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Student involvement key,says new residential life director

By : Saraha Lifshin

Terrence “Terry” Webb brings 25 years of experience in collegiate residential living to his new position as director of residential life. Webb began his new job this summer.
Terrence "Terry" Webb has learned one thing for certain after 25 years of running housing operations at three college campuses -- students must be involved in the process.

"It's not only important, it's imperative," said Webb, who was appointed Binghamton University's new residential life director August 1, overseeing the campus--seven colleges and housing operations.

Webb, a native of Illinois, most recently was director of housing at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Prior to Kent State, Webb oversaw residential housing at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks for 21 years.

Webb said he knew when he was an undergraduate student at North Dakota that he wanted to work with college students. He taught private school immediately after receiving a bachelor's degree from North Dakota in 1969.

However, after returning to North Dakota in the early 1970s to begin graduate work in counseling, he decided to pursue a career in campus housing.

"There was going to be no issues of parents and I would be able to work with students on a person-to-person basis," he said.

He received a master's degree from North Dakota in counseling before accepting a position at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston as a residence hall director overseeing 450 students. He became associate director of housing there within five years.

Webb then returned to North Dakota, becoming the college's director of housing--running its residence hall and apartment operations, childcare center, food service and campus identification process.

In 1998, Webb accepted a position at Kent State, where the institution tapped him to lead its $155 million renovation and construction project to expand its then 14 residence halls to 28 buildings.

Webb said it was the first time he involved students, staff and faculty in the project's construction and design.

"They are an incredible resource," Webb said. "You always want to get the customers involved from the beginning. It is essential that they are part of it. The students help with the path to success."

However, after remaining at his first job for two decades, Webb said he didn't want to stay that long again. He decided to move on last year, before the Kent State construction project was completed.

Webb said he was attracted to BU's campus layout, where the residence halls surround the main campus. He said it is the best he has ever seen. "This is a model campus design," he said.

He believes that the close proximity of the halls to main buildings leads to a positive quality of life, which has helped the college to maintain more than an 80 percent student retention rate.

"Wherever you are on campus you can see the halls," Webb said. "This is one of the most successful residence communities that I have ever seen. And the University has a high-valued history behind it. It is fantastic and enviable. This is what has made it work."

Webb has no immediate plans at the University other than to learn about the Binghamton area, SUNY and New York state. "I always thought that if it's not broke, don't fix it," he said. "But there are always way to improve things a bit."
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Last Updated: 10/14/08