LSU Residential Life Professional & Student Staff Members Receive State Honors
BATON ROUGE – Five individuals and one educational program from the LSU Department of Residential Life and LSU Police Department were honored at the annual Louisiana Association of Housing Officers, or LAHO, business meeting at the Tall Timbers Conference Center in Westwood, La., during the Equipping Resident Assistants, or ERA, Conference.
The Female Rising Star Award was given to Raylea Burrow, a resident assistant, or RA, in the Honors House majoring in mass communication. In addition to her RA duties, Burrow has worked on the Daily Reveille staff, conducted research for Manship School of Mass Communication and interned for U.S. Rep. Pete Olson. She serves as the president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at LSU and as social chair for the LSU Hispanic Student Cultural Society, all the while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. As an RA, Burrow established close relationships with the women in her hallway and sponsored many popular program events in the Honor House. Demonstrating her commitment to diversity awareness, she developed and implemented the “Salsa Y Salsa” program during Hispanic Heritage Month, which was well attended by her residents and won the South West Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls’ Regional Diversity Program of the Month Award.
The Male Rising Star was awarded to Matt Duris, an RA in Acadian Hall. Matt adapted quickly to his RA responsibilities and quickly established himself as a role model to his residents and colleagues, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Due to his effective leadership, the men in his hall have outstanding participation in campus events, intramurals and community service programs. Even though this is Duris’ first year as an RA, because of his exceptional leadership skills, he was selected to be the lead male RA in the new Leadership & Service Living-Learning Community next year.
The Graduate Student of the Year Award went to Michael Courson, the graduate residence director in the Honors House. Courson is committed to his staff of RAs and has worked with them to streamline the front desk operations in the Honors House, including leading the sustainability efforts moving toward a paperless environment. Courson was selected as the graduate residence director of the year last year and maintains a 4.0 GPA. He recently served as the South West Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls’ conference advisor, and devotes much of his time working as a conduct hearing officer for Student Advocacy and Accountability. His work in this role underscores his dedication to student success, and that he is committed to finding fair solutions to difficult problems that maximize students’ potential for success in the future. Courson oversees the community council for the Honors House and works closely with the Residence Hall Association to help meet the needs of his community. His creative approach to leadership through his videos, movie clips and social media keep his staff engaged and motivated.
The Young Professional Award went to Colby Kinder-Englund, the residence life coordinator, or RLC, in Miller Hall. Kinder-Englund supervises 11 RAs and a graduate student in a building of more than 500 female residents. She chairs the Team Development Committee and, in this role, incorporated the ropes course into spring training, ensured all of her RAs were “Safe Space” certified and will have all of her RAs participating in the “Geaux Baton Rouge” campus-wide service day. Whether working in the areas of diversity, sustainability, team-building, service or supervision, Kinder-Englund is passionate about everything she does, and her enthusiasm is catching on with those she supervises and her colleagues. She was also named the LSU RLC of the Year last year.
The winner of the Staff Development Program of the Year Award was the LSU Team Development Series. Team Development was designed to provide a year-long focus on the mission and values of the university and Residential Life through a series of creative, engaging and educational activities to be used by the 150-plus RAs and 24-plus member professional staff. These activities centered on Residential Life’s six fundamental values: stewardship, ethics, teamwork, community development, integrity and courage. The Team Development Committee developed events that would interest not only residents and Residential Life members, but those throughout the Division of Student Life. The events for each value included: courage – ropes course, community development – Geaux BIG Baton Rouge community service project in collaboration with LSU campus partners, teamwork – Battleship tournament in collaboration with University Recreation, integrity – Safe Space ally training, ethics – “What Would You Do?,” and stewardship – resource relay.
LSU was the winner of the Always Hallway Award for the “Adopt a Hall” collaborative program with LSU Police Department, recognizing the exceptional participation of Officer James Pittman. Residential Life and LSU Police embarked on a collaborative effort to better the relationship existing between the two departments and developed a pilot plan that launched in spring 2013. The goal was for each department to better understand each other’s policies and practices to strengthen their working relationships. The foundation of the “Adopt a Hall” program was for an officer to be assigned to a community and build relationships with students with visits during non-crisis times. Pittman was one of the six LSU PD officers that volunteered for the program, and was instrumental in the program’s success. Additionally, Pittman developed a yearly collaboration calendar of events for Residential Life and LSU PD to continue building their relationship, and developed a form to help students keep track of model and serial numbers for their electronics. Pittman is dedicated to helping develop and grow the successful relationship between LSU PD and Residential Life.
With nine Louisiana universities present, representing thousands of students living on-campus throughout the state, the LAHO ERA Conference recognized the LSU professional and student staff’s commitment to excellence in serving more than 4,800 on-campus residents. The LSU Department of Residential Life develops campus living communities that support and enhance the educational mission on the university and promote the student’s intellectual and personal development through facilities, programs, activities and services that reflect the highest standards of college housing organizations internationally. To learn more, visit www.lsu.edu/housing, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225-578-8663.