Year in Review

21-22 Year in Review

Over the last school year, University Residences and Dining & Culinary have continued to support students in our care, whether it be small steps or their giant leaps towards their future. We thrive on creating opportunities for personal growth through relationships where everyone has a seat at the table. Below are just a few of the many things that make us proud to support Purdue students every step of their journey.

Honoring Alumni

Parker Halls Dedicated as Monument to Courageous Sisters

Photo for Parker Halls Dedicated as Monument to Courageous Sisters

The renaming of the Griffin Residence Halls in honor of Frieda Parker (Jefferson) and Winifred Parker (White), sisters who led the campaign that compelled Purdue to integrate its student housing, was officially dedicated Sunday, October 3. The buildings, originally named after the mythical creature featured on the Purdue seal, are the first buildings on Purdue’s campus to be named after Black alumnae.  

In June 2021, the Purdue Board of Trustees formally celebrated the legacy of the Parker sisters by voting unanimously to rename the residence halls in their honor. Provost Jay Akridge, along with Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion John Gates, brought forth the recommendation from Renee Thomas, former director of the Black Cultural Center. The buildings will serve as a monument to the courage, persistence and tenacity displayed by the Parker sisters during their time at Purdue and beyond. 

Upon enrollment at Purdue in 1946, the Parker sisters were initially denied the opportunity to live in University housing. At the time, all housing at Purdue and in the city of West Lafayette was segregated, forcing the sisters to live in a boarding house in Lafayette. The sisters lived in a single room used as a passageway by others who lived in the house, with no shower or bath and just a single desk to share. Their commute to and from campus each day required two buses – hardly ideal conditions under which to pursue a degree. Due to these challenges, Winifred and Frieda missed out on many of the social and educational opportunities that resident students were able to enjoy. 

Frederick Parker, a prominent math teacher at segregated Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis and father of the Parker sisters, mobilized support from connections in the Black community and started a letter-writing campaign to push the Purdue administration to reconsider its housing policies.  

Among the recipients of Fred Parker’s letters was Indiana Gov. Ralph Gates.  

“He made it well known that Purdue was a land-grant school supported by state taxes, and his taxes supported the school just like everyone else’s, so why couldn’t his children live on campus?” Frieda said of her father to University historian John Norberg. “The fact that Blacks were not allowed in the dorms was a policy that had been set up in the housing office at Purdue. It was not law.”  

The governor took up the family’s cause, leading to Purdue admitting the Parker sisters into Bunker Hill in January 1947. They were among the first Black residents of Purdue. The location of the Parker halls is noteworthy in that they are just down the block from the former site of Bunker Hill. 

The transition to living in University housing wasn’t always easy, and the sisters leaned heavily on the local Black community for support – particularly the friends they met through the Greek system as sisters in Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Over time, the sisters made friends in the residence hall and broke down some of the existing barriers. Their fellow residents eventually elected Winifred as secretary of the governing board for the Women’s Residence Halls. 

After graduating from Purdue in 1950, each Parker sister went on to enjoy successful careers. A microbiologist by Purdue training, Winifred returned to college in the 1970s and completed a degree in guidance and counseling at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She spent the remainder of her professional life as a career counselor and advocate for the physically challenged and other underrepresented groups. Frieda worked for more than 50 years in education, including in Milwaukee Public Schools, where she was one of the founding organizers of the teacher’s union and president of the PTA. Winifred died in 2003, seven years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Frieda passed away in 2020.  

Purdue University has produced the following video documentary to highlight the story of the Parker sisters. 

Adrienne White-Faines, the daughter of Winifred and niece to Frieda, was one of many family members present for the dedication of the Parker halls. She said that each of the sisters' families continued to instill the importance of education in their children. Frieda and her husband, Ralph, sent both of their sons to Purdue, while Winifred and her husband Walter’s four children – Winifred, Walter, Charles and Adrienne – also graduated college. All six of the sisters’ children went on to complete graduate programs.   

“It’s understood that likely the strongest, most efficient and effective pathway to a more just and peaceful world is through education,” White-Faines said. “Therefore, because education comes in many forms, both in and out of the classroom, my mother and aunt were under no delusion that this would be easy – but they were prepared as Black women for the challenge. They believed and had a fundamental constitution to remain full of possibility, with a sense of hope for the future and an incredible sense of humor, which they kept lifelong, and a belief in their hearts that everyone can make a difference.” 

Adrienne White-Faines, daughter of Winifred Parker White, speaks at the dedication of the Parker halls.

Adrienne White-Faines, daughter of Winifred Parker White, speaks at the dedication of the Parker halls.

In addition to remarks by White-Faines, the dedication also included comments from Ralph Jefferson, Frieda’s son; Provost Akridge, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Gates and Purdue President Mitch Daniels, as well as performances by the Purdue Black Cultural Center’s Black Voices of Inspiration Choir.  

“Purdue University and its land grant sisters around the country were put here more than a century ago to start lowering and removing barriers, and promote the upward mobility of free peoples and that has been our history ever since,” Daniels said. “We’ve been too slow about it in many ways and many times, but the progress has always been forward. Sometimes, it takes courageous and resolved people, like the Parker sisters, to push things further – and thank God they did.” 

In addition to bearing the names of the sisters, Frieda Parker Hall will display the achievements of pioneering women who made significant contributions to Purdue and society. The 2021 class of Purdue Pioneering Women award honorees were recognized during the dedication of the halls.  

Members of the Parker family hope the visibility of the sisters’ story will continue to inspire future generations of Boilermakers.   

“We believe the energies, hope and values of my aunt Frieda and mother Winifred will continue to live on and not just in our family, but in every student who passes through those doors,” White-Faines said. “I hope that they will hear the words of my mother as they walk through the doors to go to class. Hold your head up. Be courageous. You are worthy and have a right to be here. Open your heart to others. Do your part to make the world a better place.”  

Our Students

Balance Key to Ohlwine’s Fulfilling Campus Experience

Katelyn Ohlwine

With graduate classes, an on-campus job and extracurricular activities, Katelyn Ohlwine has a lot on her plate.

Ohlwine, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Accounting with Krannert School of Management, serves as a student hiring manager with central hiring for Purdue Dining & Culinary and is a member of the Purdue Dance Team. In addition to careful planning and scheduling, Ohlwine says the key to balancing her involvement is keeping open lines of communication between supervisors, coaches and leaders of the activities she pursues.

“They all know everything I’m involved in,” Ohlwine says. “That’s helped because they really respect my time and understand everything I’m involved with. They’ve been super flexible and helped me be able to enjoy doing absolutely everything I love to do and made those things feasible for me.”

Ohlwine performs essential behind-the-scenes work in her role with Dining & Culinary. Her primary duties include interviewing students, setting up appointments for hired employees to complete paperwork, creating schedules and responding to emails from students who may have questions or are experiencing difficulties in the hiring process.

Throughout the process, Ohlwine is able to draw heavily on previous experience as she advises students. Ohlwine has been a part of Dining & Culinary since her first year on campus, when she worked at Ford Dining Court while living in Owen Hall. After moving to Meredith Hall, she transferred to working at 1bowl @ Meredith, a grab-and-go location that serves trendy hot and cold entrée bowls.

“I love answering students’ questions and giving them advice on how to balance school and work,” Ohlwine says. “I enjoy talking about meal plans and all of the different options they have, everything that I have found works for me and hopefully making recommendations that can work for them.”

Working for Dining & Culinary and taking advantage of a meal plan are two big reasons why Ohlwine has chosen to live on campus and will continue to do so until she completes her graduate studies. A self-professed “foodie,” Ohlwine says she enjoys making note of her favorite meals in Dining & Culinary’s Mobile Menus app so she can receive alerts when those dishes are being served and make appropriate dining plans. She also notes that the meal benefit provided to student employees during their shifts has helped ease the cost of living on campus by allowing her to purchase a smaller meal plan. She enjoys passing all of this and more on to students during the hiring process.

“I think my experiences at Ford and 1bowl have helped me as a central hiring manager because when I’m in these interviews, I can talk about what I’ve done,” Ohlwine says. “I haven’t worked in every single dining court or dining hall but it does give me some experience to relate to them and give advice.”

Ohlwine has been part of central hiring since Dining & Culinary centralized hiring processes during summer 2020. During that time, she’s provided valuable student perspective as central hiring worked to design, implement and adjust processes from scratch. For example, Ohlwine researched and recommended that Dining & Culinary purchase a robust version of SignUpGenius, an online software tool for scheduling and event planning. The software is used to schedule interviews, onboarding events and more.

“It was really cool being part of a team where everything was brand new and fresh,” Ohlwine says. “We had no precedents so we were creating everything as we went. We would find something that didn’t work and change it, then find things that were working and see how they could evolve.”

The new environment provided opportunities for Ohlwine to develop significant teamwork and communication skills.

“We would have staff meetings where we’d go over everything and then it would change,” Ohlwine says. “Even week-to-week we would have new things we were doing. It was all about being a team player and communicating. There was a huge learning curve for me and everyone who joined central hiring.”

During this time, Ohlwine says she has received important mentorship from her supervisor, Mary Jo Zeiser, senior manager of student success programs for Dining & Culinary.

“We call her our ‘intern mom’ because she really is like a mom to us,” Ohlwine says. “She goes above and beyond in making every one of us feel welcome and making sure everything’s communicated. Inside and outside of work she really supports us and makes sure that she cares about us as people, not just as workers – and I truly value that.”

At Zeiser’s recommendation, Ohlwine joined University Residences’ Women’s Leadership Series planning committee over the summer. The series brings guest speakers to campus for several events and provides opportunities for women students to connect with each other as well as faculty, staff and alumni. As part of the planning committee, Ohlwine helped provide feedback and shape plans for the series, which she says she found particularly valuable.

“I loved going to the events and hearing these women in leadership talk about their experiences, encourage us to be greater leaders and tell us how we can do that,” Ohlwine says. “It was also really awesome to connect to all of these people who are involved in so many different aspects of Purdue. I met people I had never met before from different majors and backgrounds. We’ve all added each other on social media so we still see and keep up with everything we’ve all been doing. It’s a really supportive environment and I think that’s so important for us to support each other.”

In addition to her job, classes and participation in Women’s Leadership Series, Ohlwine serves as vice president and treasurer for the Purdue Dance Team, which performs at home athletic games, philanthropies and community events, and competes in the National Dance Alliance College Nationals Competition. The team practices three nights a week for two hours in addition to performances. As VP and treasurer, Ohlwine is responsible for overseeing team finances and also serves as the dance captain, leading the team through stretches and warmups, making sure dancers are focused for performances, and even some choreography work. She says she has translated skills in communication and teamwork to her role as a leader on the dance team.

“I really try to be that person everyone is comfortable going to,” Ohlwine says. “It is really hard when you’re a leader over your peers. There’s a hard balance between being friends and also being their captain and I think finding that balance has been really rewarding. I love that people feel comfortable coming to me and that I get to have all of these conversations with people that I wouldn’t if I wasn’t a captain.”

The 2020-21 dance season was a particularly challenging one for the Dance Team, which had to prepare a virtual performance for the National Dance Alliance College Nationals Competition. Translating the energy of a live performance into a virtual format proved to be difficult, but the team’s work was rewarded with a national championship in Pom and runner-up finish in Jazz.

Ohlwine says she is especially thankful for people like Zeiser and Mallori Walker, head coach of the Purdue Dance Team, for allowing her the flexibility to participate in the rewarding experiences that have helped define her time as a Boilermaker. She is also thankful for the continuing support of her family, who have provided encouragement and support through every step of her journey.

Ohlwine will complete an internship in auditing with Crowe LLP in Indianapolis this summer, after which she will return to Purdue to complete her studies. She hopes to complete another internship in spring 2023 before turning her focus to passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination. She hopes to pursue a career in auditing but is also considering tax as a backup.

Student Feature

Graduate Student Reflects on Residential Life Experiences

When Natalie Murdock began her first on-duty shift as a resident assistant, she was understandably nervous.

Natalie Murdock

The weight of responsibility that comes with supervising a floor of students as well as some doubts about how her personality would fit with the rest of the RA staff were the source of her anxiety. Fortunately, it was then that Georgia Lawlor, a fellow RA in Windsor Halls, offered Murdock some encouragement that would change her mentality and set her up for success.  

“She told me that when people are hired on different staffs, there’s a reason why they are taking you,” Murdock says. “There are traits that you bring that may be different than other people on staff that they want. If everybody wanted the same type of RA, we wouldn’t be able to support all types of students. When she told me that, it really encouraged me and I have carried that with me my entire time in Residential Life.” 

Since then, Murdock has spent four years in Residential Life, first as an RA in Windsor Halls for two years and now as residence education assistant (REA) in Hawkins Hall. Murdock’s interest in becoming a RA was the result of her mentality to seek the next opportunity for growth, which has characterized her time at Purdue. After living in Wiley Hall for two years, she says she saw becoming an RA as a logical next step to growing as a leader and making an impact on campus. 

“My family is very hard-working so it was kind of in my flow and I’m used to consistently being involved,” Murdock says. “I knew I wanted to be an RA. Obviously, there are dynamic financial benefits but I also wanted to grow in leadership and learn more in that avenue.” 

Windsor Halls have a long tradition of being the home of accomplished and driven women students as well as being a convenient and beautiful place to call home, which Murdock says catalyzed her strong interest in serving as an RA there. She was able to make connections with Windsor staff during the interview process and her interest was rewarded with the RA position. She says the strong culture of sisterhood, work ethic and creativity in Windsor was everything she hoped for. 

“People speak highly of Windsor and I think that’s right on target,” Murdock says. “They have high standards and I think being surrounded by other women who cared about their residents and leadership helped me learn a lot.” 

Some of those lessons learned include time management, how to use creativity as a communication tool and as a leader, developing an empathic approach to relationships and how to be a strong member of a community and staff. These lessons connect with her studies in public health.  

“In public health, we create programs and interventions that successfully serve the community and their health,” Murdock says. “In Residential Life, if we’re not doing things that are benefitting the health of our residents, what are we doing? Helping mental, emotional and physical health through de-stress events or giving our residents a breather from classes translates as public health work in my mind.”  

In addition to her RA duties, Murdock was heavily involved in extracurricular activities as an undergraduate. Her father’s connections with the Black Cultural Center helped set the stage for important relationships with friends and mentors that have been a significant part of her Purdue experience. She was a member of the Black Voices of Inspiration choir, serving as student coordinator, and developed friendships around her faith that led to membership in a local church choir. Murdock served as a research honors scholar in the College of Health and Human Sciences, where she worked under Dr. Andrea DeMaria, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health. Murdock’s passion for service and creating change also led her to a position as the vice president for service for the Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board and involvement with the Students at Purdue Against Racism Coalition (SPARC). 

Developing time management skills and tools for self-care were challenges, but an important part of Murdock’s ability to stay involved while completing her course work.  

“When you’re doing what you really enjoy, it gets harder to turn it off and take a break,” Murdock says. “The weight of responsibility can sometimes be hard to turn off because you want to do it right and do it well. That is definitely how I feel about the work that I’ve done here.”

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in 2020, Murdock set her sights on completing a master’s with a concentration in family and community health. As with her previous interest in becoming a RA, seeking the next opportunity in Residential Life became part of her graduate experience, which led her to the REA position in Hawkins Hall. 

“What’s next?” Murdock says. “That was my attitude towards my education. I thought that if I stayed at Purdue, I’m already in Residential Life and have connections. What is the next level of leadership to pursue that can help me grow as a leader? I had people encouraging me and it just ended up working out.” 

As REA, Murdock serves as a supervisor for RAs and student staff. With COVID-19 impacting relationships and opportunities for community engagement, email communication and consistent one-on-one meetings have been an important part of developing relationships with her staff. With her previous experience as an RA, Murdock can anticipate some of the struggles her staff might have and offer constructive encouragement and timely reminders. She says her staff has shared how those messages have resonated and have even gone on to share those messages with family members and friends. 

“That’s such a gift,” Murdock says. “I think those moments really stand out for me as being able to grow and that’s what I love about the position.” 

Another important aspect of her relationship with her staff grew out of a challenge she gave to each member to give a presentation on social justice. Murdock shared her own presentation as well, which she says gave her an opportunity to be vulnerable and share personal experiences in a way that educated her staff and strengthened her relationships with them. 

“Being able to do that for them and offering the education that I and my supervisor had was a privilege,” Murdock says. “I was able to show them my heart about things I really care about and help them grow or affirm what they already knew.”  

When students approach Murdock for advice on becoming an RA or becoming involved in any type of leadership, she tries to pass on the advice she got on her first shift as an RA – and encourages anyone to be their authentic self.  

“When you get hired, they’re going to expect you to be that person you are in your interview,” Murdock says. “Just be you and trust and believe that, when you get hired, they’re hiring you for who you are and they see something in you. You may not see it sometimes, but what they see is needed to build up the community that you were placed in.”  

Murdock will graduate with a Master’s of Public Health in May 2022, after which he hopes to join a seminary with the goal of leading others towards faith-based growth. The lessons she’s gained in leadership as part of her campus experiences are sure to serve her in her next endeavors.  

“At the core of it all, Residential Life is an opportunity to serve a community and hopefully translate that passion that you carry to that community and support them so they can grow,” Murdock says. “I think that, at the core of any type of leadership, you’ve got to know how to do that. You’ve got to know how to support the people that you’re called to lead and serve.”  

Wilson Recognized with ABCD Award

Wilson Recognized with ABCD Award

Tyler Wilson (left) and Eric Coates, residential dining supervisor at Earhart Dining Court.

Tyler Wilson has been named the recipient of an Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award, which recognizes students whose actions make a difference at the university and contribute to excellence within Student Life. He will receive a $300 award in conjunction with the recognition, which is bestowed four times throughout the year.  

Wilson is currently a supervisor-in-training at Earhart Dining Court, having previously succeeded in positions as a student associate and cook. He began working at Earhart in October 2020. 

“It’s been a really rewarding experience to be able to start as an associate and work my way up to become a supervisor-in-training,” Wilson says. “They offer great opportunities like that to grow and not just stay stagnant. Aside from that, the environment is really cool.”  

In addition to working at Earhart, Wilson is currently completing a student teaching internship as part of his studies in early childhood education and exceptional needs. Eric Coates, residential dining supervisor at Earhart, says Wilson’s passion for teaching is evident in the way he serves as a leader on the dining court staff. 

“Tyler has made it our mission to help our student cooks get their checklists completed,” Coates says. “On a closing shift, it is commonplace to see Tyler working with three or four student cooks on their checklists. He has worked tirelessly on his shifts to ensure that we will have an excellent crop of student supervisors for the future. This was quickly noticed by his fellow students and he has become a go-to when they have questions or need help.” 

As part of his student teaching, Wilson works closely with children between the ages of two and four years old. While working with his peers and professional staff is quite different from leading a classroom, he says he’s honed transferable skills in professional communication.  

“You still do have those moments where you need to take charge,” Wilson says. “Being a supervisor-in-training and having to assign my students into different stations has been helpful. That goes with the classroom experience in a sense – having to collaborate with other teachers and aides. In the younger classrooms, we don’t have one teacher – we have multiple teachers we have to collaborate with. It’s not the same as collaborating in a kitchen, but it’s still people skills.”  

Wilson says he’s found particular value in the connections he’s made while working at Earhart, including peers who are going through a similar grind in coursework and professional staff who have helped him make a connection with a teaching professional.  

“Making connections and meeting all of these great people that I’ve been able to build relationships with has been pretty rewarding,” he says. “I’d say that working in the dining court has been a good experience for me overall and I’d recommend it to others that are looking at getting a job on campus. We’re always hiring.” 

Wilson is a first-generation college student and will graduate in May 2022, after which he hopes to work in a head-start program for at-risk youth near his hometown, Gary, Indiana.  

 

UR Occupancy 2021-2022

UR Fall Semester Average Occupancy
Ur Spring Semester Occupancy

Contract Renewal 2021-22

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Our Staff

Brunson Helps Purdue Village Staff Meet Challenges

Brunson Helps Purdue Village Staff Meet Challenges

Jared Brunson (right) with Brittany Madden, student office coordinator and staff supervisor for Purdue Village.

Jared Brunson, a student office coordinator at Purdue Village, has been recognized with an Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award, which honors students whose actions make a difference at the university and contribute to excellence within Student Life. The awards are bestowed four times throughout the academic year. Each winner receives a $300 award.

Brunson began working at Purdue Village in May 2021. He had initially applied for a position with University Residences Conferences Services but was recommended for and accepted the position in Purdue Village. 

The environment at Purdue Village is typically different than that found in other University Residences locations since it predominantly houses graduate students, including families, and is the only University Residences community located south of State Street on the west side of campus. This year, Purdue Village also serves as quarantine and isolation housing for students who have tested positive for COVID-19. This has created unique challenges for the staff as they have had to coordinate with different departments on campus to ensure that students in quarantine and isolation have their needs met.  

“We always say ‘P-ville is P-ville’ because it’s slightly different than everything else in University Residences, but that’s created a bond among everyone who works here,” Brunson says. “We call ourselves family and that’s something that I really enjoy because we’ll always stick up for one another and help each other out. It has a real friendly and family-like atmosphere.” 

Brunson is pursuing a double-major in chemical engineering and pre-med with the goal of becoming a pediatrician, though he is also considering management. He says he has found his work at Purdue Village, particularly in relation to quarantine and isolation housing, to be valuable in building skills for his future career.   

“Quarantine changes day by day sometimes, so I’ve really had to learn patience, how to do a lot of different things and coordinate,” Brunson says. “I’ve learned a lot about working with different organizations, which I find extremely beneficial and helpful.” 

As student office coordinator, Brunson serves as a leader for the rest of the student staff by planning, organizing and running monthly student office staff meetings. One of the ways he has worked to make things easier for the student staff is by creating videos that demonstrate how to perform different tasks. When a procedure is changed or a new office policy is added, Brunson will often make a video of the procedure or the steps needed to complete the new task. He then posts these videos in a shared file that is accessible to all members of the student staff.  

Brittany Madden, student office coordinator and staff supervisor for Purdue Village, says Brunson’s videos have made a positive impact.   

“If the students forget how to do something or they have not done it before, the videos he creates provide clear and detailed instructions,” Madden says. “It also helps for them to have a visual idea of the procedures, documents and where office items are located. This not something we asked Jared to do for the staff – he did this on his own.” 

Brunson says thinking about how he learns best and his desire to make things easier on the student staff were part of the reason he created the videos. 

“I’m a visual person, so I like to physically be somewhere, take things apart and put them together,” Brunson says. “If I can’t do that, I’ve always noticed that if I can watch something being done, I usually learn it better. I just thought I’d give all the resources I can to my staff and they can use it however they want.” 

Whatever challenges may arise in the unique environment of Purdue Village, it’s clear Brunson will have a hand in helping lead the student staff in meeting them.  

Huffman Honored with Special Boilermaker Award

Susan Huffman (right) assists members of Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma in the delivery of care packages for Purdue COVID-19 vaccine clinic staff.

Susan Huffman (right) assists members of Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma in the delivery of care packages for Purdue COVID-19 vaccine clinic staff.

Susan Huffman, assistant director of on-campus housing, has been recognized with one of three 2021 Special Boilermaker Awards presented by the Purdue for Life Foundation.  

Established by the Purdue Alumni Association in 1981, Special Boilermaker Awards recognize and honor faculty and staff who have contributed significantly to the improvement of quality of life and the betterment of the educational experience for a substantial number of students and whose life works have improved the public image of the university. Honorees are nominated by Purdue students, faculty, staff or alumni and are chosen by the Special Boilermaker Award committee. 

Huffman was publicly recognized and presented with a pewter locomotive keepsake during an on-field presentation at Purdue’s recent football game against Wisconsin in Ross-Ade Stadium. Her name will be permanently etched into the achievement obelisk on the Engineering Mall as well as a plaque displayed in Dauch Alumni Center. 

Huffman has dedicated nearly 40 years of service to Purdue University, the last 22 within University Residences. In her current role, Huffman provides critical services to students who are having academic or financial challenges, advising them on processes and helping connect them to resources that can provide solutions.  

Mike Shettle, director of administration for University Residences, says Huffman’s personal investment in every interaction defines her service to the university.  

“Susan goes above and beyond by engaging the student in conversation to learn more about their background, goals, hopes and dreams,” Shettle says. “In each case, she takes a personal interest in their particular situation and offers extensive advice and resources to help them devise a plan to deal with their situation. Fair and firm in her interactions, she seeks win-win solutions in each. This often overlooked, but critical function clearly qualifies her as a ‘silent leader’ while preventing an untold number of students from slipping through the cracks.” 

Barb Frazee, assistant vice provost for Student Life, adds that Huffman’s work provides crucial student support behind the scenes.  

“Susan has been an unsung hero to many students during her career in University Residences,” Frazee said. “She has helped students and their families work out payment plans and continue as Purdue students because of her diligence and compassion as she helped them navigate financial aid.” 

Huffman was part of the leadership team that founded University Residences’ Women’s Leadership Series in 2011 and continues to be part of the planning process for the event. The series helps women students connect with professional mentors and peers who are seeking ways to grow professionally and build their confidence. Since its inception, the series has provided learning and networking opportunities for more than 1,000 participants.  

“I always enjoy connecting with students,” Huffman says. “I enjoy connecting with people in general and getting to know each one as an individual. I’ve developed a lot of really nice relationships with students over the years and that keeps fueling the future relationships too.” 

Before working with University Residences, Huffman served as the coordinator of off-campus housing and assistant dean of students in the Office of the Dean of Students. It was in this role that she became an advisor for Alpha Lambda Delta, an honor society for first-year students. She continues to advise Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma, a merger of the Purdue chapters of two national honor societies. The two societies merged about 20 years ago. Huffman was named Alpha Lambda Delta’s National Advisor of the Year in 2018-19. Her service to the National Council of Alpha Lambda Delta included stints as president (2009-18), president-elect (2008-09) and vice president for chapter relations and expansion (2002-08).  

Last year, the Purdue chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma welcomed its largest ever incoming class of 954 members. The honor society hosts in-person guest speakers, connects members with academic and well-being resources, performs service projects and supports events and initiatives in the campus and Greater Lafayette communities.  

“I was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta as a freshman,” Huffman says. “I didn’t do much in the organization because, at the time, they weren’t very active, but that made me feel so good as a freshman. It jumpstarted my feeling of belonging at Purdue and thinking that I could do well in such a big place. I’ve always tried to give that feeling back to other students who may need that kickstart or that vote of confidence.” 

Huffman is highly sought after to accompany admissions recruiting trips, which have led to friendships around the country and helped numerous students and families choose Purdue. She also previously served as an advisor to the Purdue Student Government Senate and Purdue’s cooperative housing community.  

Along with her husband, Dave, Huffman is a loyal supporter of Purdue athletics, cheering on Boilermaker teams at home games and traveling to numerous away events. Part of Huffman’s job in University Residences used to include conducting tours of Cary Quad for athletic recruits and their parents – often on short notice. As a result, she has developed friendships with several Purdue head coaches, including Jeff Brohm (football) and Matt Painter (men’s basketball).  

“Susan and her family are very dedicated to Purdue,” says Elizabeth Hartley, director of alumni and donor relations for University Residences. “She proudly sports her black and gold outfits frequently. She gives her time, talent and treasure to her alma mater.”  

Huffman holds a doctorate in college student affairs from Purdue. She previously earned a master’s degree in counseling and guidance (1980) and a Bachelor of Science in Counseling and Psychology (1979), both from Purdue.  

Meal Plans

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Meal Swipes

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Unique Opportunities

Glass Brothers First Siblings to Serve as Executives-in-Residence

Rodrick Glass (far left) and Rodney Glass (far right) hold discussions during Coffee & Consulting.

Rodney Glass (far left) and Rodrick Glass (far right) hold discussions during Coffee & Consulting.

Rodney and Rodrick Glass became the first brothers to serve as Executives-in-Residence during their visit to campus, which took place November 4-9. 

Rodney is the chief operating officer and senior vice president at HID Global, a manufacturer of security and identification products, such as smart cards and readers based on radio frequency identification (RFID). As a student, he served as a residence hall counselor and staff resident in Cary Quad, president of the student body, was an active member of Purdue Student Government and Kappa Alpha Psi, and sat on the Board of Trustees to work with the Office of the Dean of Students. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Supervision in 1992. 

Rodrick earned a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Supervision in 1992 and later completed a Master of Science in Industrial Distribution in 1994. He was active in the residence hall community as a student, serving as a residence hall counselor in Harrison Hall and staff resident in Cary Quadrangle. He also served as vice president of Purdue Student Government and president of The Society of Minority Managers. He currently serves as the executive vice president of sales and business development at Creative Realities, Inc., a digital marketing company that specializes in digital signage.  

Rodrick recalls that his father, then a drill sergeant, was responsible for their introduction to student employment and ultimately, the gateway to their leadership development on campus. The Glass brothers enrolled at Purdue in the fall of 1988 with a directive to find jobs on campus. Rodney and Rodrick hadn’t fulfilled that responsibility when their father showed up at their room early one Saturday morning for a surprise visit. 

“We got dressed, went downstairs and went through the cafeteria,” Rodrick recalls. “We were all sitting together and my dad asked us if we’d found jobs yet – and, of course, we hadn’t been looking. All of a sudden, the head of food service for the dining hall walks by and my dad asks her if they could use any people to help. She said they could and my dad turns to us and says, “Look at that! I found you guys' jobs!’” 

The position kicked off the work experiences of Rodney and Rodrick in the residence hall system. They later became head waiters and were asked to apply for residence hall counselor positions. Rodney and Rodrick each lived in residence halls for the duration of their time at Purdue.   

“The reason why living in a hall was so beneficial and worked was that we really met some great folks that we immediately meshed with,” Rodrick says. “These were folks from all different walks of life, from different countries and backgrounds, but the environment just gave you a sense of home away from home.” 

Rodrick says that experiences as a residence hall counselor, staff resident and member of the food service staff provided a strong foundation for his future leadership pursuits.  

“As I look back, my management and leadership style was honed in quite a bit while I was working here,” Rodrick says. “Working here allowed us the ability to learn how to collaborate and develop our leadership styles, especially as we became leaders in different capacities.” 

Receiving the vote of confidence from a trusted mentor, such as Eileen Strater, then a food service manager, encouraged Rodrick to pursue the other leadership roles he attained on campus.  

“I think that affirmation was so important," Rodrick says. "Hearing that someone thinks you can lead and manage this group of 10 to 15 people that are part of this shift and do it effectively gave me the confidence to go do some of these other things and be a good leader in other organizations. The initial training and affirmation gave me a positive attitude that I could potentially go do these other things, and that started here.” 

Rodrick notes that the ability to collaborate, measure his own strengths, understand the strengths of others gauge employee temperament and build effective relationships were skills he began to build as a residence hall counselor. 

“Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are and where you can improve, and then being able to identify that in others, is specifically important if you’re going to be a leader,” Rodrick says.   

While on campus, Rodney and Rodrick met with various student groups, including members of learning communities, resident assistants, members of the Business Opportunity Program (of which the Glass members are proud alumni), Purdue Student Government and UR Global. Rodrick additionally participated in a Men’s and Women’s Leadership Series event, and the brothers also met with students one-on-one in Coffee & Consulting sessions to share advice with students.   

“I was so impressed with how thoughtful, prepared and inquisitive all of the students I was able to interact with were,” Rodrick says. “They came with copious notes about things I’ve done and were ready to ask me specific questions. I should say I’m impressed, even though I do expect that from a Purdue student, and it does give me a lot of pride to see that.” 

Rodrick Glass shares a laugh during Coffee & Consulting.

Rodrick Glass shares a laugh during Coffee & Consulting.

Rodrick related that he met many of his key mentors and learned how to apply himself in experiences outside of the classroom, and encouraged current students to seek out similar opportunities.  

“When I reflected back, those folks that had the biggest impression on me were all in Student Life and the residence halls system,” Rodrick says. “People like Eileen Strater and her approach to doing things right the first time and her disciplined approach still resonate with me. Betty Nelson [dean of students emerita] and Jane Hamblin [former associate dean of students] had a passion for people and making sure they understand people’s feelings and taking them into consideration when making decisions. I picked up all of that from those folks. They really have influenced me and really shaped who I am today.”   

Rodney and Rodrick were the final Executives-in-Residence of the fall semester. The EiR program brings successful alumni to campus, where they live among and engage students for up to a week. Bookmark and visit this page to learn more about upcoming EiR visits.  

Dining & Culinary Celebrates Return of Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Groups of students gather for Thanksgiving dinner at Ford Dining Court.

Groups of students gather for Thanksgiving dinner at Ford Dining Court.

On-campus students welcomed back the highly popular Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Purdue Dining & Culinary on Thursday, November 19.

The dinner is an opportunity for residents to enjoy a celebration of the holiday featuring traditional Thanksgiving foods. Dining courts welcomed throngs of students with decorations and a robust menu of dishes including roast turkeys, glazed and smoked ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, traditional stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. The dessert spread included various pies, pumpkin desserts and cinnamon roll casserole.

Thanksgiving spread at Wiley Dining Court.

Thanksgiving spread at Wiley Dining Court.

The creativity of Dining & Culinary was also showcased with several specialty, Thanksgiving-themed dishes elsewhere. 1bowl @ Meredith, a residential dining location featuring trendy food bowl options, served a Thanksgiving bowl filled with turkey, potatoes, stuffing and vegetables smothered in gravy. Pete’s Za, also located in Meredith, served a holiday-themed pizza made from similar ingredients. Vegetarians and vegans could also enjoy the taste of the season with tofurkey and vegan gravy.

Pieces of pie served at Wiley Dining Court.

Pieces of pie served at Wiley Dining Court.

The meal was highly anticipated by students after being unable to gather for community meals last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that two classes of students were experiencing the tradition for the first time. A group of residents from Cary Quad shared that they had heard from older students that the dinner was not to be missed and that it lived up to the hype.

Students pose while filling their plates at Ford Dining Court.

Students pose while filling their plates at Ford Dining Court.

For other students, the meal was an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening with friends before the holiday break.  

Students share laughs over Thanksgiving dinner at Wiley Dining Court.

Students share laughs over Thanksgiving dinner at Wiley Dining Court.

“This is like our floor’s version of a ‘Friendsgiving,’” said one RA. “We obviously can’t all be together on Thanksgiving so it’s just cool to get together with our friends and celebrate. We got most of our floor to come over together.”

Enjoy more photos from the meals served in Wiley and Ford Dining Courts below.

Students stack cups in Wiley Dining Court.

Students stack cups in Wiley Dining Court.

Staff at Ford Dining Court gather during their Thanksgiving dinner shift.

Staff at Ford Dining Court gather during their Thanksgiving dinner shift.

A student fills their plate at Ford Dining Court.

A student fills their plate at Ford Dining Court.

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Academic Partnerships

Dining & Culinary Celebrates Return of Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Groups of students gather for Thanksgiving dinner at Ford Dining Court.

Groups of students gather for Thanksgiving dinner at Ford Dining Court.

On-campus students welcomed back the highly popular Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Purdue Dining & Culinary on Thursday, November 19.

The dinner is an opportunity for residents to enjoy a celebration of the holiday featuring traditional Thanksgiving foods. Dining courts welcomed throngs of students with decorations and a robust menu of dishes including roast turkeys, glazed and smoked ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, traditional stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. The dessert spread included various pies, pumpkin desserts and cinnamon roll casserole.

Thanksgiving spread at Wiley Dining Court.

Thanksgiving spread at Wiley Dining Court.

The creativity of Dining & Culinary was also showcased with several specialty, Thanksgiving-themed dishes elsewhere. 1bowl @ Meredith, a residential dining location featuring trendy food bowl options, served a Thanksgiving bowl filled with turkey, potatoes, stuffing and vegetables smothered in gravy. Pete’s Za, also located in Meredith, served a holiday-themed pizza made from similar ingredients. Vegetarians and vegans could also enjoy the taste of the season with tofurkey and vegan gravy.

Pieces of pie served at Wiley Dining Court.

Pieces of pie served at Wiley Dining Court.

The meal was highly anticipated by students after being unable to gather for community meals last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that two classes of students were experiencing the tradition for the first time. A group of residents from Cary Quad shared that they had heard from older students that the dinner was not to be missed and that it lived up to the hype.

Students pose while filling their plates at Ford Dining Court.

Students pose while filling their plates at Ford Dining Court.

For other students, the meal was an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening with friends before the holiday break.  

Students share laughs over Thanksgiving dinner at Wiley Dining Court.

Students share laughs over Thanksgiving dinner at Wiley Dining Court.

“This is like our floor’s version of a ‘Friendsgiving,’” said one RA. “We obviously can’t all be together on Thanksgiving so it’s just cool to get together with our friends and celebrate. We got most of our floor to come over together.”

Enjoy more photos from the meals served in Wiley and Ford Dining Courts below.

Students stack cups in Wiley Dining Court.

Students stack cups in Wiley Dining Court.

Staff at Ford Dining Court gather during their Thanksgiving dinner shift.

Staff at Ford Dining Court gather during their Thanksgiving dinner shift.

A student fills their plate at Ford Dining Court.

A student fills their plate at Ford Dining Court.

Dining & Culinary summer food service management interns. From Left: Brittany Griffen, Elizabeth Helmick, Kayla Jewell, Isabella Przybylo, Samantha Toy and Hope Nixon.

Dining & Culinary summer food service management interns. From Left: Brittany Griffen, Elizabeth Helmick, Kayla Jewell, Isabella Przybylo, Samantha Toy and Hope Nixon.

Student Feature

Dining & Culinary Hosts Summer Food Service Management Internship 

Six students from universities across the country participated in a 10-week summer food service management internship with Purdue Dining & Culinary, where they received hands-on experience and a comprehensive look at residential dining operations.  

Interns got an inside look at all aspects of Dining & Culinary operations, including procurement of product, inventory, production from recipe to cooking and serving, and a session with administrative leaders on budgeting. Educational opportunities ranged from meetings with Dining & Culinary employees to hands-on learning in the residential dining courts. One of the aspects of the Dining & Culinary internship that sets it apart is the experience it gives participants with a self-operated dining department – many universities now contract with external vendors for residential dining.  

The group of interns included students majoring in dietetics and hospitality management. For some of the interns, this was their first experience with dining operations on this scale. 

“From my previous experiences, I thought serving 100 people was crazy,” says Hope Nixon, a senior studying dietetics at Bluffton University. “We were serving hundreds of people and that was a big adjustment.”  

A significant part of the internship experience entailed hands-on experience in the residential dining courts. Interns worked every position available for approximately one week, beginning with entry-level student positions and progressing to completing staff relief at the dining court supervisor position in Earhart Dining Court.  

Interns saw first-hand how dining operations have to change on the fly, particularly as residential dining began to resume a more normal mode of operation under the Protect Purdue plan. At the beginning of the internship, Dining & Culinary service mostly consisted of serving food in takeout containers. The dining courts resumed self-service July 1. The operations also had to make different allowances for masking guidelines under the Protect Purdue plan. 

Nixon says she and the rest of the interns learned a lot about adaptability. 

“Plan A is probably never going to work,” says Nixon. “Even though we may want to do plan A, in the back of our mind we need start thinking about plan B through Z, whether that’s for tomorrow, one week from now or two weeks from now. You have to ask, what can I do next?” 

Adaptability is important in day-to-day operations even without having to contend for new operational guidelines during a pandemic. Having a backup plan for an unexpected rush or accounting for the possibility of running out of a popular dish are some examples. 

“Being able to be flexible, not only with COVID guidelines but with supply and demand is so important,” says Brittany Griffen, a senior attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. “We might run out of a certain meat and have to switch to something else. The switches you have to make are regular and constant and the people, like the production coordinator or supervisor, have to make the decision on what to do and then have a backup for that backup because you never know. That’s been interesting to see.”  

Challenges with supply chains can also impact daily operations – something the interns experienced firsthand. Prices of some products increased significantly to the point that they were no longer practical to purchase and serve, while the shipping of other products were impacted by the sourcing of storage and shipping materials.  

“I really liked getting the whole scope of the supply chain,” says Kayla Jewell, a senior majoring in dietetics at Purdue. “We really hit every step. It’s been super eye-opening to be a part of that and take every little skill that we can from each step.” 

The internship also included lunch and learns, field trips and opportunities to connect with dietitians and other food service professionals from the university and in the community. Field trips included stops at a local winery and brewery, as well as a food bank. Molly Winkeler, registered dietitian, and Gretchen Jewell, associate director of auxiliary dining services, coordinated learning opportunities while serving as the internship supervisors. The variety of experiences gave each intern a different perspective to consider when thinking about their respective careers and interests. 

“Even though I probably won’t go into food service, everyone had a different perspective that was very valuable,” says Samantha Toy, a sophomore studying dietetics at Bradley University. “Everyone had great feedback and input that we can take into our future careers.” 

Elizabeth Helmick, a senior studying hospitality management at York College of Pennsylvania, has a similar outlook. 

“I think the biggest thing I’m going to take away from this internship is to learn everything I can and take every opportunity that I can,” Helmick says. “As a hospitality management major, there were a lot of things I did not know about at all. I have gained so much respect for the dietetics field and learned a lot about it. The dietetics world is growing and, as there are increases in allergies and different diets, I’m going to have to know about them and it’s so great to have these relationships with people I can go talk to in the future – whether it’s working a restaurant, hotel or somewhere else. It’s been an eye-opener.” 

Isabella Przybylo, a hospitality management major at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, says exploring different aspects of dietetics in hospitality gave her a broader perspective beyond her field. 

“A lot of times we were doing things that weren’t specifically related to my field, but that, in my opinion, was more beneficial than doing things that hospitality management students would normally be doing,” Przybylo says. “I’m just really grateful for all of the field trips we got to go on. All of those opportunities were awesome but they were also insightful and informative.”  

In addition to gaining supervisor experience, interns completed an allergy training certification and became certified to lead food allergy trainings. They ultimately led sessions where they trained Dining & Culinary employees. Most interns noted that the opportunity was the first chance they’d had to teach others about an area of their expertise. For some, such as Nixon, teaching has an immediate application – she will be a teaching assistant this fall. The benefits of learning to teach also have long-term application.  

“That skill is important to take with you because, even if it’s not a sit-down presentation, you’re still teaching when you have to train someone,” Helmick says. “For a lot of us, this was our first time teaching adult learners so that was a challenge. One of the toughest things about being a young leader in hospitality is we see a lot of people who have been doing this for 30 years, but sometimes you still have to break an old habit or teach some new things. Being able to teach that session was important because we learned to slow down a little bit, give breaks for learning and not run through things quite so fast.”  

 

Food Service Management Summer Interns

The internship concluded the first week of August. Summer interns included: 

  • Kayla Jewell, a senior studying dietetics and nutrition, fitness and health at Purdue University. 
  • Hope Nixon, a senior studying dietetics at Bluffton University. 
  • Samantha Toy, a sophomore studying dietetics at Bradley University.
  • Isabella Przybylo, a senior studying hospitality management at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 
  • Brittany Griffen, a senior studying dietetics at Brigham Young University. 
  • Elizabeth Helmick, a senior studying hospitality management at York College of Pennsylvania. 

Dining & Culinary’s mission is to nourish and inspire the Purdue community. The organization embraces a focus on co-curricular education and leadership development as an integral part of the Purdue experience. Dining & Culinary offers more than 250 internships and intentional learning opportunities as part of its commitment to students.  

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