Planned renovations of the University’s residence halls and the construction of a new hall will have to continue without the leadership of University Housing Director William Zeller, who left his post Jan. 1.

Vice President of Student Affairs E. Royster Harper said Zeller, who has served as Housing director since 1995, left to pursue new challenges, but did not provide specific details about his departure.

“Bill is pursuing other opportunities at this point in his career,” Harper said. “From a timing perspective, this seemed like the best time to make a change.”

Harper said the Housing department felt its upcoming projects – including renovations to all of the residence halls and the construction of a new hall on North Campus – would progress more smoothly if Zeller stepped down before they began.

“Bill and I agreed that if he is to turn his expertise to other options, it would be best to do so now before we are deep into the next phase of facilities renewal,” Harper said in a memo sent to the University Housing staff.

Zeller said he did not feel comfortable commenting on his departure.

A nationwide search for candidates to replace Zeller will begin within the next few weeks, Harper said, as a diverse pool of people – including current Housing employees – will be considered for the job.

“The challenges facing University residence halls are changing rapidly along with changing expectations for the learning environment, technology, safety and student lifestyles,” she said. “We will be looking for a leader with energy and vision, who can help us transform our residential environment for students over the next several years.”

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said although Housing is currently operating without an interim director, associate Directors Archie Andrews and Mary Hummel are working directly under Harper until a new director is appointed.

For the time being, University Housing has capable senior leaders who will be able to continue moving forward all of the department’s current projects, Harper said.

In the memo, Harper thanked Zeller for his contributions during his eight-year tenure. She credits Zeller and his staff for increasing student satisfaction with University Housing and the subsequent higher return rates of upperclassmen to residence halls.

“He has focused on living-learning initiatives, strengthening the many learning programs within the residence halls and helping to develop new ones,” Harper said. “He has worked to create a supportive climate for staff, and has made many improvements to the quality of student residential life, including the elimination of overflow triples.”

When asked about Zeller’s departure, Andrews said he did not know any of the reasons behind it.

“Through (the Residence Hall Association), and through me working for University Housing, whenever we needed his support, he was always there for us,” RHA Vice President for Public Relations Matthew Hakim said. “He was always ready to help.” Hakim said he did notice that occasionally Zeller would speak ahead of himself, promising certain things before he knew for certain if they were feasible.

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