In this Q&A, Katie Horowitz, director of Residential Life and assistant dean for student engagement, and Dion Crommarty, assistant director of Residential Life, answer a few questions about their work in and the many new opportunities they are creating for students to connect, learn and thrive.
Q: How do you try to innovate?
Dion: It’s always about being willing to set the foundation to try new things. We are working to get students’ feedback. If something doesn’t work, we are prepared to regroup and try something else.
Katie: Everything is new this year, from our new staff teams to our new housing, new dining options and new events. We are going big with our programming. We are trying new things, and it is exciting and scary. We are always looking at national trends and keeping our ideas fresh.
We are kicking off the school year with Welcome Week, Sept. 25-Oct. 1. Students move in on Monday and some will participate in Convocation on Tuesday. Wednesday night we are putting an arcade in the Campus Library and a laser light show on the Plaza. Then on Friday, we are producing our largest event and going until midnight: ARC After Dark is all about fun, connection and celebration with a glow-in-the-dark theme.
We are creating reasons for students to stay on campus into the evenings and weekends. Students are going to have so many activities this Welcome Week!
Q: What is the core of your work?
Dion: I am student-first. Student advocacy and student voice are most important. If students aren’t happy, then I’m not happy.
Katie: Creating opportunities for students to connect, learn and thrive. I want them to feel like they belong at UW Bothell. College should be a transformative experience — while also fun! (Dion says “Ditto!”)
One way we do that in Residential Life is through quarterly Husky Chats. All residents meet with their resident advisers (RAs) to connect about specific topics at least once a quarter. Mentoring and supporting students is the foundation of our community.
We’re also laying the groundwork for our Residential Hall Association council this year, aiming to give a voice to all residential students on campus. Right now, we’re starting off as an informal group, but we’re planning to be official by the 2024 autumn quarter. Along the way, we’re really focusing on making decisions and giving feedback that positively impacts our community.
Q: How does UW Bothell’s strategic priorities of strengthening diversity and equity, and enhancing community and campus engagement fit into your work?
Dion: This year, one of our focuses has been diversity, equity, inclusion and justice training — and understanding how we have impact on the residential community, the UW Bothell community and the larger community as a whole. When we say building community, we want all students to be included in that community. We are always critically thinking about who is not at the table and making sure that we include those voices.
Katie: And we are all about enhancing campus engagement. Using a curricular approach, we are strengthening partnerships on campus, and developing new and stronger programs for students. Our goal is for students to know they belong. In Residential Life, our tagline this year is “This is home!”
A couple of collaborations coming up this year include bringing the Collaboratory to Summit Hall for events and bringing in the academic advisers to the Summit main lounge. Our RAs are super pumped to build a tight-knit community with our residents. They’re even linking up with campus partners to make our halls feel more like home. From hosting movie nights with discussions to inviting speakers to discuss topics such as universal design, we’re doing all sorts of cool stuff to make our residence hall the place to be.
Q: What are you working on today?
Katie: We are working to open the Residential Village to students, and increasing the scope and scale of Welcome Week events. We have been challenged to go bold and that is what you will see during Welcome Week and throughout this academic year. Just wait until Springfest!
Dion: Everything! I want this campus to be a sticky campus. We want students to stay on campus and build community. Our team is working on energizing the residential life team and planning programs.
Q: How does who you are show up in your work?
Dion: I am always high energy. I want work to be fun. I try to create a work environment that includes others, and I am always inviting others in. I come from a place of care. I want to give students the amazing college experience that I had!
Katie: I am always working to make things better. Creating new ways for students to engage on campus is so exciting! I love getting others involved and excited about student engagement.
Q: Where is your favorite spot on campus — and why?
Dion: It used to be The Commons in Commons Hall, I loved watching students hang out, play pool and build community. Now it’s the Terrace Dining Pavilion. Seeing that same energy level from our UW Bothell community — and the food, of course!
Katie: Right now, it’s walking up the Promenade between Summit Hall and the Terrace Dining Pavilion. This project was a long time coming, and seeing this space come to life is amazing. Watching the excitement on students’ faces as they walk through the space, it has all been worth it!
Q: What is your favorite thing about working at UW Bothell?
Dion: I love the UW Bothell family atmosphere on campus. I love the people! I am always saying “hi” to everyone I meet. It’s what I do.
Katie: For me, it’s watching this campus grow and change over the last decade. That keeps me engaged in the work. We are building programs for students, and I love seeing the joy that they bring students.