EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: NEW ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS FOR
RESIDENTIAL LIFE AND HOUSING
A dynamic duo has joined the housing team to help lead the
charge in becoming a Tier One residential campus. Kenny Mauk and
Dean Kennedy have a history of success in the field of
Residential Life and Housing and have brought their expertise to
the University of Houston.
The duo started their positions on the very same day back in
October 2011, Mauk as the Associate Director for Operations and
Outreach and Kennedy as Associate Director of Residential Life.
For Residential Life, Kennedy will be responsible for the students
as they are living on campus; specifically by overseeing
programming, conduct, community development, and the
co-curricular environment. He will also oversee departmental
assessment initiatives and support communication between
Residential Life & Housing and Facilities Management &
Mauk will be responsible for coordinating the work of the
central housing office, which includes the application process
and room assignments. He is also working on summer conferences
as well as the housing marketing efforts. Mauk said even on his
first day, he was immediately pleased with his decision to come
to UH. The day started for both by meeting Don Yackley,
Executive Director for RLH, for breakfast.
“Immediately I felt a sense of teamwork and camaraderie,” Mauk
said. “I was really affirmed in my decision and felt very
welcomed by everybody.”
Mauk, originally from Kentucky, began his career in housing as a
resident assistant at Morehead State University in 1990. He then
transferred to Western Kentucky University and became a hall
director where he decided he wanted his career to be in Student
Affairs. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1994 and then moved
to Lubbock to work on his Master of Public Administration at
Texas Tech University while working as Residence Life Director.
After Lubbock, he headed back to Kentucky where he was the
Assistant Director for Service at University of Louisville
followed by Director of Housing and Residence Life at Sullivan
University. He then joined the team at Century Campus Housing
Management in Houston from May 2000 to July 2003 where he
managed university properties across the nation including George
Mason University, Texas A&M University, and Texas Southern University.
Mauk came to UH from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas
where he served as the Senior Assistant Director after his
position at Century Campus Housing Management. While serving at
Texas Woman’s, Mauk supervised and coordinated a 50 percent
growth in campus housing. Mauk said he enjoyed the city and
mission of Texas Woman’s University but had begun to feel like
he wasn’t as challenged as he wanted to be. He began a selective
job search and discovered the position opening at UH and decided
to apply. He got the call from UH and came down to Houston for
“I really felt that the folks I visited with while I was here
had the same approach to Student Affairs and working with
students that I do. Everybody was eager to help us grow and I
was really excited about that, so when I was offered the job, it
was an easy decision for me,” Mauk said.
Kennedy was excited to apply for this position opening at UH
given the opportunities available to initiate many positive
changes and knowing the leadership of the department, Yackley,
whom he worked with previously. Kennedy, originally from New
Hampshire, has also had a successful career in residential life
and housing that has led him around the nation. He started as a
resident assistant for three years while pursuing his bachelor’s
degree at the University of New Hampshire where he initially
became interested in a career in housing and residential life.
As an RA, Kennedy said he was responsible for a floor of
students, becoming somewhat of a big brother to them and helped
them adjust to college life.
“The ability to watch them grow and develop over the course of
the year is amazing and really rewarding. To be able to do that
on a professional level is powerful because you are able to see
that growth and development over time,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy then served as a hall director at Franklin Pierce
College in Rindge, New Hampshire for a year and then decided to
enter graduate school at the University of Northern Colorado.
There he received his Master of Arts in Education Leadership and
Policy Studies while also working as a graduate residence hall
director and summer graduate assistant. Kennedy then moved to
California July 1999 to become Residence Director at the
University of the Pacific followed by serving as a Coordinator
for Residential Education – Crown College at the University of
California, Santa Cruz.
In August 2002, Kennedy decided to go back to the University of
Northern Colorado to pursue his doctorate and worked as a
graduate assistant. He then moved to North Carolina in June 2004
to serve as Assistant Director for West Campus and then as
Assistant Director for Conference Services and Residential
Leadership. Kennedy finally landed at California State
University-Monterey Bay in October 2006 where he met and worked
with Yackley to revamp the housing system and increase retention
for residents living on campus from below 50 percent to 79
percent after only three years. They also brought retention for
student staff from under 50 percent to 90 percent. He said he
hopes they can achieve similar success at UH.
“The opportunity to make a huge difference at an institution
where administrators, faculty, staff and students all wanted to
make a difference made applying here really exciting because not
only do we have the potential to change and be more student and
learning focused, but we have the capacity for it,” Kennedy
Currently Kennedy is working with other Residential Life &
Housing staff members on several assessment projects as they
strive to build a solid base of department values, structures
and programs. For example, he has been working with student
staff, campus partners and professional staff to rewrite the RLH
mission. He is looking at the department’s position descriptions
and programming standards, and analyzing the learning outcomes
for their constituent groups. They also have plans to expand the
Faculty-in-Residence program and redevelop the conduct process,
working with the Dean of Students office to streamline the
process for students.
Kennedy is also in the process of working with his staff to
develop theme and living/learning communities that will extend
to sophomores, juniors and seniors where residents in the same
living space will each take 1 to 2 classes together and share a
common academic or non-academic interest. These residents would
also take part in a mentoring program to first year residents
who would maintain similar academic/non-academic interests.
Kennedy hopes building these structures in the department will
help residents living on campus and the RLH staff be successful
in their endeavors as the residential population grows on
“If we can put a structure in place to help people be successful
so they can build relationships - that is what is really
important to me. That’s where the position descriptions and
conduct process comes in so that everyone knows that this is the
system they have to operate in and be successful. That’s really
what keeps me excited about working in this field,” Kennedy
Mauk is currently working with his staff to develop and enhance
processes on the operational side of the department, such as the
application process, to make sure the processes will remain
reliable year after year. He said it is also important to get
the department prepared for the additions of two new residence
halls, Cougar Village II and the sophomore housing replacing
Cougar Place. This will add 2,000 beds to the campus by 2013.
“We want to position ourselves as a residential program that is
considered a Tier One residential campus and we are working hard
to get ourselves there,” Mauk said.
Mauk said he is excited about the growth and happy with his
decision to move back to Houston although he admits he misses
being close to his family. He said he was on the road a lot the
first time he was in Houston so he hadn’t really gotten to take
advantage of the city. He said coming from the suburbs in
Denton, he is enjoying the quieter areas of the city such as
Memorial Park, the local farmers markets or taking his dog,
Dutch, to a dog park near his apartment. He also has a cat named
JoJo that has seven toes on each paw.
This is the first time living in Texas for Kennedy. Currently he
is living on campus until his partner, Elyssia, a high school
French teacher, finishes up the semester in California. The two
are currently closing on a house to move into in mid January
with their dogs Bambou and Aito. He confesses he has not
adjusted to Houston drivers and is worried about the humid
summers, but said he is pleased with the southern hospitality
“I love the friendly people here. That’s something that is very
refreshing,” he said.
Thankfully, Mauk and Kennedy have made the University of Houston
their new home, and joined the team to lead the University of
Houston to its residential goal.