Housing director also avid bicyclist

by Caitlyn Starkey

Alan Jacob, associate director of housing, juggles on-campus housing and still finds time to bike to work.

Jacob commutes to work via bike nearly every day of the year.  He said there are on average less than 10 days a year he does not bike to work.

“I love biking, riding in every form: racing, commuting,” Jacob said.

The habit started at a young age, Jacob said, because biking was a good alternative to waiting for a car ride from mom.

“In middle school all my friends were far away,” Jacob said.

Now the idea of riding to work feels normal. He said it feels good to get to work and have already gotten a mini-workout.

“I feel like a cheater when I get in a car for anything less than 50 miles,” Jacob said.

Jacob graduated from Messiah College with a bachelors degree in psychology. He said it is his “BA in BS.”

But he did not want to head into the field of psychology. Jacob said he had a love for student life.

He was a resident director at Geneva College for five years. The building was similar to McMillan Hall, but larger by about 40 students.

Jacob found out about Whitworth through some of his Geneva co-workers, who were Whitworth alumni. They spoke highly of Whitworth and Spokane, Jacob said.

Now Jacob is the associate director of housing and equates his job to a circus act, body surfing and the game of chess.

First, Jacob said the puzzle of finding housing for students is like a plate-spinning act in a circus. Each plate requires individual attention, but the performer must also pay attention to the other spinning plates and keep them going as well.

Second, the housing office is like body surfing, Jacob said. The rider sees the wave coming and he jumps into the waves, riding the momentum. Yet he cannot crash into the reef; it’s a balancing act between chaos and control.

Third, Jacob said placing a student in on-campus housing is like playing multiple games of chess simultaneously.

Chess pieces are students and boards are dorms. When a piece is placed or moved it affects the rest of the board.

Additionally if a piece is moved from one board to another, it affects both games. Each dorm has its own personality and restrictions.

Jacob said he hopes to be a resource for students, connecting them to various departments and sections of campus.

“In the best sense of the word, I am a middleman,” Jacob said. “I have to take parts of campus and translate it into their language. My goal is to be their one stop shop.”

Though his job may be administratively challenging, Jacob said he finds joy in helping students, he said.

“It’s really a crazy business,” he said. “I get paid for a privilege.”

Contact Caitlyn Starkey at cstarkey14@my.whitworth.edu.

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