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.

Foundations of the Pillars of Success

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