On July 18, 2011, Brenda Ice became the new Director of Residential Life on campus. Ice held several jobs prior to her position at Colgate, and she also has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education. She completed her Masters at Salisbury University and went right into a job as Area Director in Housing and Residence Life after graduation. Afterward, she worked under similar titles at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and Towson University.
After working in residential life positions at several different institutions, Ice discovered that she felt a much greater connection with the students and staff at smaller, private liberal arts colleges. At the time when she heard about the job offer at Colgate, she was in a position at a campus of 21,000 students.
“When I saw that Colgate had an opening, I jumped at the chance,” Ice said. “So far, I have not been disappointed.”
Her interview took place on campus from May 25 to 26 last spring. At the onset, Ice was impressed by the Colgate attitude, comfort and sincerity.
“During the interview, I thought they were ‘just being nice’ but have quickly learned that it’s simply the ‘Colgate Way,'” Ice said.
Colgate was a terrific match for Ice, and so it appears that Ice is a seamless fit for the college. She describes her attitude in the Office of Residential Life as one of “an appreciative inquiry leadership approach,” in which she not only leads and lectures but also listens to her staff and the needs of the campus.
She spent her first few weeks at Colgate surveying the office and transitioning to her new position.
Ice’s transition, however, was by no means a passive one. She entered the staff during a chaotic period of pressure and activity in the Office of Residential Life. When asked what the staff had been up to since her arrival, Ice provided an extensive list of tasks that were by no means simple or quickly accomplished. Ice had to deal with staff hires, summer housing, professional staff training, early arrivals, student staff training, room inspections, Welcome Weekend and Hurricane Irene.
Another aspect of Reslife that Ice is getting used to is the Colgate University Points System, which is new to everyone this year. Although Ice was not here when the system was planned or put into place, she said that she can, “see the value in a system like this and will work to support that goal.” The on-campus policy change to the Points System was not unlike her recent transition to Colgate, and she offered significant insight about the system from her office.
“Students should not get caught up in the number of points they receive but rather about the behavior they present that results in the points,” Ice said. “As with anything that is new, the Points System will take some getting used to on the part of the students and staff.”
Brenda Ice plans on building a great relationship between the students of Colgate and the Office of Residential Life. Her experience in this field appears to suggest this plan will soon be a reality.
“My goal is simple. I want to create an environment where students, faculty, staff and parents feel supported and connected to us with each interaction they have with a member of our staff,” Ice said.
Contact Taylor Fleming at [email protected]