Administration and Finance Focus




Don Yackley has been named as the new Executive Director of UH Residential Life & Housing. Yackley has over 18 years of experience in residence life, ranging from resident assistant (RA) to director. Yackley comes to UH from California State University-Monterey Bay, where he served as Director of Student Housing and Residential Life for the past five years.

When asked what attracted him to UH, Yackley replied, �You may think I�m a little kooky, but when I heard about this job at the University of Houston, I felt drawn to apply.�

Yackley went on to explain that he liked the fact that it was a very diverse, urban campus with a mixture of traditional and non-traditional students in a growing campus community with a strong focus on student success and first-year students. He also liked that it was in a wonderful city, the fourth largest in the country, and was 45 minutes from the water. �I feel like I can contribute something positive,� he said.

Yackley�s experiences at several different universities and different ways of doing things have well prepared him for this job. He feels he can take the best pieces from different programs. His first residence life job was as a student when he was a Resident Assistant (RA) at Southern Oregon State University. There, he worked in the International Hall. After he earned his B.S. in Psychology from Southern Oregon State College, he accepted the job of Resident Director and Residence Hall Association (RHA) Advisor at Pacific University. It was during this time period that he decided to make residence life his career, so he went to Oregon State University to earn a M.Ed. in College Student Services Administration while working as a Residence Hall Director and RHA Advisor. After that, he became an Area Coordinator at Central Washington University. One of his duties there was as staff advisor to NRHH (National Residence Hall Honorary).

Yackley�s next stop was as Director of Residence Life at the University of Idaho. �We got to do some pretty great things there including developing some dynamic learning communities,� he stated.

After his time in Idaho, he helped create a new Residence Life program at Portland State University as the Director of Residence Life. Like UH, Portland State University is an urban campus with many non-traditional students. In fact, Portland is one of the Urban 13 universities. (The Urban 13 is a research-sharing group of urban public universities in major metropolitan areas. Originally, there were 13 universities in the group, including the University of Houston, but now the number is around 21). Yackley started to miss working with traditional students, so he accepted a position as Director of Student Housing and Residential Life at California State University-Monterey Bay where he spent five years before coming to UH.

Asked how his first eight days at UH were going, Yackley stated that he had spent most of the time getting to know people and trying to learn how things work. One of his immediate goals is to create stability and structure for the department.

�Eventually we will review everything and ask, �Is this what we should be doing?�,�How is this helping the students be successful?�, and �How can we do this better?�� he said.

He is interested in developing more Learning Community programs and the Faculty-In-Residence Program. He is very excited about the new housing construction projects to be built (Cougar Village-Phase II and the Sophomore Housing on the old Cougar Place site).

To attract students to live on campus, Yackley brought out, �There is good research showing that students who live on campus do better academically. They have higher GPAs, graduate at higher rates and are more satisfied with their college experience. We want to create residential communities to enhance those things. We will provide secure, comfortable, attractive, and affordable housing, but, when we show that students are more successful living on campus, people will want to live with us.�

Yackley also mentioned that he was interested in increasing and enhancing hang out spaces; those places outside of where students sleep or go to class, but go to build relationships and study. �We need to develop those �third� spaces where students live,� he said.

Stylistically, he leads with an ethic of care first. �I try to do the right thing,� Yackley said. �I try to be authentic.�

In his personal life, Yackley loves getting into the gym and is a �big lover of movies.� He named his two dogs Pedro and Summer, after two characters in the movie Napoleon Dynamite. He also has two cats named Charlie and Bear. He lives with Sid, his partner of over eight years.

For more information about Residential Life & Housing, go to the website at