Originally from the Midwest, Mandi Clark joined Oregon Tech in 2004 with a passion for the world of Student Affairs. After years as a resident assistant (RA) and hall director in campus housing through her undergraduate and graduate schooling, Mandi continued working in residence life as a professional hall director, area coordinator, and assistant director, before coming to Oregon Tech to serve our students as they live and learn in their on-campus home.
“Oregon Tech offered me an incredible opportunity to continue working with students in their residential home, but also an opportunity to join a team of dedicated professionals who live their work every day, serving students and offering them a high-quality education,” shares Mandi.
Working as Director of Housing and Residence Life at Oregon Tech, Mandi has had the opportunity to change lives—others and her own. With encouragement from her supervisor, Mandi completed her doctorate in 2020 while working full time. She did so even after scrambling to find a new university when Concordia in Portland suddenly closed and then hurrying to land a dissertation committee and to finish—while launching a residence hall response team to serve students at the start of the pandemic.
“Working in Housing on a college campus means as much as you plan for any given day, you must practice flexibility and resiliency,” said Mandi.
Responding to early COVID-19 protocols, she assembled her capable team of full-time and student staff to introduce heightened cleaning plans, develop isolation rooms and unfortunately, help students to begin to move home as the spring 2020 term moved to remote delivery. An important fact remained—some students face housing insecurities and do not have the option to move to a different location. The Housing and Residence Life staff would continue to serve these students on campus, coordinating with on-campus dining to make sure that students—and staff—stayed fed and healthy.
“The pandemic meant that most of the on-campus student population chose to leave campus to return to their permanent residence to isolate at home,” Mandi shares. “Some students did choose to remain on campus with nine full-time Housing and Residence Life staff continuing to report to work each day to serve these students. We also partnered with Sodexo Dining to ensure students who remained on campus had access to meals, even as they needed to get their meals to-go.”
Several student workers also remained on campus and in campus housing through spring and summer terms. “We had RA student staff members as well as Student Success Mentors, Service Desk student staff members, a few Residence Hall Association student staff members, and student custodial and maintenance staff members. We honestly couldn’t have done all that we did spring term without these teams,” said Mandi.
The return of students to campus remained important to Oregon Tech and Housing and Residence Life. As fall term approached, the team continued to keep in close contact with students interested in on-campus housing- answering questions and providing information about keeping housing safe and healthy. Oregon Tech opened campus housing in September with the highest number of on-campus students ever.
Having so many students on campus fall term meant an increase in cleaning protocols and implementing new approaches to trash removal when the Dining Center had to move to all take out due to new regulations. Housing and Residence Life staff members pulled together as a team and helped students appropriately dispose of their to-go containers each day, while also continuing with the increased cleaning and sanitizing protocols each day to help keep the on-campus community safe and clean.
Mandi shared, “Residential students have been cooperative and supportive of the efforts to uphold institutional and housing expectations around safety measures, and have helped maintain a safe and clean environment.” The full-time and student staff team continues to work hard to ensure a safe and clean environment for all residential students.“Having over 600 students choose to come to campus and join our on-campus community—even though we shared that experiences may be different—was amazing,” shared Mandi. “These students are the heart and soul of our department and keep me coming back every day. Even as they learned that many classes would be remote or some sort of hybrid remote/in-person, they have all been resilient and supportive in this ever-changing environment. They are inspiring to me and push me to continue to find innovative ways to support them to enjoy their time on campus enrolled at Oregon Tech.”