Over winter break, the area coordinators of the Westhampton and Richmond Dean’s offices merged with Housing, forming the Office of Residence Life and Undergraduate Student Housing.

Patrick Benner, formerly an associate dean for Richmond College, was selected to be the director of the new office.

“Patrick Benner has worked with students for many years, including on matters involving housing and educational programming,” Cynthia Price, director of media and public relations, said.

Price said Benner agreed to the change from associate dean to director of housing and residence life. In his new role, Benner is "responsible for the management of the Housing Office and the residence life program function that includes the Head Resident and RA program," Price said.

Benner's staff will also work closely with University Facilities to continue the university's housing redevelopment program, Price said.

Before switching offices, Benner worked closely with University Facilities on the North Court renovation project.

The new office and Benner’s position as director was announced to the student body through the university's Jan. 11 SpiderBytes message.

“This change has been made to enable a more efficient and streamlined residence life and housing program,” according to the SpiderByte. “Residence life and housing matters will be managed through this new office.”

This merge was announced just weeks after the administration announced all first-year housing would become co-ed starting in the next academic school year. This was not coincidence.

"Gradually, since 2007, more and more of our residence halls have become co-ed," said Steve Bisese, vice president of student development. "Beginning in August, first-year students will have the option to live in a co-ed hall. Because of this, there will be only a few halls that remain single sex. Therefore, now is the right time to manage residence life and housing through one office, working very closely with the Deans' offices."

All of the area coordinators now report to Benner. Their responsibilities will remain the same as before the merge took place.

"The bulk of their job remains the selection, training and supervision of the Head Resident/Resident Assistant program," Bisese confirmed. "They will continue to be the point person for emergencies and other personal concerns on nights and weekends. In my opinion, this is one of the most important jobs in student development. Few probably realize the extent of their duties."

The area coordinators will keep some responsibilities with the colleges, such as following up on students’ personal concerns.

Students can find the Housing and Residence Life Office in Whitehurst 103.

Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at julia.raimondi@richmond.edu