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KU Student Housing leader Diana Robertson to retire

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Diana Robertson, director of Student Housing at the University of Kansas, has announced her retirement effective June 27. In her 17 years at KU she has served as director for 11 years and associate director for residence life for six.

As KU Student Housing director, Robertson initiated an aggressive facilities master plan that continued renovations to existing halls and transformed Daisy Hill with the construction of the 700-bed Self and Oswald Halls. Under Robertson’s leadership, the new Daisy Hill Commons, with its classroom and tutoring services, represents a shift that brings academic services to where students live.

Robertson has overseen more than $178 million in renovation and construction projects. New construction includes McCarthy Hall apartments, Krehbiel scholarship hall, and the Central District residence hall and apartment complex now being built. Renovations have included Hashinger, GSP, six scholarship halls, two of the four Jayhawker Towers buildings, and current preparations for Corbin Hall.

“Diana has always had a ‘students first’ mentality,” said Tammara Durham, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, “and she has worked to create the most effective living and learning environment for our students. Her leadership is far-reaching and has changed the face of the KU campus for the better.

“Not only has she changed the Student Housing experience for generations of Jayhawks to come, she has paid careful attention to the professional development of countless graduate students and young professionals in the field of student affairs, serving both as mentor and advocate,” Durham said.

Robertson’s interest in KU’s globalization efforts led to her participation in the Global Housing summit in Hong Kong and a China study tour with the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International in 2009.

In March 2016, she initiated a similar study tour for a delegation of KU housing students and staff, and has since made presentations on the findings to KU campus partners. The 10-day tour of universities in Hong Kong and mainland China helped participants gain perspective on international students’ backgrounds, needs and expectations as they arrived at KU.

Robertson’s commitment to student development included serving on several committees for the American College Personnel Association, which bestowed its Emerging Professional Award and its Doctoral Research Award upon her. She is past president of the former Kansas College Student Personnel Association.  She has also been actively involved in the Kansas Student Affairs Conference.

In Robertson’s role as KU Student Housing director, she initially led the comprehensive housing program that included maintenance, custodial, accounting and human resources services. After the merger of these services into centralized campus services, she has worked collaboratively with Facilities Services, Information Technology, Shared Service Centers, Dining Services, KU Endowment, Design and Construction Management, General Counsel, Public Safety, student affairs units, and nearly 35 campus committees and other community constituents. She has been named one of KU’s Women of Distinction.

Prior to coming to KU, Robertson was an assistant director of University Housing at North Carolina State University and assistant director for residential education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has served student housing operations at Kansas State University, Western Illinois University, Lenoir-Rhyne University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Buena Vista University.

Robertson earned her Ph.D. from Kansas State University in higher education administration, a master’s in college student personnel from Western Illinois University, and a bachelor of arts degree in English and business management from Buena Vista University. Robertson and her spouse, Susan Butterfield, plan to remain in Lawrence. Retirement plans include international and domestic travel, and a return to the game of golf and other outdoor activities.

More than $200,000 in annual scholarships to returning residents
Academic success: More than 94 percent of first-time, full-time freshmen in student housing enroll for the next semester
5,100 residents choose student housing each year
Residence hall rates are almost $2,000 less per year than the national average for public schools
— College Board
$4 million alumni gift funded Krehbiel Scholarship Hall
Options include suites, private bedroom with shared bath, two-person rooms, scholarship halls, and apartments
Oswald and Self residence halls opened in 2015
One bill covers all costs: room, food, utilities, and wireless Internet
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities