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Novak is runner-up in case study competition

December 5, 2017

Rachel NovakRachel Novak, residence director for Richardson and Emry Halls at Dakota State University, was the runner-up in a recent professional competition.

The case study competition took place at the Upper Midwest Region – Association of College and University Housing Officers (UMR–ACHUHO) conference, held in Omaha, Nebr. in November. Novak and Aisha Lee, residence director of Higbie Hall, attended the event.

“The UMR-ACUHO Annual Conference provides an opportunity for housing professionals to connect with and learn from other professionals within the Upper Midwest Region,” said Dillon Pearson, the assistant director of residence life at DSU. The UMR–ACUHO is made up of eight midwestern states and one Canadian province.

The three-day conference includes sessions that focus on a variety of topics, such as social justice, facilities or supervision, he explained. “In addition, there is a case study competition that allows young professionals to work on a unique case study.” Young professionals are those with less than three years’ experience working in residence life.

The studies are created by the group’s Professional Development Training Committee; two-person teams are tasked to work through the case by discussing the different factors at play and determining a response. The cases are somewhat ambiguous, but have details which are relevant to the current higher education landscape.

Novak was paired with an assistant complex director from the University of Kansas, Alex Miller, to deal with a situation involving an RA’s concerns about a roommate conflict. The pair had not seen the case study prior to the competition, so she and her partner discussed the case, the issues involved, and created a plan of action and a follow-up plan. It was interesting working with Miller, she added, as the two schools’ resources and protocols are different, and the two sometimes had different points of view.

The exercise is intended to develop critical thinking, adaptability and teamwork skills, Pearson said, and Novak found this to be true.

“I gained experience incorporating other’s different experiences and approaches,” she said, “and organizing my thoughts and thinking through issues while being put on the spot.”

Novak, who is in her first year with DSU’s residence life department, also gained experience by attending other conference events, such as workshops and speakers. “It was interesting to hear all about the different campuses and how they deal with implementation, housing students, and how to be proactive,” Novak said. The sessions on diversity were particularly important to her service on the DSU diversity committee.