A rich history of housing, tradition, and the on-campus Aggie experience at Texas A&M University.
History matters to us in Residence Life. This remains true as we know the role we play in housing the Aggie Spirit. Tradition is part of our history as Aggies, and some of the first started on campus. Review a brief history of how our department started.
The Beginning of Texas A&M
During approximately the first eighty years of Texas A&M’s existence it was an all male military school, with all enrolled students required to join the Corps of Cadets. During that time the Commandant of the Corps performed most of the traditional “Dean of Student” functions.
When Texas A&M made membership in the Corps optional in 1963 and began unrestricted admission of female students in September, 1969, a much more diverse student body was attracted to the campus. The Commandant of Cadets continued to supervise all activities related to the Corps. The chief student affairs officer for the University was the Dean of Students. Supervision of the student activities and services of the campus as well as student discipline were major roles of the Dean of Student’s Office. A Dean of Men and a Dean of Women reported to the Dean of Students. A Housing Manager ran the central housing office while area counselors/advisors were located in the geographic areas of the residence halls.
A Growing University and Residential Community
In 1973, due to tremendous enrollment growth, the University saw the need to create a vice president level position to oversee all student service functions of the campus. In August 1973, Dr. John Koldus became the first Vice President for Student Services. Dr. Koldus spent the first six months at Texas A&M studying the existing functions and student services needs of the University. The primary goal of the study was to design a Division of Student Services that would adequately meet the needs for a student population that was rapidly growing and expanding. His report to the President in 1974 served as the “blueprint” around which the Division of Student Services was designed and built.
In 1974 the Dean of Men’s office, the Dean of Women’s office and all the offices that served functions related to on campus housing (except for Married Student Apartments) were combined into one department called the Department of Student Affairs. The department originally was headed up by a director, an associate director who was responsible for student discipline and civilian student activities, an assistant director in charge of the housing office and an assistant director who essentially filled many of the former roles of the Dean of Women. Area Coordinator positions were created to supervise the activities of the students in the residence halls.
Between 1974-1994, the Department of Student Affairs evolved and grew into an operation that performed most of the roles of the typical Department of Housing and Dean of Students offices combined. Student Affairs was actively involved in all the housing needs for both on and off campus students. Other functions of the department included student discipline, legal assistance, student life orientation, special events housing, student withdrawals, alcohol and drug awareness/educational programming, Support Services for Students with Disabilities, women’s programming, adult/non-traditional and graduate student services, rape prevention and security, Silver Taps, critical incident follow-up, student mediation, general counseling and advising, and a general referral/clearinghouse office for student concerns relating to the entire University.
Residence Life Became a Department
In February, 1994, Dr. Malon Southerland was appointed by Interim President Dean Gage as Vice President for Student Services. In January, 1995, as a result of organizational changes made by incoming President Dr. Ray Bowen, financial control of residence halls and University Apartments (family housing) was transferred to Vice President Southerland. Soon after his appointment, Dr. Southerland changed the name of the division from Student Services to Student Affairs, divided the Department of Student Affairs and created two new departments-Residence Life and Student Life. The new Department of Residence Life centralized, for the first time, all housing related functions into one administrative unit (except for Corps Housing which continued to report to the Commandant and Cain Hall which continued to report to Athletics). The new Department of Residence Life reported directly to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.
Upon Dr. Southerland’s retirement in August, 2003, Dr. William Kibler, who, at the time was serving as one of two Associate Vice Presidents, was appointed as Interim Vice President of Student Affairs by President Robert Gates. Dr. Kibler served in the Interim Vice President of Student Affairs role until his appointment as Vice President for Student Affairs at Mississippi State University in June, 2004.
In June, 2004, Dr. Dean Bresciani was appointed by President Robert Gates as Vice President for Student Affairs. Dr. Bresciani served in this role until June 30, 2008. On June 30, 2008 President Elsa Murano appointed Dr. David Parrott as Interim Vice President of Student Affairs. On August 18, 2008 President Elsa Murano appointed LtGen Joe Weber, USMC (Ret.) as Vice President of Student Affairs. After more than five years in portable buildings on the former TAMU Grove site, the Department of Residence Life moved into newly renovated administrative office space in Cain Hall July 2008.
On December 31, 2009 Ron Sasse, Director for Residence Life retired after 33 ½ years. He began work in Residence Life in 1976 as an Area Coordinator and in 1977 was promoted to the Assistant Director for Student Affairs – Housing. In 1979 Mr. Sasse was promoted to the Associate director of Student Affairs and in 1985 became the Director of Student Affairs. In 1995, he became the first Director for Residence Life at Texas A&M University and has held that position until his retirement this year.
In December 2009, Chareny Rydl was appointed Interim Director for Residence Life. Effective May 1, 2010, Mrs. Chareny Rydl was named the permanent Director. Mrs. Rydl has served Texas A&M University as the Senior Associate Director, an Associate Director, an Assistant Director of Residence Life and a Coordinator of Residence Life.
A Period of Growth
In 2013, the Department of Residence Life opened the first residence hall since the 1980s, Hullabaloo Hall, on the north area of main campus. The residence hall initiated a period of growth and construction for the Department. Opening two new on-campus apartment communities as well. White Creek Apartments brought on-campus housing options to west campus.