Bazuin selected as first director of residential and student life

Walking into the office of Doug Bazuin, newly tapped as the director of residential and student life, it quickly becomes clear that he is not lukewarm in his love of “The Simpsons.”

Human-size cutouts of the family dominate one side of the office, while boxes of yet-unpacked dolls clutter the rest of the room. According to Bazuin, who grew up living on a dairy farm in a religious family, he has been enraptured by the show’s humor and religious connotations since its pilot in 1989.

His office’s colorful decorations make an easy topic for conversation with visitors, something Bazuin said he hopes to take advantage of as he gets acclimated to his new environment at Williams.

“I’ve been lucky here so far. There hasn’t been a sense of needing to get in and hit the ground running,” Bazuin said. “It’s been more about coming in and getting a sense of the community and interacting with people.”

As the first person to serve in the newly created position of director of residential and student life, Bazuin will have responsibility for supervising the College’s year-old Community Life Coordinator (CLC) and House Coordinator (HC) programs, overseeing the Activities Office and helping the Dean’s Office with its student life responsibilities.

Bazuin began his career in residential life administration working as a graduate assistant at the Beaver Campus of Penn State University while pursuing a master’s degree in higher education administration from Geneva College.

Upon completing his degree, Bazuin returned to his undergraduate alma mater, Hope College. Following a two-year stint at Hope, he moved on to Kenyon College before heading to Union College, his final stop before coming to Williams.

At Union, Bazuin answered directly to Tom McEvoy, former director of housing at Williams. In his time at Williams, McEvoy was highly involved in some of the residential life changes the CUL has worked on implementing.

“Tom was a very good mentor and a good friend,” Bazuin said. “Within a couple of days [of the Williams job opening being advertised], Tom had e-mailed both myself and a colleague and said ‘I don’t want to see you go, but from a professional development standpoint, this is a great opportunity’”

Jean Thorndike, director of campus safety, who had spent much of the last two years working with student leaders and All Campus Entertainment (ACE) on issues of student life, was also a candidate for the position.

Thorndike said she was excited to work with Bazuin and would stay involved in residential life as it is inherently connected to campus safety, though she did acknowledge applying for the position.

“I’d been doing the job and covering the position for two years along with other administrators,” she said. “We were very involved with students in developing the residential life program and I didn’t want to regret not applying.”

Dean Roseman described the choice between the candidates as a “win-win” situation, but said that residential life is a particular kind of expertise which Bazuin had more professional background in.

“In no way, shape or form is it that Jean couldn’t have done the job,” Roseman said. “We wanted to set up a residential life program that would be around for a few decades, if not centuries. Jean and I as well as Norma Lopez and the CUL [Committee on Undergraduate Life] hatched the beginning of a program and I wanted to bring in a set of fresh eyes.”

According to Bazuin, he and Thorndike have become “fast friends” and he looks forward to working closely with her. Both Bazuin and Roseman praised the job Thorndike has done as director of campus safety.

“How many other directors of campus safety have plaques on their wall from students thanking them?” Roseman said.

The role of director of residential and student life is not one that aims to restrict or prohibit students from taking an active role in life at the College, according to Bazuin. Indeed, he said one of College’s strengths is that it has student staff members, like HCs, who do not have the disciplinary responsibilities they would at other colleges.

“The level of student autonomy and influence is greatest at Williams of all the schools I’ve worked at. It’s very apparent that this is the place where students have the most say,” Bazuin said.

This aspect of Williams is something Bazuin said he has no interest in changing. He has already met with various student leaders to hear what they have to say about life at the College.

“I am really excited to have Doug on campus and to have a professional whose only job is student life,” said Drew Newman ’04, president of ACE. “Every time you bring in more people, you get more perspectives, which is really exciting.”

For his part, Bazuin hopes more students “[won’t] be afraid of Hopkins Hall.” “The door is open. I have candy.”