On Feb. 3, Housing and Dining Programs Executive Director Julie Weber will walk out of her office like she does at the end of every day. However, it will be her last time doing so, as she leaves behind 10 years at AU to begin a similar job 2,000 miles away at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.
Current Associate Director of Housing and Dining Chris Moody will serve as interim director until a replacement is found.
A search for a new executive director will begin upon Weber’s departure and will be led by Sally Swanson, director of administration and budget in the Office of Campus Life, according to Moody.
Weber said her decision to leave AU was based on wanting a different lifestyle for her two sons, Michael, 8, and Steven, 6.
“My departure has little to do with AU but [rather] quality of life for my family,” she said.
While working at AU, Weber commutes 15 hours a week between work and her home outside Baltimore, a trade-off she made to preserve the small-town living experience she missed from growing up in New Hampshire. Opposed to cramped city living, Weber said she wants her kids to live close to school and have plenty of space.
“[You] would pay triple for that down here [in D.C.],” Weber said.
Weber’s departure will be one of many high-level vacancies in the university. Currently there are searches going on for the athletic director, the dean of academic affairs and a university librarian, in addition to the pending presidential search, according to Student Government President Ashley Mushnick.
“Having vacancies is not necessarily a bad thing. Bringing new people on can produce great results,” Mushnick said.
As interim director, Moody said he plans to continue Weber’s work while making sure students will not notice the change in leadership.
“Our focus as a department is to continue the great things we have in place, continue to serve the campus and students,” he said.
While most people interviewed said they would miss Weber, there was also optimism about how Housing and Dining will evolve as a department.
“[Housing and Dining] is really excited to go to another level as a group,” Moody said.
Speaking generally, Mushnick also said the change should be seen as a good thing.
“Change can be good sometimes. AU is used to dealing with the same problems again and again,” she said. “Sometimes it takes new leadership to come up with a new solution.”
Many who know Weber called her a friend and “great person.”
“She’s someone who will be missed,” Joe Vidulich, an Anderson resident assistant and junior in the School of Public Affairs, said.
Jeff Hanley, president of the Residence Hall Association and a sophomore in SPA, said although he and Weber disagreed on every possible idea, he still regards her as a good friend.
Those who worked with Weber in Housing and Dining said she was also a great leader.
“Julie is very easy to work for as she provides one with plenty of autonomy to accomplish one’s work,” Paul Lynch, assistant director of Housing and Dining, operations, housing assignments and billing, said.
Weber was also an ally for the Student Government, according to Mushnick.
“She’s always willing to help with fundraisers,” Mushnick said. “The next person will have some big shoes to fill.”
While most praised Weber, some students spoke negatively of her time at AU.
“Julie Weber works for the administration and she knows it,” Peter Wahlberg, a sophomore in CAS., said. “The problem with that is that student concerns don’t always get listened to.”
Wahlberg said he would not miss her.
“I’m not very sad to see her go,” he said.
Nevertheless, Anderson/Centennial Desk Coordinator Courtney Tucker said she will miss Weber’s smiling face entering the Anderson front doors early in the morning.
Tucker said Weber was “the nicest lady I’ve met in Housing and Dining.”
Weber said she thinks her last day will be a “a little anti-climatic.” She said the sign of making a good exit is having nothing to do on the last day.
A farewell reception will be held the day before she leaves, and she said by that time her entire office will be packed up and she will be preparing for the long drive to New Mexico.
“I’ll just turn in my keys and go home,” she said.
What does Housing and Dining do on campus?
While almost all students have heard of Housing and Dining Programs, many do not realize all the department handles. Below are all stated areas Housing and Dining oversees and what each area includes.
Residence Hall Experience
-Works on programming within the residence halls
-Works with the Counseling/Crisis Center
-Represents residential students on a variety of campus committees
-Provides ID cards for all faculty, staff and students
-Works to achieve high levels of student satisfaction and works on the student experience
-Works closely with Bon Appetit
-Working to house national conferences over the summer
-Oversees all lounges and residence halls
-Works directly with Facilities Management and Aramark
SOURCE: Housing and Dining Programs