Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Housing Director Enjoys Challenges in Position

By Courtney Westlake

He might not be here at 8:30 in the morning, but you can probably find him on campus at 8:30 at night. And getting a page at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning isn't atypical either.

John Ringle has been the director of housing and residential life at UIS for five years, coming in with the second class of Capital Honors students. Since arriving, he has seen tremendous change throughout the campus in terms of residential buildings.

"Every year since I've been here, there has been a new construction project in housing on campus," he said.

Ringle became involved with housing while working at a job moving furniture into overflow spaces as a temporary employee at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He became a resident director there, which also led him to Utah State and Boise State in directing positions, before coming to UIS.

"UIS fit what I was looking for in terms of a growing program and getting the opportunity to be a part of something that was growing over the next decade," he said. "And we're still growing."

UIS housing services includes the townhouses, apartments and Lincoln Residence Hall, in addition to the new residence hall currently under construction, Founders Hall, which will include a new bookstore, cafe and even classrooms. There is also a future goal for another residential building in 2010, compliant with the university's strategic plan, Ringle said.

"UIS' mission is to become one of the best small, public, liberal arts universities in the state, if not the country, and our job as housing is to make sure that mission gets supported," he said.

Though his day often runs anywhere from 9-12 hours, and he maintains constant communication with on-call staff, Ringle said he enjoys the challenges the job brings. He is quick to give recognition to his staff members, whom he says are very reliable and competent.

"I think probably the thing I like best is that it is ever-changing and ever-evolving," Ringle said. "No day is every the same. There is always a new challenge every day of the week, and sometimes the weekends."

One of the main reasons Ringle decided to get into the housing field was to have an impact on students, he said.

"Research shows that students who live on campus tend to persist to graduation, have higher GPA's and have a greater experience as a part of living on campus," he said. "You can't beat the fact that you're closer to faculty, staff, athletics - all the things that make the traditional four-year campus experience remarkable in terms of a student development perspective."