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Boykin honored as residence life professional

Deb Boykin, director of residence life at the College, received the Herstory Award from the Association of College and University Housing Officers—International (ACUO-I) this summer. The award recognizes an outstanding woman professional who has served the housing field through contributions to the advancement of women in the profession, significant contributions to the goals of the organization and dedication to the housing profession.

Boykin (’76, ’82), who has served at her alma mater for more than 26 years, was named director of her department in 1993. Her dedication to the welfare of students at William and Mary is based on the philosophy of self-determination that she says has “been on the books” since the early 1970s.

“What that philosophy basically says is that students will be treated as adults, and they can come and go as they please,” she said. “They decide if they want to have guests; they decide when their quiet hours are; they decide where to use their programming money; they decide whether or not they want their kitchens messy or clean.” She credits the College’s resident assistants (RAs) with being on the "frontlines” to ensure that students are provided opportunities to form communities and to enjoy their freedoms without the potential pitfalls.

"A campus like this is a residential campus. We pride ourselves that 75 percent of undergraduates live on campus. We value that. It is our job to make sure they succeed,” she said.

"To succeed, students need a place where they feel safe and secure, and where they can study. We know that what they value is the interaction with each other; something they can’t get when living in a garage apartment somewhere off-campus. They want that kind of scholarly community.”

Being the mother of two college students—Corey at James Madison University and Brady at the University of South Carolina—has helped her deal with a recent phenomenon in residential life. “This is a generation of parents that is much more involved in their students’ lives,” she said. That involvement begins in elementary school and extends through high school. Some parents seek to extend it to college, the very place where their children need to be exercising increased independence, she said.

Boykin said that at first she was concerned about the award and its designation for women. However, once she found that the qualifications were in no way less than it was for other awards presented by the ACUO-I, she was honored by it. She has served the organization as a leader on state, regional and the national level during her professional career.

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