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Memorial's residences score high points

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University housing on the St. John's campus is being examined.

The 2003-2004 academic year marked the fourth year of Memorial’s department of Housing, Food and Conference Services participation in the ACUHO-I international benchmarking exercise. The results revealed a significant improvement in several categories. Memorial achieved a ranking in the top 10 per cent on six of the 15 analysis factors comparing the 233 institutions in the sample group. The university scored its highest on the following factors: Overall Resident Satisfaction; Understand Self and Develop Leadership Skills; Opportunities to Participate in Hall; Fellow Residents; and Roomate(s). Memorial University residences received their highest score yet on what the survey says is the top predictor of overall residence satisfaction, Interaction with Others in the Hall.

“Despite the fact that Memorial’s residences are 30-40 years old, they still continue to score extremely high on this international survey,” says Dr. Brian Johnston, director, Housing, Food and Conference Services. He says the most important aspects of the survey speak to the department’s ability to interact with students, the students’ ability to participate, excellent opportunities for leadership development, heavy volunteer and community involvement, and the fact that students have a very rich and rewarding experience.

Dr. Johnston explained that the primary focus of the residence operation is not only on the development of the individual within the academic context but outside of it as well. “We see residence not just as a place to eat and sleep, but as a place to grow. It is a place for students to develop their own particular and personal skills and activities, whether it’s participating in sports or getting involved in community activities such as the Iris Kirby House.” Dr. Johnston says one of the factors he is most proud of is that students identified Paton College (Memorial’s traditional residence complex) as being generally accepting of people as they are, allowing them to grow and develop in the ways they want.

The department is continuing to add new services to its repertoire every year. The most recent is RESnet, the new wireless Internet service which was made available to residence students in fall 2004. Dr. Johnston says the resident assistants have also undergone new training which has place increased emphasis on the importance of getting out there and interacting with students.

“All of these activities, and more, relate to our programming efforts and therefore are a source of high satisfaction for our Residence Life staff,” concluded Dr. Johnston. “Our overall acceptance by our residents continues to climb every year and our goal is to improve even more next year.”

The purpose of the benchmarking project is to provide professionals and institutions with comprehensive, credible, comparative, and confidential assessment tools in support of continuous improvement efforts. The confidentially agreement states that specific numbers and ranking scores cannot be publicized.

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