Let Us Introduce You: Melinda Pullen Carlson

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Head of Res Life talks about family and university facilities

Tony Traina/Managing Editor

Tony Traina/Managing Editor

“She’s a pretty cool kid, much cooler than I ever was,” Melinda Pullen Carlson, SLU’s new Director of Housing and Residence Life said of her daughter, who was just named a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist.

Carlson, who started in her new position at SLU a little over a month ago, left her previous position at the University of Mississippi after six years on the job. She’s spent 20 years working in higher education, 14 of which have been devoted to housing and residence life. Her husband and one daughter have stayed behind in Mississippi so that she can finish her senior year of high school with her friends.

“She probably would have run off with the circus had I told her we were moving,” Carlson said.

Because Carlson’s father was in the Air Force, she moved around throughout her childhood, but calls Mascoutah, Ill., home. She’s excited for what she calls “a little bit of a coming home.”

However, she’s most excited to be at the helm of the Housing and Residence Life department at SLU, hearing the voices and concerns of students.

“It is very important to me that our students have a voice.  I want our students to utilize Hall Councils and RHA (Residence Hall Association).  I will always advocate for our students and ensure their voices are heard,” Carlson said. She says she’s still evaluating the areas that can use the most improvement in Housing and Residence Life. However, she did point to facilities improvement as a project that can be quickly undertaken.

“Evaluating what needs to be added, vacated or renovated is something we need to explore. We appear to lack suite-style housing, so I think we can look into that as well,” she said.

Of course, the Laclede Houses are a hot-button issue on campus, and Carlson said she also looks forward to reviewing the best uses for that property.

“Whatever we do, we want to work with the stakeholders, figuring out what the goals are [of the Laclede Houses] and if we can meet those goals in another way. ,” Carlson said.

Carlson is also well aware of Housing and Residence Life’s vital role in creating a diverse campus.

“We really need to be the model of inclusion, making sure people feel comfortable where they live and are not excluded. I don’t want to see pockets of types of people living together,” Carlson said.

She cited SLU’s room assignment process as something she’d like to evaluate to better foster inclusiveness.

“For example, students from traditionally marginalized groups tend to make their college decision later in the admissions process, which means their options for housing may be fewer. I want to reevaluate the process of accepting rolling applications,’” Carlson said.

When she’s not hard at work in her office in the Village, Carlson says her guilty pleasure is HBO’s The Newsroom.

“Reality television drives me crazy though,” she added.