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Joe Rolón leaves to direct student life at Princeton

Joe+Rolon%2C+director+of+residence+life%2C+is+leaving+the+college+at+the+end+of+the+semester.+He+will+be+directing+student+life+at+Princeton+University.%0APhoto+contributed
Joe Rolon, director of residence life, is leaving the college at the end of the semester. He will be directing student life at Princeton University. Photo contributed

By Sarah Licht
lichtsar@grinnell.edu

At the end of this spring semester, Joe Rolón, director of residence life, will leave for a new position at Princeton University. In his new role, Rolón will serve as Director of Student Life.

“[Princeton] doesn’t have the typical residence life position. It has components of student activities, case management, counseling and conduct,” Rolón said. This means that Rolón will have a similar position at Princeton when compared to the one he has here at the College, despite the change in title.

“I’m looking forward to it because most of my career, prior to this time, has really just been in residence life. I think one of the good things about Grinnell is [that] I got to put my feet in different aspects of student affairs,” Rolón said.

Another aspect of the Princeton position that piqued Rolón’s interest was its location. “I’m a native New Jerseyan, and so, being in Princeton, I’ll only be an hour away from my parents,” Rolón said, “And, while Iowa is great, I grew up in a very urban area, so I’m just excited to be going home.”

As for Rolón’s legacy, he is proud of several accomplishments here at the College. “I think my biggest achievement here at Grinnell has been my interactions with the students. I think, with regard to Residence Life, formalizing a lot of things,” Rolón said. Rolón was involved in the transition of the Student Advisor position, which had been previously a volunteer and then stipend-supported position, to the more formal role of Community Advisors. With the shift in title and role, Community Advisors now receive free room in exchange for their work.

Looking at the future of the College, Rolón said he hopes that his successor understands the same things that working at the College taught him. “Grinnell was the only institution I worked at where I could see myself as an educator, and that, because of working with Grinnellians, the student voice is very important. You can never decide without hearing, truly hearing and listening to, what the students need,” Rolón said.

The College is now in the process of finding Rolón’s replacement. Ben Newhouse, dean of students, is among those in charge of filling the position.

“The process when we have an opening is typically to post the position nationally, and then to explore our candidates and see who are good fits for the position,” Newhouse said. As the faculty narrows the search for our new Director of Residential Life, student voices will also be heard to ensure that the best-fit person gets the position. “Our finalists are brought to campus to get to know our great community at Grinnell and also to connect with students. Our goal is to have these things done before the end of the term so our CAMs [community advisor mentors] can get to meet the different candidates,” Newhouse said.

Although the exact finalists have not been selected yet, Newhouse says the College has key attributes it is looking for. The College wants someone with a background in residence life and a clear vision of the way they want the residential community to look, he said. Perhaps most important is finding someone who, “can bring everyone on board,” Newhouse said. “We are excited for Joe. We’re sad to see him go, but we’re proud of the role he’s moving into,” Newhouse said.

Joe Rolon, director of residence life, is leaving the college at the end of the semester. He will be directing student life at Princeton University.
Photo contributed
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