For the first time in her 10-year career, Cathy Warner has a baby playpen set up in her office at Calkins Hall.
Warner tries to find time for both her three-month-old son Clayton and her around-the-clock job as a residence hall director at Central Michigan University.
To the new mother, being an RHD is about more than just administration. It’s about personal relationships, building a welcoming community and supporting students.
“I’ve chosen to stay in this job for a long time because I don’t want to give up my relationship with students,” she said. “They need to know that I care.”
In the past, Warner has tried to maintain close relations with the students, making it easier to notice when they’re having a bad day or just need help.
She said her favorite part about being an RHD is watching students grow and change throughout the year.
“It’s about watching people grow,” she said. “It’s about seeing people come in on move-in day and seeing how much they’ve changed when they move back out in May.”
Warner said there is never a normal routine when it comes to her job.
She holds office hours, works with her hall staff and has appointments with students, but there are always situations that arise unannounced.
Despite the new addition to her family, Warner said life as an RHD has not changed too much.
“It’s not a whole lot different than before the baby,” she said. “It’s not an 8-4 kind of job, but my husband and I make it work.”
While baby Clayton laid asleep in his playpen, Warner played back the first few days in the dorms with a child.
Baby gifts were sent in from all over the state from parents of former students and from the hall’s residents.
“It was like a ‘Thank you for taking care of my baby, now here’s a gift for your baby’ sort of thing,” the new mother said. “It meant a lot to me.”
Luanne Goffnett has had more time to integrate her family life with her on-campus duty.
Goffnett, who has worked as an RHD for CMU since 1991, is in charge of both Robinson and Barnes halls.
Living with her husband, four children and two step-children, Goffnett has accepted the hardships that come with balancing work and family.
Her children have spent their entire lives living in the Barnes RHD apartment. The only complaint they seem to have is a lack of bathroom space, which is likely to happen in any family with four girls.
And like other students, they too dislike the periodic fire drills.
Scout, 13, said her mom’s job makes it easy for her and her siblings to spend time with Goffnett.
“We spend more time with her because her job is right here,” Scout said.
Chloe, 14, and one of Goffnett’s stepchildren, said living on campus is normal for the family.
However, when she brought a friend from school over to visit, the girl was overwhelmed by the hall’s residents.
“I came here with another girl (from school) and she was a lot more overwhelmed by the college kids, but it’s just normal for me,” Chloe said.
The kids said they are closer with the staff of the hall than they are with any of the residents, although they sometimes join residents in playing sports in the courtyard.
Goffnett said raising her kids on a college campus comes with numerous benefits, including learning how to share.
“They need to know how to share and compromise,” Goffnett said. “The art of compromise is important, they’re just getting it earlier in life.”
Living on a diverse campus has also exposed her kids to a variety of individuals.
“It provided them with a great perspective of the world,” Goffnett said. “Barnes used to be an international hall, so they’ve been able to meet people who speak different languages and practice different religions.”
Goffnett said although both her work and family duties are located in the same building, it is necessary for her to keep a balance between the two.
“I think it requires patience on the part of my family because I can’t walk down the hall without being addressed by something,” Goffnett said. “I try to set boundaries even though it’s a 24/7 job.”
Goffnett said those boundaries include keeping family and cell phone numbers private to staff only. The family also has a “closed-door apartment” to student residents, unless they specifically choose to become part of the family’s life.