This fall, John Brown University hired new Resident Directors for both Walker Hall and Hutcheson Hall: Andrew Lehr and Meredith Baltz.
Potential applicants were interviewed by Director of Resident Life Andre Broquard, former and current resident assistants, representative students and several staff members, including President Pollard.
Lehr and Baltz were chosen out of twenty-eight applicants. Broquard said that he looked for applicants with not only educational and work experience, but also people who would bring “wisdom to the position.” Broquard called both of the new RD’s “good fits to the institution.”
Baltz arrived on campus feeling completely prepared to be a resident director, but that preparation did not come the way she expected.
Baltz became interested in being a resident director after several friends gave her shining desciptions of the position. At the time, she was earning her master’s degree in higher education and student development at Taylor University, along with Lehr and his wife, Maria.
“I really felt called to connect with students on a deeper level,” Baltz said. “I wanted a job I could use as ministry.”
After several interviews and an “excruciating” wait, Baltz was awarded the position in April and began her preparations.
Then, in June, her plans were abruptly halted by a serious car accident.
The accident left Baltz with a broken back and she was bedridden for several weeks. There was no nerve damage, but she is currently wearing a back brace.
The incident was devastating. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come (to the University),” Baltz said. “But the Lord is good and I’ve healed really well.”
Baltz also said that the accident gave her a new perspective on her position as a resident director. “The car accident has been the best preparation,” she explained. “The Lord prepared me in a way I didn’t expect.”
Now, Baltz is enjoying her new job at Hutcheson Hall and is hindered little by her injuries. She expressed special appreciation for her resident assistants.
“It’s been a blessing so far to watch them love this building and love their students,” she said.
Baltz looks forward to further interaction with her “Hutch-hikers,” a new nickname for residents of the dorm formerly known as North, and is eager to continue her ministry among the students.
The University’s community atmosphere made an impression on Lehr when he first came to JBU.
“From the moment I stepped on campus it felt like a good fit,” Lehr said.
As an undergraduate student at Taylor University, Lehr served as a resident assistant for two and a half years. His time there cultivated an interest for higher education. He looked for resident life positions all over the country while earning his master’s degree- applying for as many as he could.
John Brown University stuck out because it was small, Christian and held employment opportunities for his wife, Maria.
“It definitely looked like a place where we wanted to be,” Lehr said.
Lehr came in for the strenuous interview process, but halfway through, tragedy struck. A friend from Taylor University passed away.
Though he was distressed by this news, Lehr continued the interview process, and was surprised when the John Brown University’s community rose up to support him.
“I didn’t even know these people and they were taking care of me and loving me,” he said. When offered the job, he readily accepted.
Lehr is relishing his work in Walker Hall. He said that one of the dangers of being a resident director at some universities is becoming nothing more than a “party planner.” His job here is much more significant than that..
“I love that I’m viewed as an educator,” Lehr said. “I was glad that JBU wanted a res life program that was…more than just administrative tasks.”
As Lehr settles in, he hopes to create a “classroom outside of the classroom” atmosphere in Walker. He looks forward to cultivating and thriving in Walker’s community.