Rachel Smiley joined the Lipscomb community this summer, not only as the new Housing Coordinator (succeeding Andrea Breland), but also as the Director of Student Services, a newly created role designed to assist students.
Smiley’s office, as well as Louis Nelms’ office, is being moved to the newly renovated Student Services Center in what used to be Zebi’s Lounge.
“Instead of you all having to go around campus to financial aid, to business, to athletics, you come straight to me, and I’m the liaison now between all departments,” Smiley said. “So when students have questions, I’m able to help them instead of them having to run to all the departments.”
Smiley has a degree in criminal justice, psychology and sociology and is a full-time real estate agent. Her two children attend Lipscomb Academy, and she previously substitute taught there before getting her job at the university.
“I love the environment, and I love that it’s a Christian organization, and I can bring my faith on-campus without being shunned or ridiculed,” Smiley said. “Everybody has been very helpful, very gracious and very forgiving.”
Smiley’s role extends beyond the traditional aspects of the job, and she noted that she hopes to build relationships with the students.
“I accepted this position knowing what my role was but not knowing how to do that, so I was able to create what that looked like,” Smiley said. “My highest expectation is making sure the students are taken care of.”
After working within the Student Life and Housing departments, Smiley said she noticed a lack of trust between the different departments, especially the admissions department.
“I had to gain the trust of the departments around me,” Smiley said. “My main role is to make sure you have housing, but on top of that, it’s to make sure you are happy where you are assigned.”
Smiley also wants commuter students to feel like they are a part of campus and can seek her out for help as well. The new commuters lounge will be located next to Smiley’s office in Zebi’s Lounge.
“We want commuters to know that they have a place to come that is theirs,” Smiley said. “We are hoping they will feel plugged in. Just because you don’t live on campus doesn’t mean you don’t have a place to go.”
Smiley said she wants students to feel like they can come to her office for questions regarding more than just housing because she loves working with students, and she can’t wait to see how her new role will benefit students in the coming school year.
“I have made it one of my top priorities to make sure all students get a response,” Smiley said, “and that they know they are being heard and to know that if I can’t take care of it right then, to know that I am working on it.”