Stepping into the position of hall director at Taylor is no ordinary task.
The role comes with the responsibility of carrying on a legacy and set of residence life traditions that make each dorm unique.
For new Olson Hall Director Diana Verhagen, the traditions and community that distinguish Olson Hall are quite familiar. Just 14 years ago, Verhagen herself was an Olson resident. To this day, she attends a yearly reunion with former wingmates who have become her close friends.
“The residence life experience can create and foster lifelong friendships, and I look forward to helping facilitate that,” Verhagen said.
Verhagen’s work has mostly been focused on higher education. Most recently, she helped kick-start a new program for the Divinity School at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
She hoped to continue her work in the area of higher education, and while scrolling through Indeed.com looking at various job opportunities, Verhagen instantly felt a strong tug when she spotted the opening for Olson Hall Director.
“I love living in a community, and the blend of work and doing life together was extremely appealing,” Verhagen said.
The Verhagen last name may sound familiar to the Taylor community. This is because her husband, Koert Verhagen, is a professor in the philosophy department. The couple previously lived in Ireland working for Taylor’s study abroad program, then spent five years in Scotland before moving to Upland.
They have two “very wild” sons: Everett, a 4-year-old, and Duncan, a 3-year-old. The family loves spending time together whether that is through being outdoors, reading, drinking coffee or traveling.
“I think the adjustment to living and working in the same space and with two boys running about will certainly look different from my previous office settings,” Verhagen said. “I hope to find a good balance of being available to students, but also present with my family.”
One goal Verhagen has for this year is to encourage cross-wing relationships through facilitating all-hall events. She feels that COVID-19 caused wings to become much more inward-focused and that it is important and valuable for students to establish relationships both on and off their wings.
“We moved to Upland a year and nine months ago, but I haven’t really felt fully connected to the Taylor community,” Verhagen said. “I am really looking forward to being on campus and in relationship with so many staff, faculty and students.”
As a graduate of the Master of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE) program at Taylor, Breuninger and Gerig Hall Director Kimie Kline is no stranger to Taylor’s campus either.
Kline has lived in Grant county for six years. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2020, and from MAHE in 2022.
“Taylor holds a special place in the field of Christian higher education,” Kline said. “It is truly a place that cares for the life of its students. I really do believe that Taylor students are marked with a passion.”
Taylor itself is not the only reason Kline is enthusiastic about her new position. She expresses a deep love and appreciation for students and is excited about the opportunity to add value to the student experience.
Growth is important and admirable to Kline, and she feels optimistic that the hall director position will challenge and change her.
She is also excited about her particular halls that she has the privilege of leading.
Breuninger and Gerig Halls are unique in that they are two separate dorms, but are connected. Kline finds that the uniqueness of these halls creates a special connection and living environment that feels like home to their residents.
“I want us to live into the idea of being better together,” Kline said. “Living life with others is the greatest gift and we only have four years to live in this unique space we call a residence hall.”
This particular position has been a vocational call on her heart for about five years, and Kline feels blessed and grateful to be able to live out that call.
“I hope the Taylor community sees me for my most authentic self, someone who encompasses a deep desire to make others feel welcomed,” Kline said.
Aside from Verhagen and Kline, an additional change to residence life staff includes Aiden Reichard taking on the responsibilities of leading both Campbell and Wolgemuth Halls. Previously, Reichard was solely in charge of Campbell.
Both Verhagen and Kline feel eager and excited to be involved in the lives of so many students. They are ready to pour into the lives of their students and help invoke growth not only in the lives of students, but also in their own lives.