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University appoints new housing dean

USF is hoping its new dean of Housing and Residential Education will help break the University away from its “commuter campus” identity, said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree.

Ana Hernandez, the associate director of University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was hired Thursday. She will start at USF on Nov. 2.

Hernandez has 17 years of experience in residential facility management and higher education administration.

Hernandez started her career at the University of Charleston in West Virginia as a residential advisor. She worked for the housing department at the University of Southern California for nine years before she was hired at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“It’s exciting to return to a larger metropolitan area,” Hernandez said. “I enjoy the city environment, and Tampa is a great mix in the middle. Tampa is diverse and has all the right factors that students want to see in a living environment.”

Tyree said the University is working toward making USF a “more residential campus” by engaging students in different on-campus activities.

“We hope to enhance our residence halls and our Living-Learning Communities through academic initiatives and new ideas,” Tyree said. “The search committee felt that Hernandez best represented those initiatives.”

Hernandez said she has several new ideas for USF’s Housing and Residential Education.

“I can see more partnerships forming with academics and the expansion of the University’s Living-Learning communities,” Hernandez said. “I want to talk about the residential experience and broaden (it) all around.”

The search for the dean position began this spring, but was unsuccessful at that time because most of the applicants were “unqualified” and did not satisfy the search committee’s requirements, Tyree said.

Some of the applicants were hesitant about the position because of moving, Tyree said.

Toward the end of spring, Tyree said the University hired Spelman & Johnson Group, a consulting firm for higher education leadership positions, to help recruit more applicants.

“This summer brought us quality individuals and we narrowed the search down to two candidates,” Tyree said. “Both visited the University in late July for personal interviews and met with our search committee and some students.”

The finalists spent two days touring the campus, residence halls and Greek Housing. The candidates met with student organizations, Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Meningall and the search committee.

The nine-member search committee consisted of USF faculty, staff and students.

“We are adding a new leader and identity to our team. This offers us new ideas along with new leadership that will bring new opportunities for students,” Tyree said.