Around the Quads

Tara Hanna, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Student Life and Executive Director of Residential Life

Eson Chan

You’ve been at Columbia for nearly a decade! And much of that time was in Residential Life. What drew you to the College?

The opportunity to work with high- achieving students. The College’s students are so incredible and passionate — being a small part of their journeys has been amazing and has kept me engaged year in and year out. Residential Life is incredibly dynamic, which is what makes it exciting. We see students at all times of the day, in their homes, during their good times and their not-so-good times. We really get to know students holistically; it’s challenging but fun at the same time.

What’s a typical day for you?

There is no typical day, and I love that! Each day brings new challenges and experiences. Much of my day-to-day involves supporting the Residential Life staff in their work with students — programming, leadership development, crisis response, wellness, behavioral conduct concerns, housing issues and so on.

What’s the best part of your job?

Helping students feel more at home in the Columbia community, whether that be by supporting them through a crisis, or helping them find connections through fraternities, sororities, special interest communities or in their residence halls. It is rewarding to see students develop a sense of belonging.

How has the experience of the pandemic and being remote changed your thinking for the year ahead?

We all have gone through so much during the past year and a half, and many students haven’t been on campus. Moving into this year, Residential Life wants to be intentional about connecting with students to support them as they integrate or reintegrate themselves into the community.

What are you most looking forward to as students are welcomed back to campus?

The ability to see folks in person — meeting students over Zoom is just not the same! Being able to connect in person is so valuable, and I really look forward to getting back to that.

Do you have any advice or encouragement to share with students as they adjust?

My advice to all students would be to remember the many resources that are available to you on campus and to not hesitate to reach out if you need something. I encourage everyone to take it one day at a time and to be patient as you experience the highs and lows that come with any big transition.

What’s one thing about yourself that would surprise readers?

I am a Broadway fanatic and have seen more than 100 shows. I’m very much looking forward to Broadway reopening this fall! If anyone is looking for a new show, I highly recommend Six, which comes back on September 17. It is super fun and upbeat — like being at a concert. Also, great for any history buffs because it centers on the wives of Henry VIII (I majored in history so this really hit the spot!).