Northwest Association of College & University Housing Officers

NWACUHO Scholarship Reflections: ACUHO-I Mid-Level Institute

By Ben Medeiros

First, thank you NWACUHO for the opportunity to attend the Mid-Level Leadership Institute (MLLI).  Given the cost of this conference, I may not have been able to attend without the support of NWACUHO and the scholarship.  The institute was a great opportunity to reflect on my own career within Housing and Residence Life, and develop further as a leader to benefit not only my own path, but our field, our institution, and the students and professional staff I work closely with.

One of the biggest aha moments for me was during the opening keynote, in which a Senior Student Affairs professional referred to the VP of Student Affairs position as a ‘classic’ mid-level leadership position.   I think her statement caught a lot of us by surprise, including the MLLI facilitators, but the more that I reflect and unpack this, the more it resonates with me.  Many of us think that an advanced position could mean more autonomy in our decision-making authority, but the reality often is that as we advance, these decisions do not become more independent but that much more collaborative and interdependent.

There were so many of these moments that resonated with me, but to avoid this turning into a novel, I thought I would quickly share some my favorite notes from the conference.

  • Know your housing master plan and the priorities for your Division and Institution. If you don’t know these, you could be working off the wrong map.
  • If you’re not managing your image (or your department’s image), someone else is. Sometimes you have to toot your own horn.
  • When making a tough decision, make the best decision with the information available and was the best right thing to do.
  • Learn how to handle critics. If they’re a student, consider hiring them.
  • Never pick a fight with the media.
  • Document everything. You never know when you’ll need to cover your (or your department’s) back.
  • To successfully support students, all the ‘pillars’ of a housing department (Residence Life, Facilities, Operations, e.g.) must be successful and actively working together in balance.
  • Build your network before you need their support. Who are your advisors both on campus and at other institutions?
  • Inclusion and retention are important for students, and also for our professional staff.
  • Be prepared to talk about what you want to change in 90 seconds or less with a story that animates the current condition and what needs to be done to change that.
  • Never speak bad about a current or previous institution.
  • Effective assessment happens when data, narrative, and visual impact overlap.
  • Always be gracious with others in a search process, and especially if you’re not successful in a search. It may leave a good impression and create an opportunity for next time.

The most valuable part of the conference for me was the networking with other professionals across the nation and from Canada.  While there weren’t others who had the exact similar position as mine, their experiences as mid-level professionals mirrored my own and gave me an additional space to process and reflect on my experience including departmental re-organizations, staffing structures, political environments, and even the supervision of other mid-level professionals.  I enjoyed getting to know Scott Hammell and hearing about his experiences as a Director at a small Catholic liberal arts college, and connecting with Sarah Sotvedt from the University of Sakatchewan, the only other attendee from the NWACUHO region to my knowledge.  My brief time with Jan Walbert, the senior consultant for K&A’s Executive Search Services, was invaluable.  I also had my own geek out moment and in-depth conversation with Stephen Berg, who is one of the authors of an article I quote all the time on my campus, and sometimes in the ACUHOI Forum – but that’s a whole different Soundings Blog article.

I left MLLI with a lot of great memories, great insight into being more successful in our field, and with the start of new relationships that I hope to maintain for years to come.  It was a great experience and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity.  If you’re thinking about attending MLLI, do it.  Register, and apply for the scholarship available through NWACUHO.  I’m so glad I did.

Ben Medeiros




Ben Medeiros is the Assistant Director for Academic Initiatives & Assessment for University Housing & Dining Services at Oregon State University. He has more than 10 years of experience in Housing & Residential Education, working previously at Santa Clara University and Washington State University.





Learn more about Scholarships & Awards through NWACUHO!


Each year, NWACUHO supports professional development for its membership through multiple scholarship opportunities to attend regional and national conferences and training.

For the NWACUHO Annual Conference, we accept applications and nominations for the below scholarships. Visit the individual scholarship page to learn more about the scholarships, and click on each form below the scholarship list to nominate an applicant. All scholarship nominations are due December 2, 2019 at 11:59pm Pacific. Recipients will be notified via email the week of January 6, 2020.

We will accept applications and nominations for the below scholarships each spring.


NWACUHO Awards recognize the work of members in our region in a multiple areas of experience and expertise. Nominations are collected and reviewed before annual conference. At the conference, The Best of the Northwest program award is selected by conference attendees, and the Annual Conference Case Study Competition winners are announced.

Specific information on each award and the criteria used for selection are listed below:

Nominate someone for any of these awards here!  Nominations are due Monday, December 2, 2019 at 11:59PM Pacific.

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