Faces - Jackie Simpson

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Office of Housing and Residence Life is undergoing a construction and renovation boom due to its $450 million master plan. One of those helping to lead this transformational effort is Jackie Simpson.

As associate vice chancellor and director of housing and residence life, Simpson is responsible for all facets of an operation with an annual budget of $28 million.

“From construction to staffing to student discipline to technology needs to room assignments and everything in between, ultimately the buck stops with me,” said Simpson. “Obviously, I don’t do it all; I have an outstanding staff. We serve a 24/7 population. We never close; we always have resident students on campus.”

Housing and residence life staff numbers 131 full-time employees; it is augmented by roughly 150 students each year. Four associate directors manage major operational areas: facilities, technology, residence life and business.

In addition to housing summer school students, housing and residence life offers on-campus residential services for conferences, interns and guests, too.  

Because of its distinctive operation, housing and residence life maintains its facilities operation, which includes carpentry, HVAC, locksmith and a housekeeping staff that received the International Sanitary Supply Association’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard certification for green building standards with honors in 2010. It is the association’s highest level.

“Our goal is to support the academic mission of the University,” Simpson stated. “We staff our buildings with full-time, master’s-level professionals; provide security; and develop programming to support students in accomplishing their academic goals.”

Simpson is a strong advocate for students to reside on campus. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is the only time when young people have the chance to go away from home and live among a diverse population of thousands of others their own age. They’ll have the rest of their lives to live off campus in their homogenous groups. It represents a tremendous prospect for personal growth.”

Another advantage for on-campus housing is the connection it establishes with the institution. Simpson explained that research demonstrated that students who live on campus do better academically and make better grades. Retention rates and persistence toward degree completion is higher, too, because of that connection to campus.

Due to the housing master plan implementation that involves buildings going up and being demolished, the number of students the campus can accommodate is fluctuating, but Simpson expects to welcome around 5,100 this fall. When the master plan is completed in 2017, housing and residence life will support nearly 7,100 students living on campus.

The variety of her work is energizing for Simpson, who joined UNC Charlotte in 1980 after seven years in housing and residence life at Western Illinois University. A native of Missouri, Simpson completed a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in counseling and personnel services from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

In reflecting upon her 32-year tenure on campus, Simpson noted she is proud the housing master plan started on her watch. “I feel blessed to be part of this effort that is forever changing the face of the University and to be part of such a well-oiled machine as housing. It takes a strong team to keep moving forward in a positive direction.”

Away from campus, Simpson is an avid bike rider. She and her rescue dog Lexi often cruise the greenways in the University City area. She also is active with the JAMin ministry, which engages in international mission trips and prison outreach. She spends time visiting family across the United States, especially her 93-year-old mother in Winter Springs, Fla.