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Building the Foundation for a Successful Community – with Rob Olson & Greg Houghton

Opening a brand-new residence hall, on a campus that is not used to serving its students 24/7, is quite an undertaking. How do you manage the expectations of a diverse student population? How do you initiate support services after traditional hours? How do you build the foundation for a successful community—without the luxury of established policies and procedures?

Rob Olson is the Director of Facilities and Capital Projects at Green River College, and Greg Houghton is the Director of Finance and Operations at Northeastern University. But prior to their current roles, both Rob and Greg worked with guest host Tara Wilkinson at COCM. In fact, the trio was part of the pioneering leadership team that established Green River College’s first on-campus student housing program.

Today, Rob and Greg join Tara to reconnect and reflect on their experience as part of the startup leadership team at Green River. They discuss the challenges of opening a brand-new residence hall and fostering a successful community—in a community college setting. Greg explains why he values the diversity of opportunity COCM provided, and Rob describes the supportive feeling of community he experienced working with the Capstone Family. Listen in for insight around the rewards of building something from nothing and learn how their background at Capstone helped Rob and Greg grow into their current roles in higher education.

Topics Covered

  • Rob’s transition from the construction industry to student housing
  • How Greg discovered student affairs as a profession as an RA
  • Rob, Greg and Tara’s experience on the startup team at Green River
  • The leadership team’s challenges in opening a new residence hall
  • The rewards associated with ‘building something out of nothing’
  • How the COCM Team at Green River forged lasting relationships
  • How COCM supported Rob in advancing his career
  • Why Greg values the diversity of experience he gleaned at COCM
  • The significance of building relationships with on-campus partners
  • How to capitalize on the multitude of opportunities in higher ed

Connect with Rob & Greg

Rob on LinkedIn
Greg on LinkedIn

Connect with Tara

Student Housing Matters
Student Housing Matters on Facebook
Student Housing Matters on Twitter
Capstone On-Campus Management
Tara on LinkedIn


Leigh Anne is the Director of Creative and Brand Marketing at COCM. In her role, she supports the development and implementation of the annual corporate marketing plan. She is responsible for overall brand strategy, content marketing, social media, video production, COCM’s website, marketing materials design and production, as well as serving as our liaison for COCM's sponsorships.