Some days it’s early to rise, others it’s conversations until 3 a.m. One thing is certain: there is no “typical” day in residence life–just ask Kristen Landaal and Mark Hargrove, MSOE’s first on-campus residence hall directors.

“Living on campus with students as an MSOE employee makes for a unique work environment,” said Landaal. The Racine, Wisconsin native is well-acquainted with the university, having previously interned at MSOE while pursuing her undergraduate degree in communication at Cardinal Stritch and master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Illinois State University.

Hargrove, originally from Gurnee, Illinois, has a background in social work. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his master’s from Loyola University in Chicago.
“It took some adjusting, getting back into college life,” he said. 

Hargrove shares his time between Margaret Loock Residence Hall and the honors floor of the Grohmann Tower, while Landaal oversees Regents and Roy W. Johnson Residence Halls.

“Living in a residence hall creates an experience for students unlike any other living environment,” Landaal said. “It’s really a unique opportunity to live with almost 900 other 18- to 22-year-olds who are going through the same thing—navigating college and figure out who they are and where they want to be.”

Residence hall directors are responsible for creating an environment that encourages students to learn and grow with one another as they develop their identity and discover their passions—in and out of the classroom.
“We also advocate for students at a level where I feel there needs to be continued support,” said Hargrove.

This support takes many shapes, from supervising and training resident advisors (RAs)—the student leaders in the halls who create programs to build a sense of community—to attending campus programs and athletic events.

“I see students at their highest and their lowest, most vulnerable points,” Landaal said. “Being with them on their college journey as a support is a privilege.”

Sharing experiences, as well as a physical space, result in students being more connected to the campus community, and generally more engaged in their academic pursuits. Themed-floors—a newer development in the residence halls—helps to strengthen this connection.

“The residents of the outdoor and robotics-themed floors are planning some fun events and co-curriculars around those interests,” Landaal said.

Meanwhile students in Hargrove’s residence halls are partnering with other campus departments to raise funds and collect supplies for charitable causes. “Students form bonds within their floor communities,” Hargrove said, “But there is also the opportunity to get involved and make a difference.”

Being a part of students’ growth as they embrace new opportunities is part of what makes being a hall director rewarding, Hargrove said. And as for conversations during the wee-hours of the morning—“I enjoy them.”