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Seven dormitory rectors opt to leave University posts

Kate Antonacci | Friday, May 13, 2005

Seven rectors have notified the Office of Student Affairs that they will not be returning to their posts next fall, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Sister Jean Lenz said.

“They are leaving for all different reasons,” Lenz said. “It is really more than usual. I think last year we only had one or two leave.”

Kathleen Brannock of Howard Hall, Rebecca Davidson of Breen-Philips Hall, Sister Patricia Dearbaugh of Cavanaugh Hall, Heather Rakoczy of Pangborn Hall, Beth Skinner of McGlinn Hall, Father J. Steele of Morrissey Manor and Sister Patricia Thomas of Walsh Hall will all be leaving.

Three, however, are leaving their positions in the dorms to assume new roles in the University.

“The one thing I know that I think is exciting is that there are three of them that are getting great new jobs on campus,” Lenz said.

Rakoczy will be directing the Gender Relations Center, Brannock will be serving as assistant director of the Office of Residence Life and Housing and Steele will be working at the Vocation Center.

Thomas has accepted a position as Director of Campus Ministry at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn., a school founded by the Dominican Congregation of St. Mary of the Springs, her own order.

“It made good sense that I would be with my own Sisters,” Thomas said. “I did not want to stop working with college-age students, and this new ministry offered me an opportunity to use so many of the experiences I had had during my eight years at Walsh Hall that it was hard to resist.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman requires all rectors to notify the University if they plan to continue serving as a rector by February, allowing the University to begin a national search for a replacement if necessary, Lenz said.

When finding new rectors, the Office of Student Affairs looks for individuals with a depth of experience in ministry, student personnel or counseling, Lenz said.

“We also look for people who have a Masters in education or any related field,” she said.

This year, after advertising the open positions, Student Affairs received 92 applications for the seven spots – “a very high number,” Lenz said.

After reviewing applications, 12 individuals were then brought in for full-day interviews.

“They meet with members of the senior staff, but also representatives, a couple of current rectors, [assistant rectors], students,” Lenz said.

New rectors are chosen based on how well the committee thinks they would fit in with a certain dorm.

“Once [Poorman] makes the appointment of the individual to a specific hall, then he sends information about that hall to the new rector with the names of his or her staff, who the assistants are and who the [resident assistants] are,” Lenz said. “I think Father Poorman and senior staff try to put people into where they think will best fit.”

The job of notifying hall residents of the change in hall staff is left to the outgoing rectors.

“E-mails and personal visits helped me to get the news out to everyone,” Thomas said. “In telling the WILD Women of Walsh about my decision, I experienced the same kinds of emotions they did. For the seniors, it was just as though we were all getting to start new lives; for the freshmen, it was ‘Why us, why now?’ It was all very normal. Hard at times, exciting at other times.”

While excited about the future, Thomas said she would miss her position at Notre Dame.

“Leaving Notre Dame is hard because I have made so many friends, created so many memories and experienced a richness that I know I won’t find anywhere else any time soon,” Thomas said. “But Notre Dame is everywhere and reaches out to her students and graduates and family members in ways that no one ever realized were possible until it happens.”