By Jordan Unger
Kate Fitzgerald was appointed as the new Director of Housing and Residence Life at Youngstown State University this semester on Sept. 1. She’s replacing former director Danielle Meyer, who took a job at the University of Missouri.
Ian Tanner, associate director of Housing and Residence Life, said he was initially worried by Meyer’s departure.
“[Meyer] was here at the university for roughly 16 years,” Tanner said. “So whenever you lose someone with that type of experience, that type of YSU knowledge, it’s a little nerve-wracking.”
Tanner said Fitzgerald has the experience needed to fulfill the position.
“We wanted to find someone who can step in and instantly fill those gaps and fill that void,” Tanner said. “I think Kate does that.”
Fitzgerald worked at the University of Iowa for 13 years, where she was in charge of residence education. Fitzgerald said she supervised resident assistants, professional staff and student learning communities.
This experience will come in handy for her new position at YSU, she said.
“We have some academic learning communities here at Youngstown, and they’re pretty new,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we can make them a lot stronger and make them a much better experience for our students.”
Prior to her starting date, Fitzgerald came to YSU for move-in weekend in August to interact with students and parents. Tanner said he was impressed by this.
“She was not paid,” Tanner said. “She was just here, which is fantastic. She was willing to travel here all the way from Iowa for move-in.”
Tanner said he looks forward to seeing what Fitzgerald will bring to the residence education program, and knows she intends on keeping the residence halls a happy, comfortable and safe place for students.
This is important, because students who live on campus are spending a majority of their time in and around the residence halls when they aren’t in class.
Fitzgerald will hold meetings with students to discuss their experiences, both good and bad, in the residence halls. She wants to be proactive by reaching out to these students, so she can assess their needs.
To make the residence halls more secure, Fitzgerald wants to require students to swipe their YSU ID before entering, an idea that was considered in previous years.
Andreial Tyson, a resident assistant at YSU, said she thinks Fitzgerald will succeed as the new director.
“She seems very nice,” Tyson said. “She’s still learning about us as a whole, but I think once [Fitzgerald] gets to know us all and our different personalities, she’ll be just fine.”
Fitzgerald said the RA staff at YSU is on the right path.
“By looking at the activities that they’ve planned at the beginning of the year to get people to get to know each other, the work they did with move-in and the stuff they’ve been doing with on-call and instances in the residence halls so far, they seem like they’re pretty on top of stuff,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said she has been pleased with the campus and its people.
“I have been pleasantly surprised that Ohioans are extremely polite and very nice,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like walking through campus here, more people say hello to me, and I’m a total stranger to all of them.”
If students in the residence halls have any questions or concerns, Fitzgerald said her office door is always open.