Almost every Wheaton student lives on campus. Wheaton students spend their days and nights lounging in suites, hanging out in dorms, or holding events in theme houses. Residence halls are truly at the core of student social life on campus.
However, many Wheaton students have probably not met Associate Director of Residential Life Ed Burnett, an integral figure in shaping Wheaton’s social life.
Burnett, who started working at Wheaton in July of 2011, has always been fond of the atmosphere of a college campus. After graduating from Villanova University where he majored in marketing, Burnett went on to work at Salve Regina University, Roger Williams University and Drexel University before coming to Wheaton. However, he was not always in charge of residential life. Burnett began his collegiate career by working in student activities and event planning.
“It wasn’t so much about actually planning the events that was what I was really enjoying,” Burnett said, “but it was the experience of being on the college campus and working with college students… paying forward, in some ways, the experience that I had.”
The quirky traditions that Wheaton has are what initially drew Burnett to the school. He was particularly intrigued by the annual Head of the Peacock race when he first heard about it. He said of the race, “I was just enamored with that, because it’s such an out-of-the-box type of thing.”
Even when he’s not working, Burnett brings a community-based attitude to Wheaton. He enjoys his time at Wheaton by playing pickup basketball on Tuesdays and Fridays with other faculty and staff, as well as some students. Burnett, who played basketball and street hockey in high school and college, sees his time on the court as an opportunity to form meaningful connections with the Wheaton community. “It’s just so indicative of the type of community that Wheaton has,” he remarked.
However, his job as Associate Director of Residential Life is certainly not all fun and games. Burnett is responsible for solving many problems that may arise concerning residential housing, including theme house applications and general room selection. Burnett’s least favorite part of the job is delivering disappointing news to people. “Unfortunately, sometimes I have to give people bad news. They don’t get the room they want… [or] I have to tell them that the water’s going to be brown for the next couple weeks,” he said.
Burnett currently resides in Rhode Island, the state in which he also grew up. He now lives in Little Compton with his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 1. When Burnett is not on the job, he enjoys watching movies and sports with his family, as well as doing hands-on work around the house such as home improvement and landscaping.
In addition to his family, Burnett also has the distinct pleasure of loving his job. Even through his job’s most high-pressure moments, Burnett recognizes the inspiring power of Wheaton’s close-knit culture.
“Everyone is so dedicated and committed to the community here,” he said. “That’s what makes it enjoyable to come to work.”