Feb 242003
Authors: Anthea Mustari

Members of the Residence Hall Association and other CSU community members welcomed Mary Ellen Sinnwell as the new director of Residence Life Monday.

Sinwell came to CSU from the University of Iowa, where she served as the manager of Residence Life.

As director, Sinnwell will be responsible for “providing leadership and development of a strong residence life program,” said Jim Dolak, executive director of housing and food services. She will oversee approximately 4,800 students between CSU’s 10 residence halls and nearly 200 staff members.

Sinnwell is very excited to be at CSU and said one of the first things she wants to do is evaluate the department staff and their duties to assure they are doing an “efficient and quality job” for the residents of the halls.

She said she is happy to have taken the position partially because of the broader range of duties and responsibilities she will have in the department of housing and food services at CSU in comparison to her previous position.

Members of the RHA, the governing board for the residence halls on campus, are excited to have Sinnwell on board.

“What is important for us is that Mary Ellen is going to bring a lot of new ideas and a renewed focus to students and residence life in general,” said Luke O’Dell, a sophomore history major and president of RHA.

RHA had a role in selecting Sinnwell as the new director. Jennifer Carpenter served as the RHA student representative on the selection committee. She was a full-voting member and O’Dell said Carpenter helped read applications, interviewed candidates via teleconference and participated in the candidates’ campus tours.

The position came open when David McKelfresh, CSU’s previous director of Residence Life, accepted a newly-created position as director of staff development and assessment for the department of housing and food services at CSU. However, Dolak said the position was never vacant because McKelfresh stayed on as director of Residence Life until Sinnwell officially started.

Three finalists for the position, including Sinnwell, were announced shortly after Thanksgiving, Sinnwell was offered the position Dec. 19 and officially took over duties Feb. 3.

Sinnwell said she anticipates her relationship with RHA to be one of collaboration and is excited to be working with its members. She said she has made a commitment to RHA and will be present at many of its meetings.

Not only does Sinnwell plan to have a relationship with RHA, she said she also plans to be in contact with many other residence hall residents. She said students should plan on seeing her on their floors and in their halls because she wants to find out what they want and what they need and wants to create “open lines of communication.”

Sinnwell received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Drake University and later earned a master’s in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University.

O’Dell said RHA is looking forward to working with Sinnwell on many upcoming projects, including the new residence hall that is scheduled to open in the fall of 2004.

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