Dr. Scott Blackwell serves as the director of Student Housing Administration at The University of Southern Mississippi. Recently, Blackwell took a few moments to reflect on his current responsibilities and outside interests in a question-and-answer format.
Q: What is your hometown and educational background?
A: I was born in Akron, Ohio but my hometown was Jasper, Indiana. I got my undergraduate degree at DePauw University, a liberal arts major with a history emphasis. I did my graduate and doctoral schooling at Texas A&M University.
Q: How long have you worked at Southern Miss and what other positions have you held?
A: I am sneaking up on two years at Southern Miss and came here as director in April of 2011.
Q: How did you become Director of Housing?
A:After graduate school I got my professional start as a full-time hall director at a small school in Michigan – Albion College. I was also the college judicial coordinator there and also an assistant coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams. After work at Albion, I continued to work in higher ed student affairs … student organizational advisement, Greek Life, and then back to college housing administration. I was also a graduate hall director, area coordinator and assistant director before becoming a housing director.
Q: How many people are employed in your department and how many student do you oversee in a semester?
A: We have nearly 300 staff in our department, with almost 80 percent of those staff being undergraduate and graduate students. We currently house 3,300 undergraduate students in the 26 residence halls and sorority houses. Nearly another 150 graduate students and their families also reside on campus in Pine Haven and the Cedarbrook II apartments.
Q: If you weren’t employed in your current position, what else might you be doing and why?
A: If I wasn’t a college housing director, I might be a mail carrier. I believe I would like that … all the walking around town delivering mail to people. People are typically happy to see a mail carrier, even with all those bills. I might even eventually be able to bring the U.S. Postal Service out of debt. I’m a walker – around campus, to and from meetings. Being a mailman would keep me in good shape, keep me in the great outdoors and keep me employed … all good things these days. But I don’t want to do that job right now. I’m happy at USM as director of housing.
Q: What little known fact would people find surprising about you?
A: I am a big Jimmy Buffett fan. His old stuff – “A1A,” “Living and Dying,” “Havana Daydreaming” … classic Buffett. I saw him in concert in Chicago, Cincinnati and Houston. I wanted to ask (former President Martha) Dr. Saunders what he was really like, but I ran out of time.
Q: What’s the best advice you ever received and from whom?
A: If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane from philosopher Buffett. He gives me that same advice every time I listen to “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”
Q: How many times a day does your phone ring?
A: Less than a dozen times a day, but I get many dozen emails each day.