When he first arrived at Callahan Hall, Dr. Dan Nadler said he didn’t know what to expect since he hadn’t lived on a campus in some time.
“When you go from a relatively good sized home with a yard and garage, then here you are in a two bedroom, one bath apartment, you wonder, ‘Can I do this? Can I be happy in that environment?’” Nadler said. “I think this has shown me I still have the ability and capability to adjust myself into different environments.”
Nadler, VP of Student Affairs at NKU, and his family have lived on campus since the beginning of the fall semester, along with their dog.
“It’s like being a student again, but you have to dress up every day,” Nadler said. “It’s really been an incredible experience to get to know some of the students locally.”
Nadler’s stay on campus is part of a program, referred to as a staff apartment that NKU runs for new administrators or faculty. The program is meant to help them adjust to the campus, connect with students and meet other staff members, according to Arnie Slaughter, the Director of University Housing.
Slaughter, who was the Woodcrest Apartment’s hall director in the past, said the faculty residence program has been in existence since 2008. He explained that there are different reasons for a staff member to live on campus.
For Nadler, because he is new to NKU, his stay on campus is meant to help him transition to NKU from their previous college institution. It’s a temporary stay, but necessary so he can adjust and make connections with students and staff.
“The number one priority is getting them to know the students,” Slaughter said. “To have that person immersed on campus is a great opportunity for them to feel connected.”
Slaughter said the program has been successful and called it a “great benefit” to have admins, faculty and staff be a part of the student experience.
He said it gives students an opportunity to feel welcome on campus and potentially find a mentor. They get to see individuals invested in their growth and development.
A family affair
When he transitioned in a month before his family, Nadler said it was quiet because the semester hadn’t started yet. During this time, he had the opportunity to meet the summer residence assistants in addition to staff members.
As fall semester grew closer, students moved into Callahan Hall. He said it was a busy time getting everything ready, but called the transition “smooth” and “easy.”
In the beginning of the semester, his family moved in with him.
In Callahan, his wife Karen and son Christopher, along with their dog, Baylor, share a two bedroom residential apartment. Nadler said they really enjoy living on campus.
Nadler’s wife has been able to interact with the staff and students. His son has also had an incredible experience living on campus, Nadler said. He’s been able to interact with other students and even played basketball at the rec center with them.
Baylor has become very popular with the students. He said that walking his dog has been a great way of interacting with students. They come up to pet and ask about him.
“My dog has been a magnet for interacting with students,” Nadler said. “I like to say that our dog has become the residence hall mascot.”
Connecting with students
Nadler said he feels being a resident has helped him make a connection to the campus and its students.
“I try to strike conversations with students,” Nadler said. “I ask how their day is going. Sometimes things transpire into talking about their classes, or professional goals, or career aspirations.”
Nadler said that students are always surprised to find out he lives on campus. Many are unaware of his living arrangements at NKU.
“I think some of the residents have gotten to know me in a different way because they see me with my family,” Nadler said. “That’s a different kind of experience and a different environment than talking in an office.”
One such student is Angela O’Neill, a pre-law, international studies major and sophomore, met Nadler last summer as a resident assistant in Callahan.
Nadler said O’Neill was one of the first students he created a connection with when he started living on campus.
“He’s a really nice person to know,” O’Neill said. “He would always come up to me, say hello and ask how I was doing. Even today he still asks how I’m doing.”
O’Neill said that seeing an administrator on campus is encouraging.
“As a resident assistant, I knew I could go to someone for an emergency,” O’Neill said. “As a student, it’s good to know there are people who have more experience and can help me.”
O’Neill said she thinks administrators living on campus definitely creates a relationship between students and staff.
“If you see them on a day to day basis, you know they’re not just there to work,” O’Neill said. “They there to support you. I first thought it was awkward, but you think of them as another friend. Nadler is someone you can go to.”
Going back to school
Nadler said every day he feels like a student and he’s learning, growing and developing along with them.
“I think that’s one of the great things about higher education,” Nadler said. “Every day I have a challenge in helping and supporting students in doing that.”
Walking through the doors of a residence hall is a reminder that he’s not only working in this environment, he’s living in it as well, Nadler said.
“Everything becomes a living, learning experience,” Nadler said. “I think that’s something people don’t realize take place outside the classroom. How much of the residential experience contributes to that happening.”
He said that he also learned that students need appropriate living conditions to help them have a great living experience.
Nadler said there’s really nothing like the urgency of a living environment along with things like having hot water and good meals and a roommate you can have a good conversation with without conflict.
“These are all just basic elements that are just important because if they’re not clicking and they’re not working well students can’t concentrate in class,” Nadler said. “They can’t study in their room. They can’t be satisfied with their experience.”
He said that navigating through the student campus experience has been helpful to see through their perspective.
“Really, it has refocused my attention and reminded me of how important the residential experience is and how timely things need to be,” Nadler said.
Staying on campus isn’t always a full-time job for Nadler. In his free time, he said he likes to spend time with his family doing activities like attending sporting games together. He said he goes to the rec center and plays basketball when he can.
He likes to take a walk on campus as a part of his quiet time, he said.
But his time and experience living on campus will come to an end soon.
Sometime in the coming weeks, Nadler and his family will be moving off of NKU’s campus but will find a home close to school. He will still remain as the VP of student affairs.
Nadler said he will miss the informal interactions he had with students and staff.
“My departure day will be bittersweet and sad,” Nadler said.