Stanford rector reflects on time with residents
Selena Ponio | Monday, September 4, 2017
With a diverse repertoire of previous addresses including locations such as Texas and Iraq, Justin McDevitt now calls Stanford Hall home.
McDevitt, the current rector of Stanford Hall, is starting his second year in the dorm. Hailing from Conroe, Texas, McDevitt went to college at the University of Houston and law school at the University of Loyola Chicago. He came to Notre Dame to pursue a Ph.D in political science, when he suddenly discovered a different passion, he said.
“I had been TA-ing and I co-taught a course, and I was about to enter into the period when I needed to stop teaching and just hide in the library for a year and a half for my dissertation,” McDevitt said. “I decided that that wasn’t my passion. My passion was to work with students.”
McDevitt said he came to this realization with the help of Fr. Sean McGraw, political science professor and the co-founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). McGraw brought up the possibility of McDevitt becoming a rector, which at the time McDevitt knew nothing about. However, once he heard the description, he said, he was sold.
“The first year was great,” McDevitt said. “I’m kind of spoiled — we had an incredible rector before, and so the hall was in great shape. He was just a very well-respected guy.”
McDevitt said his first year was a great year for Stanford. The hall claimed two titles: interhall football champions and Hall of the Year.
“When we won Hall of the Year there were 150 guys in the back waiting for us,” he said. “It was really a triumphant, really special moment.”
Before becoming a rector, McDevitt completed years of higher education and worked as a cost analyst for a government contractor at their headquarters in Baghdad. However, he said, he feels like he has finally found the perfect job fit.
“My first day as rector, a first-year from the Middle East asked me to help him do his laundry, and I realized that I went from teaching political parties to teaching kids how to do laundry — and I was fine with that,” he said. “I am teaching. I’m teaching life instead of political science.”
McDevitt is excited to bring the role of a rector to the forefront, he said, and show that it is a crucial role where someone is dedicating their lives to students. McDevitt said he believes he likes this aspect so much because of the people that have surrounded him during his life.
“I’ve had so many great people in my life, and if I look back on my own experiences the parts where I learned the most were kind of everyday life experiences,” he said. “I learned a lot of important things in the classroom, but really so much of life happens outside the classroom. For a lot of these guys the rector is the teacher for the rest of the time. Rather than having students for three hours a week, I have them for everything but three hours a week.”
McDevitt said after years of study and work he finally feels like he is at a point where he is confident and passionate about what he is doing.
“I feel like after 24 years of higher education, I’ve been to at least two countries on every continent, this is where I’m home,” he said.