The Daily Northwestern

New Residential Life director to focus on residents’ academic success

Deb Schmidt-Rogers

Source: Deb Schmidt-Rogers

Deb Schmidt-Rogers

Emily Chin, Reporter

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Deb Schmidt-Rogers, Northwestern’s new director of Residential Life, believes college students, no matter the era or background, all have similar goals.

“They want to make meaning of their lives, they want positive relationships and they want to make a difference,” she said. “I think sometimes people will say, ‘You went to Northwestern. Students are very different there.’ And yes, they are incredibly bright and challenged, but they still want all of those things.”

Schmidt-Rogers, who was hired over the summer, became interested in 18- to 23-year-olds as an undergraduate at Loyola University Chicago, where she studied biology. She then studied counseling psychology and higher education as a graduate student, also at Loyola. She said she wants to bring her knowledge to NU and form positive relationships with students and organizations such as Counseling and Psychological Services and University Police. But she also wants to get to know NU first.

“I know how to be a good director of residential life, I just don’t know how to do that at Northwestern yet,” she said.

Most of Schmidt-Rogers’ work on campus so far has been in training resident assistants. Her goals for them for this year include focusing on community development, engaging with residents and helping residents succeed academically.

“People come to Northwestern because they want to do something, and it’s our job to make sure students have the right atmosphere to do that,” she said.

She also hopes to provide students with skills for mediating conflicts and dealing with difficult classes and issues surrounding alcohol use.

Paul Riel, executive director of Residential Services, said of all the applicants for Schmidt-Rogers’ position, she stood out for her 30 years of experience and commitment to students. Schmidt-Rogers has spent the last 21 years working at DePaul University, the last 12 of which she served as the director of residential education. She is also the inclusion and equity director of the Association of College and University Housing Officers – International.

“She certainly works well with students, she’s certainly passionate about her job,” Riel said.

But Schmidt-Rogers said she hasn’t always been interested in residential education. As an undergraduate at Loyola, she majored in biology and spent a lot of time in the library.

“I spent a lot of time studying, and it wasn’t until I was an RA that I began to explore a different side of myself,” she said.

She became a RA during her senior year in college and realized she was good at the job, she said, adding her mentors told her she would be a good leader in college residential life.

Riel said he is “thrilled” to have Schmidt-Rogers on the Residential Services staff.

Paul Hubinsky, senior assistant director of Residential Services, who works under Schmidt-Rogers’ supervision, echoed Riel’s thoughts.

“She has high energy too, which has been great,” Hubinsky said. “It really helps the staff team get really excited about what we do.”