As Lawrence launches into the trauma and excitement of housing selection, one woman will be spending more time and energy on perfecting next year’s housing arrangements than most students ever will. Dean of Residential Life Amy Uecke has just entered one of her busiest times of year, but housing selection is only one of the many duties that Uecke performs.Like fellow dean Marti Hemwall, Uecke claims “There is no normal day for me.” Uecke’s major duties are supervising, hiring, and training RHDs, overseeing residential spaces, and working with LUCC and Housing Coordinator Catherine LaBrasca to complete housing selection. Uecke also regularly meets with Residence Life Managers (RLMs), students appointed to supervise large group houses, as well as Physical Plant, custodians, and Campus Security.
Uecke did not originally intend to work in residential life. She earned an undergraduate degree in merchandising from Northern Michigan University, but the most important part of her experience at college was her involvement in student life. “That’s where I caught the bug to work in this field.”
After graduation, Uecke worked with residential life at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. At Carthage College, Uecke earned a masters degree in guidance and counseling while she worked as a hall director, Director of Student Activities, and Director of Residence Life. After six years at Carthage, Uecke applied for her job here at Lawrence, a position she has held for almost seven years.
One of Uecke’s favorite things about Lawrence is the intimate environment. “I really feel like I cannot just be a dean who sits in an office, but I can get out and meet people and know people… You can have an impact and you can create relationships that are more meaningful in a direct way.”
Uecke also enjoys the familiarity between faculty, administrators, and staff that the small liberal arts atmosphere promotes. “I love the fact that I know the custodian that works in Plantz Hall and I also know the president that works in Sampson House. I feel like Lawrence is a welcoming place where relationships are fostered and there are no lines of hierarchy.”
Uecke says that the best and worst moments of her job are “often wrapped up in one scenario.” Helping struggling students is often a challenge. “My job is to be supportive and resourceful and help students discover ways to negotiate college living or living in general. What might be perceived as a bad moment often becomes a good opportunity to be able to help someone through a struggle.”
Uecke’s advice to students is drawn from her own life experience. “Get involved in as many things as you can get involved in. Take advantage of the liberal education you have the opportunity to have and that means liberal education in every facet – it means outside of the classroom, it means inside of the classroom. You never know when you’re going to uncover some hidden talent or some special interest you might have.