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Erik Hayes Helps Create Campus’ ‘Family’ Residence Lifestyle

March 24, 2015


Loves Campus Culture: Erik Hayes, a member of the student affairs staff for 15 years, says “we have something precious here (in residence life) and I’m glad to be a part of it.” (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Erik Hayes took a precarious route to attending Rose-Hulman in the fall of 1993. But once he did, the Montana native never left, literally, serving as a confidante, counselor, and ally to thousands of students during 15 years as a member of the institute’s residence life staff.

Originally set to attend another college, Hayes heeded his father’s advice and visited Rose-Hulman during a summer flight layover through Indianapolis. He fell in love with the serenity of the campus and its community atmosphere.

“It just felt like home,” he says.

After earning bachelor’s (1997) and master’s  degrees (2001) in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman, the institute has truly become home for Hayes. He has lived in campus housing with his wife, Mel, and their two children during his several roles in residence life operations in the Office of Student Affairs. He will move off campus when he becomes Rose-Hulman’s fourth vice president for student affairs and dean of students on July 1.

“I adore the campus culture. We have something precious here and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Hayes says. “I have loved living in a freshman residence hall (Speed Hall) and helping students make the transition from high school to college. It’s an important time in a young person’s life, and the residence life staff is always here to help.”

As associate director of residence life, Kyle Rhodes will take over Hayes’ role of leading residence life operations from living on campus.

Hayes is ready for the next challenge in his career and family lifestyle. He has been a staff representative to Rose-Hulman’s Board of Trustees, been a freshman class advisor, and currently serves as the institute’s Title IX coordinator. He has organized events for the Parents’ Association and helped form the Young Alumni Council. He has also received the President’s Outstanding Service Award in 2007, the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2004, and Office of Student Affairs’ Jess Lucas Alumni Leadership Award in 2014.

“Erik has a long connection to Rose-Hulman and serving our students, and there is no doubt that Erik will be able to leverage his extensive Rose-Hulman knowledge to build upon our great student affairs culture,” says President Jim Conwell.

Hayes will replace Pete Gustafson, who is retiring after 38 years of service to Rose-Hulman and its students.

“I’m following in the footsteps of someone (Pete Gustafson) who has always put students and their interests first. That’s not going to change,” Hayes says. “I don’t know what has me more anxious, having the responsibilities that go with a new job or having to live off campus. Our children will miss being in the center of campus life and getting to know so many of the students. Rose-Hulman has been like one big happy family for us.”

As an engineering student, Hayes spent summers as a firefighter for the U.S. Forestry Service in his beloved western United States region. He was eager to be return to Rose-Hulman each fall.

“I wasn’t as much into engineering as I was into helping people become engineers,” he states about the career change from budding engineer to student affairs administrator. He is expected to complete his doctoral degree in higher education administration leadership this year from Indiana State University. “I feel great that I can help a student at any time and in any situation. They can identify with me, because I was once in their shoes. If a student confides in me that he/she is struggling in thermodynamics class, I can assure them that it’s going to be OK. I once struggled with the same class and same professor. I made it and they can, too.”

Hayes continues, “We always say ‘nobody does it alone.’ I enjoy being one of those people who plays a role in a student’s quest to walk across the stage at commencement.”