Skip to Main Content

Our Department Values and Pillars of Success

In the Office of Residence Life, we are dedicated to fostering a vibrant and inclusive residential community that supports our students' academic, personal, and social growth. Our team is committed to creating an environment where you can thrive, and we're excited to introduce the key aspects of our office. Please explore this section to learn more about the heart of our residence life community.

Departmental Values

Our department is founded on a set of core values that serve as the guiding principles for everything we do. They are the foundation of our commitment to creating a vibrant, inclusive, and supportive living and learning community for our residents. Each value represents our unwavering dedication to fostering an environment where our students can thrive academically, grow personally, and build meaningful connections. These values drive our daily efforts and inspire us to continually enhance the on-campus living experience for all.

About Our Values

Milton Rokeach, in The Nature of Human Values, provides the following definition of the word value: “an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposition or converse mode or end-state of existence.” His definition includes the word enduring, signaling that values are long lasting and not temporary. Values are chosen and guide our professional behavior and goals. Thus, the set of department values that the Office of Residence Life espouses must be ones that are enacted in our daily work lives, a task more easily written (or read) than done each day we work in our residence halls, Heritage Commons apartments, and Warfield Hall. 

We should not be naïve that living organizational values is easy; it is not. Rather, it is hard work especially when individual or organizational behavior with which we are dealing is oppositional to the values we wish to model. It is also difficult when we don’t fully understand an organization’s values or ourselves, making the enactment of values a significant challenge. The challenge becomes even greater when the organization’s values conflict with one’s own personal values. Reconciling these differences often is needed before an employee fulfills their duties to the best of their ability.

The set of values, detailed below in alphabetical order, was created in August 2004 by the professional staff working in the Office of Residence Life at that time. While it has been subject to clarification via language editing, most recently in July, 2010, this set has served us well as one of the foundations of our work. Therefore, the descriptors of each of these values are provided, in the context of our work in Residence Life at Miami University.

This set of values is but one of the foundations of our work in Residence Life, albeit an important one. Each does not stand alone; rather, they are intertwined among each other and the other foundations of our work. Questions or comments about this document can be directed to the Director of Residence Life.

Rokeach, Milton.  The nature of human values. New York: The Free Press, 1973.


It is the desire of the Office of Residence Life to create communities that are celebrative in nature, ones that recognize the achievements of our students and staff. We strive to accentuate the positive attributes our students and staff possess, focusing on strengths and accomplishments. We help plan ceremonies and celebrations that unite others and give students a sense of belonging to the communities in which they live. These affirmations occur publicly and privately, individually and collectively, and in formal and informal ways.


The Office of Residence Life is committed to creating supportive and nurturing living and learning environments that recognize and celebrate each individual’s uniqueness, identities, values, and experiences which one brings to us upon their arrival to campus. Through diversity education and a climate of celebration and acceptance, we help students and staff discover human difference in race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ability, ideology, religion, and national origin. We also strive to help students understand the privileges they have, both earned and inherited, and how these privileges impact their lives and the lives of those around whom they live now and in the future.

Healthy Exploration

The Office of Residence Life encourages students to test their knowledge, to stretch themselves, and to engage with others in ways that may be foreign to their previous experience. However, this healthy exploration must exist in an atmosphere of positive self gain, without self-harm or harm to others. Examples of such exploration include engaging in undergraduate research, getting to know others different from themselves, taking courses that lead to a true liberal education, planning and attending co-curricular events and service activities, and so forth. A focus on healthy exploration leads to extraordinarily engaged students, equipping them to achieve uncommon success.

Integrity and Ethics

Using the ethical standards defined by our professional associations as well as the policies of Miami University, staff in the Office of Residence Life must act with integrity and honesty in our interactions with others. When faced with ethical dilemmas in the course of our work, we must not pretend they don’t exist. Rather, we seek the counsel of others (e.g. supervisor, colleague, mentor) to help provide alternatives/answers to help manage these dilemmas. Intentional acts that abridge this value cannot be tolerated.

Meaningful Partnerships

The Office of Residence Life recognizes that we do not do this work in isolation. We work with a variety of partners in the education of our students. Most prominent in these partnerships is our students themselves. They are in charge of their lives; we are not. However, because of our expertise and experience, we engage our students in dialogue about their lives, and we invite others to do so with us: parents and family members, Living Learning Community stakeholders, faculty and staff on campus, and others within the Oxford and surrounding communities. We understand that willingly and eagerly collaborating with others to help shape the experience of our students leads to more enriching learning environments for all. We also understand that reaching out to others can be risky, particularly when our collaborators may not understand what it is we do. Thus, we have an obligation to our partners to also educate them and listen well to them too.

Respect, Compassion, and Peaceful Relationships

The Office of Residence Life wants to engage others with a desire to understand others’ points of view and respond appropriately. This does not mean we always agree with those points of view. Our value to respect others, have compassion for others, and act in peaceful ways should not be interpreted as an aversion to conflict. Rather, this value dictates the manner that guides our interactions with others and how conflict is resolved. We strive to be peacemakers. We know our students err as they live with us, and we want to be forgiving to the extent that we can, with our orientation to forgiveness tempered by the rights of others to live peaceful lives as well. We strive to not meet anger with anger and open our ears before our mouths. This may be the hardest value for us to live each day, given that we, too, are human and subject to human error just as others are.

Staff Development

Just as the education and development of our students is important, so, too, is the continuing education of all staff in the Office of Residence Life. Thus, staff development opportunities, some required and others optional, exist for staff members to increase their knowledge and skills. These opportunities focus on both interpersonal and intrapersonal growth. Staff members should be fundamentally better employees from the start of an academic year to the end of an academic year, and our focus on intentional staff development opportunities is one way to accomplish this growth. Furthermore, the department recognizes the experience of staff members and validates that experience through peer education opportunities, rehiring processes, and promotion when appropriate and permissible.

Student Learning

The staff of the Office of Residence Life believes that students can learn and change, continuing their growth into more learned citizen leaders. They can and should better understand themselves and others as well as their place in society. Students do not come to us with a set of views that are fully in place upon their arrival to college. Rather, through intentional learning opportunities in both curricular and co-curricular settings, students continue to develop as human beings, intellectually and interpersonally. It is incumbent, therefore, that we continue to learn about students and how we can strategically influence these changes.

Pillars of Success

The Office of Residence Life has five core functions: (1) to provide safe and healthy homes, (2) to assist in increasing persistence and retention, (3) to promote inclusive and diverse communities, (4) to extend the learning environment beyond the classroom, and (5) to ease students' transition to adulthood.

The development and implementation of the Pillars of Success is guided by many philosophical foundations. The foundations include but are not limited to:

  • Miami University Strategic Goals
  • The goals of the Miami Plan for Liberal Education
  • Student Development Theory
  • Office of Residence Life Mission
  • Office of Residence Life Departmental Values
  • Professional Standards and Ethics statements from professional organizations
  • University Mission Statement ("The Engaged University")

Pillars of Success

Pillar 1: Create safe and healthy communities

With all that we would like to accomplish in the residence halls and apartments, we can not lose focus on the fact that they serve first and foremost as a student’s home. Students’ living spaces play an important role in their ability to be successful in their academic endeavors. Students who are living in an environment where their basic needs are not being met, where they have security concerns, or where the environment is noisy or dirty, are likely to be distracted and not assisted by the environment, which can serve as a barrier to their overall academic success.

Pillar 2: Support persistence and retention

The goal of attending college is to gain knowledge, complete course requirements, and graduate with at least one academic credential. Residence Life provides a housing experience which enables students to focus on their pursuit of an academic degree. In addition to providing a space simply to sleep and store items, Residence Life facilitates personal and community development aimed at creating a sense of connection and belonging among the student body.

Pillar 3: Develop diverse and inclusive environments

Many of our students are coming from communities that are homogenous and where they are in the majority population. The homogeneity of the community could be connected to race, ethnicity, religion, ability, political ideology or socio-economic status. Living on campus provides students with one of the few times in their lives that they will be surrounded by others who are approximately the same age and trying to accomplish approximately the same goals. Through both formal and informal experiences, Residence Life has the opportunity to assist students in engaging in conversations and interactions that foster a greater understanding of the world around them.

Pillar 4: Extend the learning environment

Being a student on a residential college campus offers an opportunity for exposure to world renowned scholars, access to live theater, and a meaningful connection with researchers and teachers from a variety of different disciplines. Merely existing on a campus where the aforementioned opportunities exists does not fully capitalize on an integrated living and learning community. Through partnership and innovative collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs, residential communities can be places where students extend their experiences within their classroom to their homes through the experience of specialized academic support, unique access to faculty, as well as living with other students who share common interests or are enrolled in similar courses.

Pillar 5: Facilitate the transition to adulthood

We have the good fortune of becoming a part of students’ lives when they are still formulating who they are and who they want to be. We recognize that though most students are legally adults, they are at the beginning of the stages of adulthood and benefit from instruction and insight from older and more experienced adults. Additionally, we acknowledge that with adulthood comes responsibilities and expectations related to occupational achievement, healthy relationship development, making socially responsible and safe decisions, and managing resources wisely. Through the residential context of campus, Residence Life is uniquely situated to assist students in their transition to adulthood and off campus living.

Strategies for Engagement

We implement the Pillars of Success using what we call strategies. Almost everything we do in the Office of Residence Life is a strategy. Some strategies are led by Resident Assistants, while others are coordinated by Graduate Assistants and full-time staff members.

There are many kinds, types, and categories of strategies:

  • One-on-one / conversation (proactive or reactive, formal or informal, always natural)
  • Program/workshop/event/activity (corridor or community-wide, planned, one-time or series)
  • Community/corridor meeting
  • Passive program (bulletin board, newsletter, email)
  • University/community event (with intentional reflection)
  • Community standards/agreements
  • Spontaneous initiative
  • Social events/simple recreational programs 

Departmental Strategies

In some cases, all staff will use common strategies referred to as departmental strategies. Some departmental strategies are for particular types of communities where appropriate.

RA and Resident One-on-One Conversations

All Resident Assistants will meet one on one with each of their residents several times a year. These one-on-one conversations are meant to build strong rapport with residents while helping residents access resources in an intentional way. 

Corridor/Community Meetings

Resident Assistants use corridor/community meetings to build community, assess and meet community needs, plan community events, and disseminate information. 

Community Agreements and Community Standards

The Community Agreements process is meant to empower residents to make decisions about policies, behavior, and use of space/common property within a corridor or apartment community. Resident Assistants will facilitate these conversations.

Bulletin Boards

Resident Assistants post a new bulletin board every month. 

  • An August bulletin board welcomes and introduces students to the community
  • An April bulletin board outlines hall closing procedures
  • Bulletin boards intentionally address one or more learning outcome from the Pillars of Success

Roommate Agreements

Residents are encouraged to complete and discuss their Roommate Agreement with their roommate. The roommate agreement is an electronic document conducted through students' Housing Portal. If a roommate conflict emerges the Roommate Agreement should be used and, if necessary, revised.

Community Leadership Teams 

All communities have Community Leadership Teams to engage student leaders in various learning outcomes within the Pillars of Success. Resident Assistants assist Professional Staff in recruiting students to participate in this departmental strategy. Community Leadership Teams are charged with three areas: 1) social and community building initiatives, 2) programming related to the Living Learning Community goals, and 3) advocacy for student and university issues and needs.

Living Learning Community Kick-Offs

Living Learning Communities are central to the residential education experience at Miami University. All Living Learning Communities create and implement a LLC kickoff event that introduces residents to the goals for each particular LLC.

Conversations with Students

Professional staff initiate conversations with many students in their community for a variety of reasons. The purposes of these conversations are to express care for the student and the community, share information if necessary, and where appropriate, make a follow-up plan with the student. Reasons professional staff initiate meetings with student include but are not limited to:

  • Regular one-on-one meeting 
  • Proactive conversation with higher-risk student
  • Student-of-concern follow up
  • Academic intervention
  • Conduct follow up


Assessment of the Pillars of Success can occur at the macro level (institutional research, national surveys, etc) or at the micro level (assessment of individual resident or corridor). Possible means of assessment include:

  • Pre-test /post-test
  • Survey
  • Observed, obvious changed behavior
  • Follow-up discussion
  • Analysis of the Miami Assessment of Living and Learning Survey results

Diversity Initiatives

The Office of Residence Life (ORL) values diversity in the residential communities on campus. Following are some ways in which we enact that value.

Staff Training

  • Resident Assistants and professional staff receive at least eight (8) hours of diversity-related training in July and August.
  • Training topics include but are not limited to identity and inclusion at Miami, responding to incidents of intolerance, diversity resources on campus, and OEEO and Title IX.

Living Learning Community and Living Options

  • Several Living Learning Communities are directly connected to diversity and inclusion including Love. Honor. Pride., WiSDEM (Women in Science Disciplines, Engineering and Mathematics), and Community Justice and Wellbeing.
  • Miami offers Gender-Inclusive Housing.


  • One of our pillars of success is to develop diverse and inclusive environments. One way we achieve this pillar is to implement and support diversity-related programs in our communities. 
  • Residence Life staff, LLCs, and Community Leadership Teams offer a variety of in-hall programs such as Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Emerson Hall), Decorating with Diversity (Scott Hall), Shabbat Dinner (Dodds Hall), and Values Exploration (Brandon Hall).

DEI Reps

  • DEI Reps promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the residence halls.  
  • Each Community Leadership Team will select at least one DEI Rep who will meet weekly with all of the DEI Reps
  • DEI Reps
    • Write and email the weekly DEI Moment of the Week to their community listserv.
    • Meet with campus leaders for discussions around a variety of topics. 
    • Plan and implement community building programs for their community

Staff Development

  • Professional staff affinity groups - the opportunity for our staff to self-create support groups based on identity affiliation
  • Reading book groups - Examples of past reading group books includes Blind Spot by Banaji and Greenwald and We Can't Talk About That At Work by Winters. 
  • Regular diversity-related calendar event updates


  • Several questions on the annual Assessment of Living and Learning survey completed by thousands of on-campus students are related to diversity and inclusion. Demographic information about respondents is analyzed to identify trends among underrepresented students.
  • Two annual climate surveys are administered, analyzed and discussed; one to the RAs and one to the professional and central staff in Residence Life.
Warfield Hall
Contact Us

Office of Residence Life

211 Warfield Hall
451 East Spring St.
Oxford, OH 45056