The 2022-2023 academic year saw an influx of 11 new hires to serve as rectors for the 32 residence halls on campus.
Rev. Chris Rehagen, C.S.C., director of Residential Life recruitment, hiring and retention, explains that the hiring process can be very cyclical, as the typical tenure spans three to four years, with the hope that rectors remain in the role long enough to see their first undergraduate class graduate. However, that is a variable time frame, with some rectors maintaining their positions for well over a decade.
Rehagen previously served as the rector of O’Neill Family Hall. This year, the hall welcomes Orlando Leon, former teacher and youth minister, to the position. Leon explained that the hall has seen three rectors in three years, a trend he hopes his presence will stabilize.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Leon assures his residents. “There’s a sense that this is where I should be. It’s just my place in time, my place in life. When I got here I didn’t even ask that question (of do I belong here?). It just felt so right.”
Leon, while not a Notre Dame alumnus himself, became familiar with the rector role from his godchild, who introduced Leon to his own rector. “He was the first person he ever introduced me (to),” Leon says.
Personal connections and word of mouth are two of the many ways the rector position is advertised, Rehagen explained. The Office of Residential Life recruits on an ongoing basis, advertising online at rector.nd.edu, as well as through “feeder programs” across the country, such as masters of divinity or theology programs. The recruiting process seeks out individuals who are pastorally minded, practicing Catholics with a masters degree or experience in ministry, residential life, higher education, teaching, social work or counseling. They also must be willing to live in the dorm.
The golden prerequisite to becoming a rector, Rehagen says, is to have a heart for the work. “We see this as being at the center of the university’s mission and really contributing greatly to that,” he says, “so we want rectors who buy into the mission and who just love the work with students and the formation that takes place.