Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-14-2023


College and university housing professionals served a role they were generally underprepared for as long-term crisis managers during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted and shifted higher education operating structures on a grand scale, and housing staff were asked to continue operating on-campus housing facilities throughout the ever-changing response to COVID-19. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of housing professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the collective experiences of 21 participants three major threads emerged: comfort in the unknown, a need for connection and community, and relentless resilience. Each of these themes had a positive overtone, but there were difficulties articulated within each, which point to a darker underbelly of the experience that has yet to be reconciled. This study unintentionally highlighted the lack of intentional personal and/or professional processing for housing staff who experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. The shared themes across the experiences indicate a need for the campus housing profession to make time to remember and memorialize this experience, address self-destructive behaviors that occur at all professional levels, and examine the internalized expectations to be the solution to all things. Future areas of research should commit to collecting the experiences of the voices absent from this study to compare findings to provide insight on a broader experience of the pandemic and seek to understand the ways in which the pandemic may have impacted decision making related to departing the profession.


on-campus housing, student housing, crisis management, trauma resilience, COVID-19, hermeneutic phenomenology

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Allison M. Borden

Second Committee Member

Trenia Walker

Third Committee Member

Tyson Marsh

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Crabb