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Housing's digital revolution

July 10, 2017

By Abdullah Budeir, Intern, Campus Life Communications

Much goes into ensuring that Emory students have a place to live throughout the academic year. Housing Operations, a unit of Campus Life, manages the dynamic process of tracking and updating housing assignments for approximately 4,500 students residing in rooms on campus.

In addition, housing must be assigned and those assignments managed each summer for 60 organizations and 7,000 individual guests. The three-day Special Olympics of Georgia event alone requires nearly all the housing on the university’s main campus.

Over the last few years, new developments in Housing Operations have revolutionized the processes, drastically increasing both speed and efficiency. The driving force behind these changes for Campus Life is Linda Huddleston, manager of assignments for Housing Operations. In 1987 when she first joined Emory and before coming to Housing, she was a member of the team that launched the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life. 

Huddleston

Today, Huddleston oversees a dizzying array of responsibilities. She manages assignments for all main campus housing, including early arrivals, room changes, interim housing, summer housing, and Greek and theme houses, which collectively involve hundreds of incoming requests each year. She also manages the database that tracks sorority and fraternity membership and other Greek life data.

Huddleston views her job as a challenging but rewarding responsibility. “On my first day at Emory, my director told me to “remember that we are here for our students; the students are not here for us,” Huddleston said. “I’ve always remembered that advice, and obviously Housing Operations is an essential part of the service we deliver to our students.”   

When Huddleston first took the job, she managed all her work on Excel spreadsheets. A few years ago, she spearheaded an effort to digitize and automate many of the housing processes to make the workflow more efficient and provide better service to Emory students.

The inspiration to embrace digitization came from a conference the year before, which was hosted by the company that provides Emory's housing software. She learned about new software features and processes that she felt could be implemented at Emory.

Afterward, Huddleston began working with the team responsible for Emory’s Online Pathway to University Students (OPUS) – the registrar’s information system that enables students to view the status of class enrollment, transcripts, fees, and more. Through her partnership with the OPUS team, many of the housing processes were automated, bringing overall processing times down. Huddleston plans to digitize more processes as she continues to assess the results.

Sherry Ebrahimi, director of conference services and housing operations has worked with Huddleston since 2000.

“Linda is a housing and Greek life institution here at Emory,” said Ebrahimi, who emphasized her colleague’s work ethic and care for students. “I am grateful every day for her knowledge of the Greek system and her dedication to her position here at Emory.”

Beyond her work in Campus life, Huddleston speaks passionately about her travels through the western United States, lighting up as she describes the wondrous, starry night skies of Wyoming. She has visited nearly all 50 states, but still dreams of a trip to Alaska to experience the wonders of that frontier.

The storms of housing emails and requests she once received prior to the recent automation process were perhaps the only things in Huddleston’s life more untamed and wild than the remote countryside that she enjoys visiting.

Photo credit: Tina Chang, Campus Life Communications