President Plumb experiences dorm life temporarily while Sienna hall is under renovation.
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
Several weeks have passed since move-in day and for many students this time has been an adjustment period for mingling and meeting new neighbors. Residents in the Lower Townhouses may be surprised to learn that Saint Mary’s President Richard Plumb and his wife Mary are temporarily living in Freitas Hall.
Plumb became the 30th president of Saint Mary’s in July of 2021, and although he is new to Saint Mary’s, he says that his face may be familiar to students and staff.
“I’m at a severe disadvantage. I think everybody on campus knows who I am at this point,” said Plumb. “I walk around campus and they still have those magazines with my face plastered on the cover. And everywhere I go, there they are.”
Despite the “disadvantage” of a minor celebrity status from his front-page photo, Plumb describes the atmosphere of Saint Mary’s as being extremely welcoming. After driving over 30 hours and 2000 miles from St. Paul Minnesota to Moraga, he was immediately invited to a barbeque with the brothers on campus, an act that he says made him feel immediately welcomed into the Saint Mary’s community. Saint Mary’s is smaller than the past universities that he has worked at in the past, which he believes makes it more relational.
“Everyone knows everyone and that's good. And you can tell when somebody is having a good day and you can tell when somebody is having a bad day,” said Plumb. “I like this environment. It's a warm, cozy, comfortable environment here and it feels safe.”
Plumb is getting to know what student life is like first hand by living in an on-campus residence hall, an experience he never had as an undergraduate student.
“It is definitely overrated well at my age, let me rephrase that in my age, when you've had your own house and you're raised your own family, living in a dorm can feel overrated, '' Plumb said. “But Mary and I actually are getting a kick out of it.”
The Plumbs’ stay in Freitas is temporary while their more permanent accommodations in Sienna Hall are under construction. The building is being renovated from its previous purpose as student housing to the residence of the president and space for hosting events.
“My wife, Mary and I are fortunate enough to be the first occupants of the renovated building, but it's not our house, and it will be our home while we're here.”
The private wing for the President will consist of a bedroom, living space, and a “man cave” where Plumb will keep his television and audio system. While these spaces are built, Plumb has been staying in his sparsely decorated room while his belongings are in storage, which he describes as challenging.
“All of our belongings are in storage at the Rheem campus. So I have access to about five polos and three button-down shirts. So one of the reasons that I'm wearing polos all the time is that I don't have my clothes there. They're in storage somewhere.”
Despite the lack of belongings and the noise, “I just wish the guys upstairs were a little more quiet. I swear to god it’s like they’re dancing or something up there.” Plumb says that his time in Freitas hall has given him invaluable insight into student life at Saint Mary’s
“It's just being part of the community and being present. So by us living on campus, we’re able to mingle with students,” said Plumb. “I know who the early risers are and at night time, I get to just walk around, see people, and engage with them. It’s just been so much fun for us and so welcoming. We've been very grateful for the reception we've received.”
Melanie Moyer '22,