New housing and residence life director moves in
while previous director reflects on his career
After an extensive search process, which began in February 2014, the Housing and Residence Life office has found a new director.
Gary Bice, who earned his master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Ball State University, has a long history in residence life. He was a resident adviser for three years, a resident director for seven years and a director of residence life for 19 years.
A women’s volleyball coach for eight seasons at Mount Saint Mary College, Bice also has three conference championships on his resume.
Bice officially started as director on Thursday, Nov. 6. He said he is already enjoying his new position and living in the Upper Peninsula.
“An early storm provided snow days on my third and fourth official days here, so what’s not to love,” Bice said.
The student-focused, friendly and collaborative atmosphere as well as exposure to the natural environment Bice said he has experienced in his time at NMU all contributed to his choice to accept the position. He said he sees a lot of potential for the university to evolve.
“There is so much good energy across campus for bringing Northern to the next level, so to have the Housing and Residence Life office be part of that evolution is very exciting,” Bice said.
Molly Egelkraut, a sophomore public relations major and Hunt Hall president, expressed similar positive feelings about the housing and residence life atmosphere at NMU.
Egelkraut said she likes the freedom of choice and the students’ ability to influence what programs and events happen in the residence halls.
“I got involved with housing and residence life because I wanted to have a voice where I live and I felt it was the best way to do that,” Egelkraut said.
Another factor that helped persuade Bice to accept the job offer from NMU was the size of the school, he said.
Bice has worked at large schools, such as St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. with an enrollment of over 20,000 students, as well as small schools, like Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. with an enrollment of around 3,000 students. However, Bice said he prefers mid-size universities the most.
“I personally prefer mid-sized universities,” Bice said. “You can see the impact you have on students in a much shorter time-frame than what I have experienced at larger ones.”
The application process was fairly typical for a director-level position and included submitting application materials, completing a Skype interview with the search committee, an on-campus interview day and formal presentation.
“It was one of the most professional search processes I have ever experienced and helped inform my decision to accept the position when it was offered,” Bice said.
Carl Holm, the previous director, began as a student at NMU. After a one year graduate assistantship in the psychology department, Holm became the resident director in Halverson Hall in 1973.
“That was the most significant experience I had,” Holm said. “I felt it was the greatest professional and personal development I experienced and that’s where the action is. It’s where we make a difference one person at a time.”
Holm left Halverson in 1976 and served in several positions in the Dean of Students office until 1987.
That year, two offices, the former housing and dining services office and the former residence life office, were combined to create what is now known as the Housing and Residence Life department. He served as director of housing and residence life for 27 years.
Now retired, Holm said he is enjoying his newly found free time by spending time with his grandchildren and fishing.
“Retirement is like Saturday every day,” Holm said. “It has been very relaxing.”
Retirement took Holm some time to get used to though. Holm said he does miss his staff and working with students.
“I do miss what I did because it was a part of who I felt I was,” Holm said. “I miss that feeling of accomplishing things you set out to do and seeing change because of something you did.”
Bice said in his brief interaction with the previous director, Holm said he was more than willing to serve as a resource if Bice had any questions about the office.
After considering everything he had heard from those who knew Holm, Bice was not surprised by this friendly offer.
“Following someone who has such a rich history with a department or institution is always a challenge,” Bice said. “However, honoring the traditions and history while creating new ones is part of the excitement.”
Holm said he was glad for the new director’s opportunity at NMU and hoped he would build on the strengths of the department, which he identified as their unique approach to student life, valuing staff and students and emphasizing student involvement at an individual level.
“I hope he gets the same rewards that I got from the career because it was very rewarding,” Holm said.
Bice expressed his happiness to be in the Upper Peninsula and at NMU because of the friendly, accepting atmosphere and the proximity to nature.
“I am thankful for the warm welcome I have received from across the university,” Bice said. “It has made my transition go smoothly and shown me just how special Yoopers are.”