The Office of Residence Life has hired two new staff members: Maureen Muckinhaupt, Associate Director of Residence Life for Housing and Operations, and Robert Ippolito, Assistant Director of Residence Life. Ippolito, who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education and a Pennsylvania teaching license, has had over nine years of residence life experience.
Jennifer Foxman, the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, said she was excited to have a new staff member with such a diverse background.
“He brings the creativity and educational focus with him. He’s fun and likes working with students,” Foxman said. “He wants to push us to be the best we can be.”
Ippolito worked as a resident assistant and assistant coordinator while he was an undergraduate at Edinboro University. When he returned for his master’s degree, he was head coordinator, a job which dealt with minor incidents of misconduct and staff safety. After graduating from Edinboro, he worked at Penn State Behrend as a residence life coordinator.
“I’ve had Res Life experience for my whole adult life,” Ippolito said. “I think with the experience I’ve had with the other places, I can bring something different to the table.”
While he is looking forward to gaining new experience from working at a liberal arts college, Ippolito said he is most excited to learn all of Allegheny’s traditions.
“That’s what I’m looking for because that’s what’s important to our students, so it’s important to me,” he said.
Muckinhaupt is returning to Allegheny this year. She worked for Allegheny as an area coordinator before moving to Case Western Reserve University. Foxman talked about the strengths Muckinhaupt brings to the residence life staff as a former Allegheny employee.
“She brings familiarity, plus new tools. She really wanted to come back to Allegheny, and now she’s bringing different experiences with her as well,” Foxman said. “She’s a very detail-oriented person but also a broad thinker. The combination is a great skill set.”
Both Ippolito and Muckinhaupt moved to Allegheny in mid-July, where they underwent orientation and training.
Ippolito said during his training, he learned that one of the most valuable things within the college’s staff was the connections.
“The connection with faculty and staff was phenomenal,” Ippolito said. “I can’t think of another word that describes it. It was wonderful. When I talked to these people I was meeting, it was like I’d known them for years. I’ve never had this awesome of training before. It was fabulous.”
Student staff member and Residence Life Intern Christopher Gaul, ’18, will be working with the new employees to help them with RAs and students.
“I work in the office beside the new additions … to help make sure everything runs smoothly,” Gaul said. “I think that the larger staff definitely allows for the RAs to the do the best job they can. We have a lot of great RAs that, with a proper support system, can really flourish.”
This year, Gaul said he is looking forward to working with the new members of the staff.
“I’m excited to see what the new people in the office can bring to the buildings the RAs are in and to the RAs themselves,” he said. “I’m going to be working alongside the new employees to help them deliver the best experience that they can to students.”
Along with training and introducing the newest residence life members to the student staff, residence life has also been preparing for the upcoming semester. Last fall, the staff had only Foxman and two assistant directors, one of whom was on medical leave, to prepare for the school year. Foxman said that this year, with more staff members who are all committed to the same purpose, she feels prepared for the semester.
“You can’t prepare for everything,” Foxman said. “But we have a team that can respond quickly and respond well. I think having more people who are all connected to the same foundation, it helps. There’s always things they can do to make people feel comfortable and welcome, and the first few days of training with the student staff has only made me feel more confident about [our team].”
One of the challenges Foxman foresees for this year is one she’s been tackling for a while.
“Our challenge always is that we have old facilities that have a lot of character and history,” she said. “We love them, but we also have to make sure that we’re maintaining them in a way that makes people comfortable with an efficient use of resources.”
Foxman said this concern has pushed the staff to find ways to make the buildings feel as comfortable as possible. Working with staff from the Physical Plant Department and housekeeping, reslidence life has been walking through each building to see where improvements can be made.
“Three people are always going to see different things,” Foxman said. “We’ve generated a longer, detailed list, and it has really helped. It takes a lot of time and a lot of people, so we were able to do that now with a larger staff.”
Foxman said that it is important to have staff members who share similar views concerning their job.
“We definitely look for people who are student-centered and are committed to a residential campus,” Foxman said. “They need to understand the importance of building a community and helping people be successful. We need people who are customer service friendly, who look for how we can provide and advocate for the best service possible.”
Muckinhaupt did not respond to emails requesting an interview.