HRL director retires after 33 years at WKU

After 33 years Kit Tolbert, the Housing and Residents Life director, will be retiring. “I’ve gotten 33 years in,” Tolbert said, “I’m in a good place to retire and go help my parents if they need it. I’m happy and I’ve really enjoyed my position.”

Monica Kast

A new Housing and Residence Life director has been named following the upcoming retirement of the current director, according to university administration.

Kit Tolbert, who has worked in WKU Housing and Residence Life for 33 years, will retire at the end of January. Tolbert had originally planned to retire last year, but after Brian Kuster became vice president of student affairs, Tolbert agreed to stay for an additional year.

“I’m very happy,” Tolbert said of her time at WKU. “I’ve really enjoyed what I’m doing.”

Tolbert said she began working in Housing and Residence Life 33 years ago as a hall director. She said she was the first female director to work in an all-male residence hall, which she saw as an important policy change at WKU.

“Now, it’s no big deal. We just hire people and put them where we think they fit best and don’t even think about gender anymore,” Tolbert said. “It’s just nice that it’s not an issue anymore.”

Tolbert said she has enjoyed her job, especially as Housing and Residence Life Director, but looks forward to spending more time with her parents, who live in Louisville, after retiring.

Kuster said  the search for a new director began in September, with candidate interviews beginning in November, “knowing that Kit would be retiring in January.”

Mike Reagle, the current associate vice president for student success at Youngstown University in Youngstown, Ohio, will take Tolbert’s place. The position will be renamed to Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Housing and Dining, according to Reagle and Kuster, and dining services will be brought into the housing department.

“It just was such an amazing opportunity at a university that I’ve had great respect for, for a number of years,” Reagle said of his new position.

Before working at Youngstown State, Reagle worked at Eastern Kentucky University for 14 years where he worked in housing, dining and student services. 

Reagle said he was looking forward to meeting and talking with housing and dining services at WKU and getting input from current employees about Housing and Residence Life.

On Jan. 1, part of the dining services came under Housing and Residence Life. Tolbert said  it was a “smooth transition,” and Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president of auxiliary services, had already moved into the Housing and Residence Life wing of Southwest Hall.

“It makes a lot of sense to join those together,” Tolbert said.

Reagle also said he was “excited about combining dining and housing” this semester.

“They’re both a key part of what happens in on-campus life,” Reagle said.

At the administration council meeting last week, Kuster announced  Reagle had been named the new director. Kuster said Reagle would begin on Feb. 13, and he had a background that would assist him in the new position.

“That’ll be some change, but I think again, that will benefit our students to have that closer together,” Kuster said. “I think Mike will come in having a lot of experience working in housing and dining, but also on the student success side.”

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at (270)745-0655 and [email protected].