Long time UA employee steps in as Interim Director of Housing
Amanda Kraus, interim director of Housing and Residential Life.
As Interim Executive Director of Residence Life, Amanda Kraus is in charge of providing living and learning opportunities for 7,000 students who live in residence halls at the University of Arizona. She has been acclimating herself to the new role, as the UA continues its search for a permanent director.
In her directorial position, Kraus works as an administrator, seeing how students interact with the department. In an interview, Kraus said, “Ultimately, a residential experience contributes to student success and retention, helps them learn about themselves, living with diverse people, living with other people, learning about the impact they make in the community.”
In addition to providing a safe place to live and managing many campus life features, Residence Life oversees live-in staff, resident assistants, security and custodial staff.
Second-year resident assistant Genevieve Wahlert said she appreciated the continually welcoming environment created by the department.
Kraus engages with faculty to ensure learning opportunities are consistently present in the dorms, allowing students to grow and develop during their time living on campus at the UA.
Kraus highlights the more communicative aspect of her job. Whereas a permanent director might focus steering the department in a specific direction, Kraus said she focuses on “where the department is at, what their priorities are [and] what are the goals that they have.”
Understanding and listening to others are essential parts of her job, as well as identifying how she can be helpful in any given situation. Kraus regularly meets with staff who specialize in different areas of the department.
“A big part of being an interim I think is understanding and listening," she said. "Figuring out what’s important and how I can be helpful.”
At the director level, Kraus feels her job is not as hands on, but rather one that requires her to facilitate communication between Residence Life and the UA as a whole.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Kendall Washington White, wrote in an email that Kraus is “a great colleague and thoughtful leader, and enjoys opportunities to serve the institution, and she cares deeply about the mission of Housing and Residential Life, the people who are employed, and the precious cargo also known as the student residents.”
Some of Kraus’ goals for her time as interim director include creating educated citizens of the campus and providing students with a safe place to learn, grow and explore. These ideas come to fruition through educational and social programs available in the residence halls as well as in specific theme communities.
Students may already be familiar with Kraus’s work around campus. In addition to acting Residence Life director, Kraus is also the director of Disability Resources, working to create a safe and inclusive campus for all students.
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The Disability Resources Center helps students with necessary individual accommodations. As both the director of Residence Life and the DRC, Kraus takes an active role in planning and making certain that buildings on campus are made to support all students.
The DRC also protects the rights of disabled employees--an important service that’s rarely covered on college campuses, according to Kraus.
When it comes to balancing her responsibilities, Kraus gives all the credit to her colleagues. Both Residential Life and the Department of Disability Resources are staffed with "competent and intelligent" workers who aim to ensure a high-quality collegiate experience for all students, she said.
Kraus also remarked on the natural overlap between her roles. As director of the DRC, Kraus had previously worked with Residence Life to figure out ways to accommodate disabled students and secure them a successful experience living on campus.
As interim director, Kraus’s role is not permanent. She mentioned several technical abilities her successor should possess to ensure student success, including a background in student development, new ways to attract students and a desire to increase Residence Life's presence on campus.
Kraus touched on more sensitive aspects as well. She'd like to see someone who demonstrates an appreciation of students. Someone who knows how to support the diverse array of students who live in the residence halls and promote inclusion. Ultimately, Kraus said this person needs to “understands how special … your college years are.”
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