Carianne Meng, director of Student Housing Operations and Planning, hopes the housing process will serve Denison students even better.
What does this position entail? Can you tell us about the Housing Master Planning process?
The Student Housing Operations & Planning Office is responsible for ensuring all students have a housing assignment, the appropriate accommodations for their needs, and are comfortable in their rooms and residence hall. When we talk to families at June Orientation, we explain it like this: Housing takes care of the halls and homes and Residential Communities takes care of the heads and hearts. There is so much that goes on each day in the Housing and Residential Communities offices; together, we help students navigate room assignments, roommate conflicts, billing concerns and more. Donna Davis, our Housing Coordinator, has been at Denison for 22 years and I lean on her experiences and skills.
Denison is undergoing a Housing Master Planning process, which began in 2017-2018 when we selected a highly reputable planning and design firm, established a solid campus planning team, and laid the groundwork for great partnerships. In the fall of 2018, we will continue that work. We’ve been gathering research and information this summer with the help of the RED Corps. Right now, our ambitions for what might happen in residence halls are limited by our physical facilities.
When students return in August, we hope they will share their hopes for their residence halls and houses. We will also spend time in the residence halls in the evenings, and in Slayter for community hours — we hope students will share their experiences with us in those venues, too.
The goal of the Housing Master Plan is to re-imagine our facilities and think creatively about how we’ll meet the needs and interests of current and future Denison students. Additional updates can be found on MyDenison.
Do you have any major visions or goals that you are hoping to implement in the near future?
I want to hear from students and our campus partners to understand the ways all of the moving parts work together. I hope we can improve processes for students and others on campus — everything from getting a new ID, to making a room change.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I am passionate about how residence halls help students build strong communities and lasting relationships. I want to help students design residence halls that help shape their Denison experience in positive ways. I’m excited about the ways my role helps students do this work.
Can you briefly discuss your career background?
I came to Denison in June 2013. As a student, I attended Augustana College, a small, private, liberal arts college on a hill in Rock Island, Ill. At Augustana, I served as a community advisor, sang in a women’s a cappella vocal ensemble, led campus tours and worked in the art history department while finishing my English and sociology majors.
At the end of my college experience, I mentioned to a mentor that I couldn’t imagine leaving college. She wisely suggested I pursue work in higher education and that set me on my path. In 2007, right after graduation, I took my first job in residence life as a hall director at the University of Saint Francis, a small private liberal arts college in Fort Wayne, Ind.
That role was very much like the community coordinator role we have at Denison and led me to pursue my Master’s in higher education administration at McKendree University. After spending several years at the University of Saint Francis, I hoped to return to a fully residential campus — Denison was a great fit.
What skills/experiences do you have in residential communities?
When I joined Denison in 2013, my role had a specific focus on residential facilities and housing operations as well as overseeing the senior apartment communities. I spent a great deal of time inside our residence halls, building strong relationships with students, as well as our partners in building services, physical plant and beyond.
I also spent time alongside students as they managed roommate conflicts, facilities concerns, and various housing processes. I understand that students don’t always know the difference between the Student Housing Office and Residential Communities and just want help, a solution, or a listening ear.
I am excited to see these experiences and relationships come together as I navigate this role. Specifically, I’m excited to think about the ways we can make processes run smoothly and effectively and our partners on campus are excited about that as well.