The Road to Dean: How Working In Residence Life Prepared Lee Wilkerson for Career Success

Garrett Haskins, Staff Writer

Lee Wilkerson, the acting Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life and Housing

Not many people can say they balance the responsibilities of being the Director of Housing and Residence Life, taking the role of Acting Dean of Students, and being a father of four but Averett’s own Lee Wilkerson can. Wilkerson is not new to the Averett family, but his role on campus has significantly changed recently.

When Wilkerson was hired on as the director of housing and residence life in the summer of 2019, he brought with him over 15 years of experience of working in student housing, having worked with the residence life and housing staffs at Lees-McRae College and Lincoln Memorial University.

Wilkerson’s introduction to the student housing field occurred shortly after his graduation from Lees-McRae College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology pre-med. He had other ideas for his career path but settled on student housing and residence life after taking his first residence director position.

“I was originally going to look to be either a pediatrician or family practice doctor,” Wilkerson said. “Then I got a phone call from my director shortly after graduation and he said, ‘Hey would you consider being a residence director,’ and I said yeah. I started in housing and residence life, fell in love with it, and the rest is history.”

Wilkerson went on to earn a master’s in business administration from Lincoln Memorial University. While there, he worked with their housing and residence life program. He came to Averett soon after his departure from Lincoln Memorial University.

Several factors drove Wilkerson to choose Averett as the next step in his career, which included its proximity to Tennessee and the closeness of the Averett family. Although these reasons played a big role in why he chose to work here, the main reason for choosing Averett lies in the Averett community itself.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up on military bases where there is a lot of diversity,” Wilkerson said. “I wanted my children to have that, and the last school I was at didn’t have it.”

At the end of the Fall 2020 semester, Wilkerson was chosen to fill in for the Dean of Students position. The addition of the responsibilities has been a handful, but he believes that his years of experience with housing and residence life have prepared him for the challenge.

“It [working in housing and residence life] really is that kind of piece that touches a lot of other pieces,” Wilkerson said. “I think that all of those pieces together helped me prepare for this.”

Along with the changes in the housing and residence life staff, there were also changes to the way that they interacted with the student body. Bradley Bizzell, a junior and resident assistant, has seen first-hand the changes that have occurred and is pleased with Wilkerson’s handling of the housing and residence life department.

“I feel like residence life has taken on a bigger role here at Averett in the last couple of years,” Bizzell said. “Lee has stepped in and embraced the role of both director of housing and dean of students.”