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New ‘res life’ director helped establish student conduct standards

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau

With multiple residence halls opened in the past year and new campus apartments scheduled to open this fall, Matt Hopkins took over as Grand Canyon University’s director of residence life at the busiest time in his department’s history.

The University promoted Hopkins to leader of “Res Life” in December. After overseeing GCU student disciplinary reviews for more than a year, he assumed control of the residence life and housing operations departments — an area of the University scheduled to grow from 21 to 32 employees by August.

Matt Hopkins oversees GCU’s departments of housing and residence life. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Hopkins’ team, which soon will  include two student conduct officers, is tasked with making sure the largest student body in GCU history is safe and secure. A big reason for the spike in staff is the additional need for residential directors and assistants, or RDs and RAs, for the new apartments under construction on the east end of campus.

“As the residential student body grows, we grow as well,” said Hopkins, who two years ago moved to Phoenix and worked briefly at Costco prior to an assignment at Arizona Christian University that quickly led him to GCU.

The 41-year-old native of the Chicago area brings years of youth ministry and mentorship expertise to the residential life director’s position. He earned his Master of Divinity from Moody Bible Institute.

“Our ultimate goal here is to turn (GCU’s Phoenix campus) into a great living and learning community,” Hopkins said. “To keep things in perspective, this is not only people’s home, but they live here for a specific reason — their education.”

Lisa Harman, who joined GCU this fall as a student conduct officer, said Hopkins innovated disciplinary review policies and procedures when he served as the University’s first full-time “judicial officer.” Now, Residential Life has a system that enables the department to hold students accountable for their actions but also to learn from their mistakes.

The University plans to hire a second full-time student conduct officer. But in the meantime, Hopkins said he’s still wearing the “conduct hat” and sharing his vision for making those conduct-review positions more focused on restoration of students than on punishment.

Harman said she already has learned much from Hopkins.

“The way that he approaches (students) is with a real respect,” said Harman, who came to GCU from Scottsdale Bible Church. “No matter what they’ve done, they’re a human being, and he wants to give them an opportunity to make it right.”

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or michael.ferraresi@gcu.edu.

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