This summer, Grand Valley State University welcomed a new director of Housing and Residence Life in the Division of Student Affairs for the first time in 26 years. After seven weeks in his new role, Kyle Boone is settling into his role, has started looking towards the future and is still working on finding a favorite spot for lunch on campus.
After five years as director of Student Housing and Residential Education at Georgia Gwinnett College, Boone said he didn’t expect to begin working in Michigan. He said he came to Grand Valley on the recommendation of his mentor and fell in love with the work environment and the passion of GVSU faculty and staff.
“I fell in love with the fact that nobody leaves,” Boone said. “It meant a lot to me that people love the school, that they want to be here for over 30 years, 20 years, 15 years. I fell in love with that and I thought that my style and my energy, which is what I kind of hang my hat on, would fit really well.”
Boone said that his new role is focused on impacting student experiences at GVSU in a positive way. Boone said that helping others to achieve their purpose and potential is important to him.
“It’s about the students, it’s about the president’s mission and the academic mission of the college,” Boone said. “My energy is channeled into the fact that I know that somebody is going to do good work because of the work that we do.”
Boone said that his typical personal, energetic, “in your face” leadership style is something he has worked hard to adjust to COVID-19 guidelines. Despite social distancing and mask wearing, Boone said he still aims to maintain an honest, collegial and involved leadership style.
“I didn’t know how my leadership was going to look — we’re in a pandemic, right?” Boone said. “ I didn’t know how people would receive my energy or if they could feel it over Zoom. So, that was hard because I am an in your face, hi-five, personal kind of guy and now I can’t do that, so now I’ve got to love on you from a distance and I got to make sure that you know I care beyond my words and beyond my facial expression because I may be wearing a mask.”
Although Boone said that staring a new job in a new state in the midst of a global pandemic has presented unique challenges, his goals for the year are set.
“My main goals are the same, and the things I’m looking forward to are the same,” Boone said. “My goal is to listen to students so I can figure out if we’re going in the right direction or what direction we need to possibly consider.”
Boone said that while there is already much to love about GVSU, he sees room for potential in the campus community. Boone said that this potential is what motivates him to work hard and form relationships with faculty, staff and students.
“I’m motivated when I see that there’s potential,” Boone said “I see it on the campus itself, but I also see the beauty in the long game. I don’t want to change what others did before, I just want to make it better. My hope is that this pandemic will end and then students will flood this campus, but the service doesn’t change. I want to be here when the students get back, I want to smile and say we never left.”
Boone said that above all else, he is grateful for his hard-working team.
“I have an amazing team, from top to bottom,” Boone said. “From the RAs to the Living Center Directors to the Assistant Directors, I have an amazing team. They will get a job done right, and I think that is remarkable. They have welcomed me with open arms, and they have criticized me, which is great. They have told me about the direction they want to go, and they’re trusting me to make the right decisions. You can’t ask for anything better.”