Resident Head Job Description

Few University faculty or staff positions have closer involvement in the lives of College students than the Resident Head in College Housing.  By living in close proximity to students, Resident Heads share in many aspects of students' lives, from the excitement of intellectual discovery and the enthusiasm of new friendships to the loneliness of being away from home and the adjustments that come with learning one's limits.  It is a demanding job, one that requires genuine enjoyment of students, a willingness to relinquish private time, and an acceptance of a semi-public lifestyle for ten-months of the year.  The position, however, is also a deeply rewarding one and an important element in the education students will receive at the University.

        Major Functions of the Resident Head Position

Resident Heads fulfill a wide range of roles in their Houses, working as mentors, counselors, administrators, disciplinarians, activities and governance advisors, and general resource persons.  Effectiveness as a Resident Head is greatly enhanced by knowing each of the students in the House. Resident Heads who know their residents well are in a position to offer support, encouragement, counsel, and help to those students, particularly first-and-second year undergraduates, who might profit from the attention and concern of an interested and informed Resident Head.  Moreover, the Resident Head is expected to eat meals with students in the Dining Commons; spend time with students in the House lounges at night and on weekends; and interact with students in formal and informal settings.  In order to be successful as a Resident Head, it is necessary to enjoy being with students, and to be able to be active in establishing opportunities for interaction in both the Resident Heads' apartment and in the students' rooms and common spaces.

 Resident Heads are not expected to provide direct professional services to students; but it is expected that Resident Heads are aware of students with serious medical, emotional, or behavioral problems in order to make appropriate interventions and referrals. The Resident Head is part of a larger support network for students that includes the professional staff in College Housing, professional counselors and therapists in the Student Counseling Center, and the student's academic advisor in The College. It is expected that Resident Heads will consult with these professional staff in determining what steps taken would be most effective in helping a student. 

 House Councils and Activities

Resident Heads provide leadership to students in creating communities that are supportive of the educational goals of the University. In most Houses, students elect a council of officers who, together with the Resident Heads, plan and carry out activities which will appeal to a broad range of residents.  House activities include programs that are socially, intellectually, and culturally stimulating and exciting. Typical activities in a College House include intramural sports; receptions with faculty guests; study breaks (informal gatherings of the House, usually late at night, for refreshments and conversations), and trips off campus to movies, cultural events, sporting events, or restaurants. Each Resident Head is given a substantial expense fund to cover the costs of entertaining students, and to support the activities of the House. 

 Housing Administration

Resident Heads are responsible for managing room changes and the annual in-House lottery for their respective community.  These processes are supported and overseen by College Housing however, Resident Heads work with the students to administer a fair and transparent housing process.


Students at the University of Chicago are expected to take a great measure of responsibility for regulating their own lives.  As University officials, Resident Heads must see that students' rights are protected and that conditions in the House support the educational goals of the University. To those ends, Resident Heads enforce rules, and when appropriate, impose disciplinary sanctions upon students or refer disciplinary cases to other University administrators. Additionally, Resident Heads are also responsible for their conduct and for abiding by all applicable University policies.

 Staff Supervision

An Assistant Resident Head (two in larger Houses) is also appointed in each College House.  These staff members, known as “RAs”, are typically third-and-four year undergraduate students and assist Resident Heads with their responsibilities. The Resident Head is responsible for establishing the direction and expectations for the RA's accomplishment of his or her duties in the House.  Resident Heads are expected to instruct and direct, but, are also expected to engage a highly collaborative and collegial approach in the supervision of the Assistant Resident Head.

      Time Commitment

Resident Heads are expected to be in their House the majority of evenings and weekends, and to take most of their meals with their residents in the Dining Commons.  Staff members do not have to be in the Houses at all times, but must be present enough to know what is going on, to be available to students, and to be perceived as being available. Staff members are expected to respond to major problems in the community, to maintain order, and to perform routine administrative tasks. Successful staff members take the initiative in keeping in touch with students and in anticipating problems before they become crises.

 Resident Heads must be in residence while classes are in session i.e. Fall, (including Thanksgiving Break), Winter and Spring Quarters.  College Housing recognizes that there will be reason to be away for academic, professional or personal reasons.   Absences, even for a single night, must be approved in advance by the supervising Assistant Director in College Housing. Absences are typically not approved during the first half of the Autumn Quarter and at the beginning and end of each quarter. As part of the absence request process Resident Heads are required to provide a coverage plan for their absence and must find another Resident Head who will serve as the emergency responde

 Resident Heads are not expected to remain in residence during the Winter and Spring interim periods, although they must remain until all students have checked out.  


College Housing does not have a prescribed programming model for the Houses.  Instead, College Housing expects Resident Heads to offer programs based on the needs and wants of their individual communities.  College Housing does work with campus partners to offer a variety of opportunities and resources for Resident Heads to engage with students around pertinent issues such as LGBTQ, race, ethnic, and campus climate.

 Resident Heads are expected as part of their community enrichment to host one study break per week and one each evening during final exams.  In addition to study breaks, Resident Heads convene a House meeting for the entire community every week (typically Sunday evenings), and meet with their respective House council regularly.

 Duty, Staff Meetings and Participation in Resident Masters Events

In all of the residence halls, a rotating duty roster is established which insures that at least one member of the resident staff (Assistant Resident Head or Resident Head) is present in a hall to handle emergencies every night when the halls are open. Staff members in each hall also meet as a group on a regular basis (usually biweekly) to discuss programs, community concerns, and the state of the House in general. In addition to attending individual House events, Resident Heads will be expected to attend events sponsored by the Resident Masters, especially those that occur in the building such as finals week study breaks or special dinners. 

 Eligibility and Qualifications for the Resident Head Position

Resident Heads are individuals or couples who have a primary connection to the University as a faculty member, advanced graduate student, or an exempt university employee. Candidates must be emotionally mature and graduate students should minimally be in their second year of study.  Resident Heads may be either married or University-registered domestic partners, or single. Couples with children are welcome.  Preference will be given to candidates with previous live-in residential life staff experience

 Terms of Appointment

The appointment as Resident Head is an annual appointment with reappointment subject to a satisfactory review each year. It is expected that Resident Heads plan to be in the position a minimum of 2 years. Most candidates remain in the position for 3-5 years. Incumbents seeking to be re-appointed beyond a fifth year will undergo a comprehensive review prior to re-appointment. Re-appointment beyond the fifth year will be made only in cases of extraordinary performance and contribution to College Housing as a whole. Appointments may be terminated at any time if College Housing concludes that such termination is appropriate. 

 Resident Heads must maintain their full-time student, staff, or faculty affiliation with the University throughout their period of employment. Graduate student applicants must have their divisional or professional school Dean of Students certify that they are making satisfactory academic progress in their degree program, that they have no fellowship or financial aid awards that restrict them from employment, and that they have no academic commitments that would interfere with or prevent their employment. This certification will be required for each year that staff members are re-appointed.


Resident Heads are provided with apartments in House where they are assigned.  Apartments can be provided fully furnished, partially furnished, or unfurnished, depending on the needs of the particular Resident Head(s).  Please note that all residence halls are non-smoking, including the RH apartments. Resident Heads can expect to occupy the apartment on a year-round basis if the appointment is renewed for the next academic year. Resident Heads may be asked to re-locate to another apartment in College Housing if construction or renovation projects that occur during the summer so require. Resident Heads whose appointments have ended with the Spring Quarter of a given year, must vacate their apartments by June 30. 

 Each Resident Head apartment contains a University telephone and computing network connection.  Resident Heads must pay for all international long distance charges. Local and domestic calls are covered.

 Resident Heads are also provided with board when the dining halls are in service during the three quarters of the academic year. Resident Heads are expected to eat the majority of lunches and dinners in the residential dining halls with their students.

 Resident Heads also receive an annual stipend which is paid beginning with the last pay period in October through the last pay period in May.  As Resident Heads are required to live in College Housing, and take some, if not all of their meals in the dining halls, the value of the apartment accommodations and required meals is not considered taxable.