As members of the University of Tennessee Volunteer family, we at University Housing practice creativity, ingenuity, and forward-thinking collaboration as tools necessary to accomplish our goals and make an impact in the lives of residents. The opening of Stokely Family Residence Hall highlighted these fundamental goals as it joined the residence hall family. Housing 684 students, and home to the brand new Fresh Food Company, this almost 400,000 square foot facility opened to residents on Friday, January 6th. As spectacular as this brand new building is, the shiny new dining hall and “Harry Potter” style staircase are not what make a resident’s experience on campus genuine. That role is filled by the staff who manage the building and engage with residents on a daily basis. The staff of the now closed Reese Hall stepped into this role with independence, confidence, and an open-minded attitude.
In October of last year, the Reese staff began planning and coordinating transition details for the move from Reese Hall to Stokely Hall. Factors from parking to elevator usage were considered in order to make the move as smooth as possible for residents. This transition became a reality with a room selection process in November. It was at this point that the staff of Reese Hall, a mere fourteen Resident Assistants, began to realize the nature of moving into a new building and switching residents. According to Hannah Johnson, the Assistant Hall Director of Stokely Hall, the idea of losing residents was a challenge to staff because they “really love building authentic relationships with people.” They combated this challenge as a staff, however, and began bonding as a family through their experiences. According to Hannah, the staff of Stokely is uniquely humorous and deeply strong willed. This is evidenced by their commitment to getting to know their new residents and offering a welcoming environment in the building, all while trying to define what kind of hall Stokely is going to be.
Upon moving into the new building, the RA staff experienced some changes in their team leadership as they prepared to welcome a new hall director, Sam Jackson. In the meantime, first-year grad student Han nah Johnson stepped up to oversee the physical move from one building to the next, as well as supervise the RA staff, advise the residence hall council, and be the professional point of contact for residents living in Stokely. She accepted these responsibilities with a positive attitude and determination, and successfully led her staff and residents through the move. She says this process also allowed the RAs to gain independence and step up the plate to get the job done right. Hannah has displayed the Volunteer spirit through her work, and we would like to especially recognize her for her commitment. As Sam Jackson prepares to lead the team as hall director, we are equally excited to see how the staff of Stokely hall will make a difference in the lives of residents going forward!
Residence life at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a special experience, and those who live on campus know the difference that having a supporting and qualified staff can make. Led by a team of devoted and authentic professionals, the compassionate and caring RA staff is prepared to welcome residents and transform their on-campus experience through hard work. This can be seen through their ability to be flexible, remain calm, and deal with any challenges that may arise in the beautiful Stokely Hall. We are glad to have the staff of Stokely, and would like to say thank you to them for their willingness to go above and beyond their job descriptions.