Missouri State University-West Plains has become very familiar territory for Douglas Cooley II. That’s one of the reasons the former student feels he will be able to relate to current students living in the campus’ residence halls.
The Plato native has been hired as the campus’ new director of residence life. He began his duties June 1.
“I like to think I bring a sense of relatability to the position. I started here as a freshman myself and have lived in both of our housing facilities. I know what it’s like to move away from your family and live somewhere in which you have no connections or friends,” he explained.
Cooley has spent the past four years at Missouri State-West Plains. He completed his Associate of Science in Agriculture and the Associate of Arts in General Studies degrees in 2019.
Along the way, he worked in a variety of positions as a student, including as an IT assistant at the help desk in the Lybyer Technology Center computer lab, as a student assistant in the office of student life and development, and as the residence life assistant manager.
He also stayed active in campus activities, serving as chief of staff and president of the Student Government Association; president of the Agriculture Club; intern and vice president of outreach and spiritual growth at Christian Campus House; Student Ambassador; Executive Budget Committee student member; parliamentarian of the Missouri Professional Agricultural Students; and as resident assistant in the Grizzly House.
“I have several years of experience in our residence life department that I feel will be very beneficial to the position,” Cooley said, pointing out he began working as a resident assistant his second semester on campus.
“I also believe I bring strong interpersonal skills,” he added. “If you know me, I love to talk. I consider myself an optimistic optimist. In other words, I’m the typical glass-is-half-full kind of guy, all the time! No matter what you may be going through, there is always a reason to smile, and I enjoy helping people find that smile.”
Making a positive impact on residents’ experience
Living on campus is an important component to the full college experience, and Cooley wants to make that experience a positive and safe one for Missouri State-West Plains students.
“I plan to ensure the best possible experience by bringing the residents what they want,” he said. “We are here to serve them and meet them where they are and to help them grow as leaders and as students. We in residence life will do everything we can to make sure that everyone always has something fun to do, and that they always feel welcomed.”
Part of that comes from creating a family atmosphere, Cooley said.
“When you live on campus, not only will you make new memories each and every day, but you truly do become part of a family,” he explained. “For most residents, living on campus is their first taste of freedom, and it’s a very safe and smart way to do so. I say this because you are able to still experience the freedom of life while still coming home each day to a safe place that is full of people who are excited to see you.
“You also truly make life-long friendships with people you meet while living on campus. Overall, it is extremely beneficial and definitely an experience you’ll never forget,” he added.
Plans in motion for coming year
Already, Cooley is beginning to plan activities for the upcoming year for those living in the residence halls.
“I want students to walk in these doors in August and be excited about all we have planned for them. One of my goals is to try to have some kind of program planned for our residents every week. Not only will this help making living on campus more fun, but it will really help solidify relationships amongst our residents,” he said.
Part of the planning includes putting proper protocols in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes will be made to address social distancing requirements in the rooms and as part of all of the activities planned, Cooley said.
Even so, these changes will not take away from the overall experience of living on campus.
“I consider a successful residence life experience one in which the residents thrive socially, and most importantly, academically,” Cooley said. “We want to see every student who walks in our doors in August to walk down the line and receive their degree at graduation.
“No one wants these students to fail, and especially not me,” he added. “I want to make sure that every resident knows that, when they come home after class, they can relax, study, hang out with friends, and can leave their stresses and struggles at the door. I also want the residents to know they have an extremely supportive staff in our department who are ready to assist them with whatever they may need.”
For more information about housing at Missouri State-West Plains, call 417-256-1870, email WPResHall@MissouriState.edu or visit the housing website.