Extreme Staffing Shortages Impede McPherson Center, Housing & Residence Life


Taylor Simmons

The McPherson Center houses the Housing & Residence Life offices as well as Student Activities offices. Currently, there is only one staff member working in the building.

Staffing shortages currently impact many aspects of campus life, but the spring semester began with an especially rocky start for the staff of the McPherson Center and for Housing & Residence Life.

A few of the recent changes include staff who have left or retired including former Coordinator of Housing Operations Faith Blankenship, who retired on Jan. 7., former Director of Student Activities Calvin Joyner, whose last day was Jan. 26, and former Area Coordinator Brandon Bassham.

On top of these changes, Director of Housing and Residence Life Sam Lopez has been out of office due to illness for the last few weeks.

“We have a small team even when fully staffed, so being down four members has meant that we have had to take on additional duties,” Dean of Students Tracey Wright said.

Area Coordinator and Programming Specialist Alex Crowson is currently the only staff member physically working in the McPherson Center.

“Alex Crowson has been doing a great job of holding down the McPherson Center and being a presence there,” Wright said. “Dylan Johnson has provided assistance in managing some of day-to-day tasks for clubs and organizations and has picked up some extra on-call shifts, as well.”

Additionally, despite illness, Lopez is stepping in to coordinate the residential areas once overseen by Bassham.

Wright has also taken on more roles to help Housing & Residence Life.

“I picked up oversight of the Martin Brock staff members, advising the Emory Activities Board, the Greek Life council, and still provide oversight and support to all student clubs and organizations,” Wright explained. “Sam Lopez and I both experienced a steep learning curve, but I believe that I have made positive headway in helping Housing & Residence Life.”

Wright also mentioned the plans for hiring of new staff members.

“The search is currently underway to hire a new coordinator of housing operations, and we hope to make an offer to someone in the near future,” Wright said.

The positions for a new director of student activities and area coordinator will be posted soon.

Wright is grateful for the overall student response to the current staffing issues.

“I have been particularly touched by the level of understanding extended to me by our students, their parents, and my colleagues during this time ” Wright said. “These changes have required longer hours and quick learning of new skills and procedures, and have required the entire student affairs team to think about how we support one another. I try to be mindful of the impact of these changes on my team and to support and assist them where I can, while also maintaining personal care.”

Wright and Lopez both hope for more of this understanding down the road.

“Our goal is to serve in a way that reduces the impact that students see and feel as we navigate these changes,” Wright added. “While the road was bumpy at first, we hope to have things on a smoother path now.”