The Position


Reporting to the associate executive director of Housing & Dining Services (HDS), the director of university housing leads the vision to foster a vibrant and inclusive residential experience at Colorado State University (CSU) for its 8,700 residential students. This student-centered position supervises up to two associate directors, between two and five assistant directors, and one program manager. The director provides vision and oversight for an additional team of 40 full-time professional staff, 24 graduate students, and 450-500 undergraduate student staff across the department. The portfolio includes setting the vision for the direction of the department; shepherding diversity, inclusion, and assessment efforts; infusing student learning into the community development experience through the facilitation of a residential curriculum; and crisis response and management. The unit’s annual operating budget is $13 million.

Additional responsibilities of the role:


  • Establish and lead the vision for the university housing team to provide overall direction, coordination, collaboration, and guidance for all university housing programs, services, and operations.
  • Lead strategic planning and departmental goal setting, and determine priorities for the university housing department.
  • Contribute to the HDS and CSU Division of Student Affairs (DSA) vision, mission, values, and goals by strategically aligning university housing priorities to those of the university.
  • Serve in an on-call capacity for large-scale student/community events and facility emergencies in the residence halls and apartments.
  • Lead and manage the response to all student crises in the residence halls and apartments.
  • Serve on the CSU student consultation team, which addresses campus crisis management and response to critical incidents.

Personnel Management

  • Hire, train, evaluate, and manage all personnel accountability for direct reports and ensure human resource compliance with all student, graduate, and full-time staff in university housing.
  • Lead the evaluation process for the department for undergraduate, graduate, and full-time staff.
  • Advance the onboarding, training, and development vision to ensure all staff are appropriately trained to provide excellent communities for residents.

Residential Experience

  • Provide leadership for the university housing staff in developing goals and objectives for creating safe, caring, and inclusive communities.
  • Lead the creation and continued development of a residential curriculum model connecting with CSU student success initiatives to foster an environment in the residence halls and apartments grounded in student development, student transition, and inclusion.
  • Build collaborative partnerships across student affairs and academic affairs to meet the needs of the students living in the residence halls and apartments.
  • Establish synergistic relationships with the academic partners of residential learning communities.
  • Collaborate with all HDS departments to create a residential experience built on strong operational models, including clean, premier facilities and excellent dining options.
  • Provide leadership for the university housing staff in developing goals and objectives for creating socially-just and interculturally competent communities that embrace student development, respect individual differences, and enhance the delivery of services to residents.


  • Assess and advise the HDS executive leadership team to develop the residence hall and apartment rate structure for a 12-month housing system.
  • Formulate, define, and administer CSU, HDS, and university housing policies and procedures based on assessment and current trends.
  • Maintain joint responsibility for residence hall and apartments facility improvement projects, furniture inventories, staff apartment condition reports, and capital purchases in conjunction with the director of HDS facilities and the director of projects and outreach.
  • Lead the implementation of technologies in partnership with technology services to establish needed programs, procedures, and updates related to all student information/database systems and communication structures.

Professional Development

  • Participate in university, divisional, and departmental training and development activities.
  • Attend regional or national workshops/conferences for continued professional development and training.
  • Stay current with trends in higher education, community development, diversity and social justice, intercultural competence, student learning, and student engagement.
  • Develop connections with staff in various university offices including, but not limited to, student diversity programs and services, office of international programs, CSU police department, CSU health network, student organizations, conflict resolution and student conduct services, and case management.
  • Demonstrate a professional commitment to diversity, social justice, inclusion, equity, and intercultural competence by involvement in teaching, research/creative activity, and service to the profession.


A master’s degree and seven years of professional work experience with progressive levels of responsibility in housing and residence life in higher education are required. Five years of direct supervision of full-time professional staff are also required. A successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with university stakeholders and have excellent supervision, organizational, and crisis management skills. The director must have a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Ten or more years of professional work experience in housing and residence life is preferred.

Additional characteristics of the successful candidate as noted by key stakeholders include:

  • Possess a proven track record of serving student populations, which has laid the foundation for leading an organization centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for data-driven leadership and decision-making, coupled with the ability to think strategically about the bigger picture and direction of university housing.
  • Must be an emotionally intelligent leader who can manage up, anticipate needs, and build and maintain the trust of the multiple stakeholders with whom they will interact.
  • Be politically astute, with the ability to navigate university and departmental structures with finesse.
  • Lead while fostering a sense of belonging in both staff and residential students.
  • Maintain a visible presence and be available to, and approachable by, staff and multiple stakeholders across DSA and the university.
  • Must be a strong communicator with the ability to manage and communicate in all directions of the organization.


Laura Giles served as the director of university housing for approximately nine years, prior to being promoted in 2019 to associate executive director within the department. Following Giles’ promotion, Helena Gardner was hired as the director of university housing.

In mid-2022, Gardner accepted a promotional opportunity at Michigan State University. Nick Sweeton, associate executive director for HDS, has served as interim director since June of 2022 and will remain in this capacity until a successful candidate is identified for the permanent position.


Now is an exciting time at CSU; a successful candidate will find many opportunities for innovation and creation under this new vision promoting new ways of approaching the work of residential life and imaginatively emerging from the realities of recent years. This fall, university housing will pilot a new and innovative approach to the future of the housing profession at CSU. With this new philosophical and organizational experiment, a new director of university housing will benefit from being adept at managing change, inspiring excellence, and generating buy-in across the unit.

As a change manager, the new director will need to develop ongoing communication with the entire university housing team, lead proactively, and be able to take calculated risks as the department moves forward through an era of significant and exciting transformation. The opportunities to break away from the “old” mode of residence life are endless for a new person in this role.

Additional opportunities and challenges for the director of university housing are as follows:

  • With the recent efforts to forge new paths to university housing work, a new director must show a healthy respect for these initiatives and support, execute, and evaluate these ongoing plans.
  • Given the changes that the housing profession has navigated over the past few years, a new director will find success in approaching the team with high empathy and emotional intelligence to increase staff buy-in.
  • A new leader would benefit from embarking on a listening and learning tour internally with HDS and university housing and with DSA and other pertinent partnerships.
  • The director must align decisions and strategies to meet the intended outcomes of the unit, therefore they must exhibit a leadership philosophy that is proactive and focused on an identified vision for the department.
  • CSU HDS operates in a generally flat organizational structure, giving staff ample access to almost all positional leaders. As a result, the department is deeply focused on relationships. A new leader will need to manage and maintain relationships while also moving forward with important decisions to benefit students and the department long term.
  • This role will present a great opportunity for someone with a residential curriculum background to support and build those efforts while reenvisioning an organizational structure and philosophy that will support learning goals and outcomes.


The university housing unit is in the midst of an ambitious, innovative evolution of housing and residential life practice. University housing is moving toward a model with fewer “generalist” staff and more “specialist” staff. The department is fostering a deeper focus on the mental health of students and staff and re-envisioning how to animate the deeply held values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. University housing strives to be a leader in the student housing industry by defining the future of the profession.

After joining CSU’s department of university housing, the following will initially define success for the director:

  • A successful leader has taken the opportunity to try new and improved ways to accomplish the work of university housing.
  • The director has developed and implemented strategies to get the university housing team onboard and supportive of changes coming to the department.
  • The new director has begun to establish and maintain collaborative relationships across the university, DSA, and HDS.
  • The director has taken a close look at the department’s student and professional staff roles and is beginning to understand if what staff are being asked to do aligns with current goals and priorities.
  • The director is becoming familiar with managing the day-to-day and has not allowed the challenges of the day to hinder the need to be visionary in the approach to the work.

Institution & Location


Housing & Dining Services (HDS) works to create a safe and supportive on-campus living and learning environment. The largest department on campus, HDS employs 450 full-time staff and 1,700 hourly and student staff and is responsible for all residential facilities, including residence halls, university apartments, and the CSU mountain campus. HDS is a fully comprehensive housing program including dining services. Through the values of customer-first service, integrity, respect, inclusivity, innovation, and stewardship, HDS develops dynamic housing and dining experiences to enhance personal growth and global engagement. HDS is an auxiliary enterprise , which will generate approximately $105 million in revenue for the 2024 fiscal year.

A variety of living options and price points are available to residential students. HDS houses 6,200 undergraduate students in 15 residence halls and 2,500 undergraduate, graduate, and families in five apartment complexes. The residence halls consist of both older and newer facilities, and community bath and suite-style options. Residence hall students have the opportunity to reside in a variety of living learning communities or theme communities, where they can live alongside peers with similar majors, interests, and/or identities.

HDS’ apartment community consist of two complexes for graduate students and students with families; an International House programmed for students from other countries and cultures and a complex primarily for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Most apartment facilities house CSU students and their partner/family year round. In the summer, many residence halls are rented out to conference programs.

HDS also manages four dining halls and two convenience stores. HDS anticipates launching the use of delivery robots in fall 2023, which will enable students to order food and have it delivered to the front door of their residential facility.

StarRez is utilized to manage housing applications and occupancy. Maxient software is used for student conduct.

In addition to university housing, HDS consists of the following units:

  • Housing and Dining Services Facilities
  • Conference and Event Services
  • The CSU Mountain Campus
  • Occupancy and Operations
  • Residential Dining Services
  • RamCard Office
  • Technology Services
  • Communications & Sustainability
  • Projects and Outreach
  • Business Services

Mission, vision, and priorities

Housing organizational chart


Mari Strombom, Executive Director

Mari Strombom was hired as the executive director of Housing & Dining Services (HDS) in May 2017 after serving as the associate executive director since January 2008. Strombom has over 30 years of experience in higher education, primarily at CSU, and has worked in both student unions and in housing. Her work experience also includes serving as the director of campus activities, associate director of residence life, assistant director of residence life, and program coordinator for campus activities. In addition to her higher education experience she spent three years working for Hewlett Packard as a diversity consultant and as a human resources generalist.

Strombom received a master’s degree in education from Colorado State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. She enjoys working with others to find solutions to challenges, supporting staff at all levels of the organization, and finding new ways to support the ever-changing needs of the students who live in on-campus housing.


Nick Sweeton, Associate Executive Director

Nick Sweeton serves as associate executive director of HDS and will serve as the direct supervisor for the director of university housing. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Sweeton attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he began his path into student affairs as a Resident Assistant. A proud Ram, he received his master of science degree in student affairs in higher education from Colorado State University in 2001. Prior to returning to CSU for this current role in 2019, he worked in a variety of roles at Humboldt State University in northern California; New Mexico State University; the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Arizona, and the University of Massachusetts Boston.



The Division of Student Affairs fosters a campus community that supports students in the development of their unique potential, inspiring them to be active learners, successful graduates, and engaged global citizens.


Supporting all students holistically. The root of our work is the students. We aim to serve all Rams in their unique identities, experiences, and needs. We invest in our students by focusing on wellness, development, career, community, belonging, leadership, service, sustainability, and engagement.

Forging paths to meaning-making and fostering curiosity. Learning is at the heart of the university experience. We create opportunities that develop students’ potential and promise by connecting academics to the lived experiences of self and others. Students are encouraged to approach learning with an open mind to better engage with each other and the world.

Reflecting on and refining what we do. Our dynamic campus community demands a student-centered practice. We consistently reflect on our work and refine our approach to best serve all students. We innovate and evolve our approaches through scholarship, assessment, responsible resource stewardship, and experiences of students, faculty, and staff.

All our work is connected. Collaboration is a foundational approach to our work. We work across the division and the university to best serve students. Divisional, departmental, and programmatic outcomes are strengthened through relationships that are intentional, innovative, and interconnected.

Striving to create more just communities. Inclusion strengthens our campus learning, living, and working environments by honoring diverse stories and experiences that promote a sense of belonging. We recognize that systems of oppression exist and have differential impact on students, faculty, and staff experiences, and we strive to make our campus more equitable and inclusive.


Dr. Blanche Hughes, Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Blanche Hughes received her bachelor’s degree from Earlham College, a master’s of education degree in student affairs, and a doctorate in sociology from CSU. She is currently in her fifteenth year as the vice president for student affairs at CSU and serves on the president’s leadership team. In this role, Hughes works with a division that collaborates with other units in the university community providing support for students and staff to be successful. Hughes teaches a first-year undergraduate seminar course, as well as teaches and advises in the student affairs in higher education graduate program.

Before becoming vice president, Hughes spent six years as the associate vice president for student affairs, eleven years as the director of black student services at CSU, and also served as a professor of the sociology department at Pikes Peak Community College for two years, one of those years as chair of the department.



Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, is among the nation’s leading research universities, enrolling approximately 34,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1870, CSU is classified with the Carnegie Doctoral Very High Research Universities and is the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. CSU is recognized as a top-tier university in U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges and Universities” rankings. Located an hour north of the Denver metro area, Fort Collins is a vibrant and progressive community of 165,000, situated on the front range of the Rocky Mountains with easy access to numerous cultural opportunities.

Mission, vision, and guiding principles

Strategic plan


Total enrollment: 32,428

Undergraduate: 24,729

Graduate: 7,636

Retention rate: 84%

Male: 46%

Female: 54%


Colorado State University is committed to embracing diversity through the inclusion of individuals reflective of characteristics such as: age, culture, different ideas and perspectives, disability, ethnicity, first generation status, familial status, gender identity and expression, geographic background, marital status, national origin, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, medical diagnosis, documentation status, and veteran status with special attention given to populations historically underrepresented or excluded from participation in higher education. The university’s commitment to diversity is a longstanding one that reflects its role and mission as a land-grant institution.


Amy Parsons, President

Amy Parsons is the 16th president of Colorado State University. Prior to being named the president, Parsons served in various senior executive leadership roles at CSU and the CSU system and combines her higher education experience with a private sector background. Before her most recent role as CEO of Mozzafiato, LLC, Parsons was executive vice chancellor of the CSU system from 2015 to 2020, vice president for university operations at CSU from 2009 to 2015, and deputy general counsel and associate legal counsel at CSU Fort Collins from 2004 to 2009. As vice president of operations at CSU, she helped navigate the fiscal challenges of the great recession, supported the first comprehensive salary equity survey to uncover and remedy gender-based inequities, and oversaw a historic physical transformation that included the construction and renovation of state-of-the-art classroom buildings, parking structures, research facilities, and an on-campus stadium. She worked as a litigation attorney for the Denver law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, & Farber (now Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck) from 1999 to 2004.

Parsons holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from CSU and a juris doctorate from the University of Colorado.

President’s cabinet



CSU is dedicated to taking care of faculty and staff by providing a wide range of benefits that promote health, financial security, and overall well-being.

For information on employee benefits offered at CSU, see here.


The salary range for this position is $105,000.00-$120,000.00, depending on experience.

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Julie A. Leos at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email

Visit the Colorado State website at

Colorado State University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action.