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Dean of housing to leave USF after 11 years

In the past 11 years, USF has added 34 new residential buildings, renovated three, partly renovated one complex and torn down another.

All of this activity took place under Dean of Housing and Residential Education Tom Kane, who will be ending his stay at USF July 1.

“I came here 11 years ago – I thought I would be here five,” he said.

Although Kane said he has enjoyed his job at USF, he can’t see himself retiring here. On July 7, he will start as the director of housing and resident life at Appalachian State University.

“I was looking at smaller towns – I’m not a city person,” he said. “I hope no one sees this as deserting.”

Appalachian State is located in Boone, N.C. and has an enrollment of about 16,000 students, 14,000 of whom of undergraduates.

However, the number of residents at the schools don’t differ. Appalachian State houses about 5,000 residents, according to its Web site,, and USF houses about 4,500, Kane said.

His expertise lies in building and renovating facilities, Kane said. Now that the University has its facilities under control, he said it’s time for him to move on and be replaced by someone more familiar with programs and student life.

When Kane started at USF in 1997, however, residential housing was in poor condition.

“I can comfortably say, 11 years ago, this wasn’t a nice place to live,” he said.

Kane said the buildings were in terrible shape and smelled of mildew and rot.

Since he started, Kane has been working with Housing and the University to improve on-campus living. In 1997, USF had 2,300 available beds and couldn’t fill them, Kane said.

“When the roofs leaked and the doors didn’t lock and the buildings smelled bad, it’s hard to do programmatic things to get students involved,” he said.

Holly Apartments, Maple Suites, Cypress Suites and Apartments, Magnolia Apartments and Greek Village were all built during Kane’s USF career. Castor Hall, Kosove Apartments, Beta Hall and parts of the Andros Complex were renovated. Village Apartments, located behind where Greek Village stands today, were torn down because they were rotting.

Now, USF has 4,500 beds and has to turn people away, Kane said.

By 2012, USF hopes to have all dorms either renovated or new. No room will be older than 15 years, Kane said.

He attributes Housing’s success to a close staff, support from the University and “team effort.”

What he will miss the most, he said, is the camaraderie among the housing staff, students and the University.

“I’ve never been anywhere this long before,” Kane said. “It’s going to be hard to walk away.”

Of all the people he’s worked with, he said former student body president Michael Griffin was the most memorable.

“He was my favorite student of all time,” he said. “I watched him grow up.”

Griffin graduated from USF in 2003 and served as student body president from 2001 to 2003. He said working with Kane throughout his collegiate career and beyond “has been a tremendous honor.”

“His impact was much greater than bricks and mortar,” he said. “He helped change the culture of the campus.”

Staff assistant for Housing and Residential Education Cheryl Sweat worked closely with Kane the entire time he’s been here. She said he was a good listener and that Housing would have a hard time replacing him.

“I really appreciate all of his help,” she said. “A lot of the new buildings have gone up while he was here.”

Lucy Willis, associate director of business and finance for Housing, called Kane’s departure a “real loss for the University and Housing.”

“He’s a fair, down-to-earth person trying to do the best thing for the University,” she said.

Kane said that, because it saddens him to leave, he won’t make a grand exit.

“I’d like to sneak out in the cover of darkness,” he said. “It’s going to be really hard.”