This fall, EJ Madarasz is joining the Residence Life staff as an assistant director for the Main Street houses. Madarasz completed her undergraduate degree in English literature and philosophy at Swarthmore College, and she recently received her master’s in higher education from the University of Denver where she worked both with residence halls and with the Prevention and Advocacy office. She coordinated the school’s bystander intervention program and worked with the University of Denver’s version of Peer Advocates.
She found Ursinus at the Placement Exchange, a national higher education job conference, when Dean Melissa Sanders Geiss reached out to her due to her background in the liberal arts.
Geiss said, “We actually sought her out. There’s a great software system, you can filter candidates, and there were certain things that we were looking for in our candidates. So we filtered for people who had a background in the liberal arts, which was incredibly important to us.”
Geiss described how Madarasz immediately stood out amongst the candidates. She said, “I remember when she sat down she had like a warmth about her. She was very open. She talked very patiently about student experience and student learning outside of the classroom. She talked about her experience at Swarthmore as being transformative to her life and I knew that those things would translate to her understanding of Ursinus.”
As a former Division III softball player at Swarthmore, Madarasz also filled a gap in the current Residence Life staff.
“I was hoping to find someone who had played Division III athletics,” Geiss explained. “So many of our students are involved in athletics and Reese, Jordan and I– none of us played sports in college. And I always want students to feel as though someone in our office understands their experience.”
Due to her time at Swarthmore College, Madarasz appreciates Ursinus’ small campus and the liberal arts culture. She said, “I really like the liberal arts. I really like Centennial Conference schools. I think [they] do a really good job of balancing academics and like anything else the students want to do, like sports [and] extracurricular stuff.”
However, the close-knit community was what ultimately convinced Madarasz that Ursinus was right for her.
She said, “When I came to campus, every person that I met was like ‘This is why I love Ursinus’ and had very similar feelings about this type of school and I really felt that sense of community and the fact that people took ownership and were excited about being here. I just couldn’t really see any other option because that’s just really exciting to me.”
Madarasz will be working primarily with the Main Street houses, an area that used to be overseen by Reese McKnight.
Geiss explained the reasoning behind the switch saying, “Reimert is unique in a lot of ways compared to places at other institutions. Plenty of institutions have suite-style living, of course, but I think the combination of being a wet campus, having suite-style living, having squatting, which some schools don’t do anymore, that combo can really bring a lot of attention to Reimert. And I think that we serve the Reimert population best when we provide a staff member that knows Ursinus, who understands the policies and procedures, who knows some of our students, who has relationships with organizations and teams. Honestly, it was really clear to us that shifting Reese over to the Reimert area would be the best thing for the student body.”
Madarasz is excited about many aspects of her new position; however, there is one unique aspect of Ursinus that she is particularly excited for.
Said Madarasz, “This is the first school that I’ve ever attended in my life that has a football team. My middle school, my high school, my college, and my grad school did not have a football team. So, I am really excited to go to a football game of a school that I work at or attend ’cause I’ve never cheered for something that I’ve had an allegiance to other than the New York Giants, so that’s pretty exciting to me.”
In addition to working in the Residence Life Office, Madarasz will be organizing programs for upperclass residents. She is planning on having regular trivia nights in the houses and she has already scheduled a New Kids on the Block party for the weekend of Sept. 23. The party will have food and lawn games and it will provide Madarasz with an opportunity to get to know students.
She said, “I’m looking forward to just meeting everybody in the houses.”
Geiss is also looking forward to seeing Madarasz take on the position as she gets to know the students and our campus.
Said Geiss, “I think EJ has already shown that she’s willing to take things on even though she doesn’t have all the answers and even though she might not know everything there is to know about Ursinus. She’s shown a lot of initiative. She’s really excited to get to know our students [and] she has a lot of really good ideas for ways to do that on Main Street.”
Madarasz lives in 944 with her partner, Elyse, and their nineteen pound cat, Puck. She will be visiting the Main Street houses over the next few weeks to meet students and learn more about the Ursinus community.