told The Beacon that she still is adjusting to her new position at Emerson. At Michigan State, Merril supervised upwards of 1,000 students and Resident Assistants.

“I am loving every minute of it,” Merril said. “Coming from [Michigan State] being able to be at an institution like Emerson where you see the same people and you get to build really solid relationships, everyone has just been friendly and welcoming so it’s been great.”

Flores previously worked at Berklee College of Music, where she ran the smallest and most remote residence hall on campus—similar to Paramount.

Flores is planning to work with the RAs to create new traditions in Paramount. Most recently, she helped create a succulent pot painting program to gain volunteer donations for Australia during their wildfire crisis.

Gravina worked at the University of Connecticut for two and a half years as an RD, where she managed a suite-style dorm building similar to 2 Boylston Place.

She said her past experience in a similar role makes her a strong fit for the RD position.

“[Emerson] is very student-centred and student-focused,” Gravina said. “I think that’s the beautiful ethic of care when it comes to how we interact with students, which is really awesome and something I value.”

Gravina is the final member of OHRE to settle into Emerson. The department is now functioning at full capacity.

“The team is very excited to be at a point where we are fully staffed that allows us to direct the appropriate amount of time and attention to the students in our communities,” Anglade said.