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Alumnus Erik Hayes is at Home in Campus Residence Life Role

March 21, 2014

Hayes Horizontal Close Up

Helping Hand: Erik Hayes passes along advice to students as associate dean of student affairs. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

     Erik Hayes took a precarious route to attending Rose-Hulman in the fall of 1993. But once he did, the Montana native never left, literally, serving as a confidante, counselor, and ally to thousands of students during the past 14 years as a member of the institute’s residence life staff.

     Originally set to attend Duke University, Hayes heeded his father’s advice and visited Rose-Hulman during a summer flight layover through Indianapolis. He fell in love with the serenity of the campus and its community atmosphere.

     “It just felt like home,” he says.

     After earning bachelor (1997) and master degrees (2000) in mechanical engineering from the institute, Rose-Hulman is truly Hayes’ home as associate dean of student affairs. He lives in campus housing with his wife, Mel, and two children.

     “I adore the campus culture. We have something precious here and I’m glad to be a part of it,” says Hayes. “I love living in a freshman residence hall (Speed Hall) and helping students make the transition from high school to college. It’s an important time in a young person’s life, and the residence life staff is always here to help.”

     As an engineering student, Hayes designed equipment to assist firefighters in their attempts to save forests in his beloved western United States region. He spent many summers throughout college as a firefighter for the U.S. Forestry Service. However, each fall he was eager to be back at Rose-Hulman.

     “I wasn’t as into engineering as I was into helping people become engineers,” he states about the career change. “I feel great that I can help a student at any time and in any situation. They can identify with me, because I was once in their shoes. If a student confides in me that he/she is struggling in thermodynamics class, I can assure them that it’s going to be OK. I once struggled with the same class and same professor. I made it and they can, too.”

     Hayes continues, “We always say ‘nobody does it alone.’ I enjoy being one of those people that plays a role in a student’s quest to walk across the stage at commencement.”

     Those efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Hayes has received the President’s Outstanding Service Award (2007) and Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award (2004).