University Housing Director Jim Zentmeyer retiring April 1


Elyse Gregory

Soon-to-be-retired University Housing Director Jim Zentmeyer.

Longtime Director of University Housing Jim Zentmeyer is set to retire on April 1, ending his 36-year career in higher education. 

Per OU Director of Media Relations Brian Bierley, Zentmeyer says he’s had a great career, has enjoyed his time with students at Oakland and is now ready to focus more time and energy on his family.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs & Chief Diversity Officer Glenn McIntosh provided the following statement on Zentmeyer’s departure from the university.

I can confirm that Jim Zentmeyer is retiring effective April 1, 2022. He has been an outstanding leader and advocate for students throughout his tenure. His list of accomplishments include oversight of the design and construction of Hillcrest Hall and major infrastructure renovations to Ann V Nicholson Apartments, Vandenberg Hall, Van Wagoner Hall and Hill House. He also instituted an academic support services component throughout campus residence halls. He also provided stellar management for the health and safety of students throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. I have enjoyed working with him throughout the twelve years. A national search will occur to hire a successor.

Zentmeyer began working for OU 12 years ago in Jan. 2010. Prior to coming to OU he worked in some capacity with housing at State University of New York at Albany, West Chester University, Wagner College, University of Illinois at Chicago, Bowling Green State University and Kent State University.

During Zentmeyer’s tenure, residence halls at OU saw considerable expansion with the construction of Oakview (opened 2013) and Hillcrest (opened 2018) halls. Beginning in 2020, he was also tasked with implementing somewhat-controversial measures for the containment of COVID-19 in the residence halls.

In the past year, Zentmeyer became a controversial figure for his involvement in the termination of several student-housing employees involved with the student-activist group Oakland United Student Workers Coalition (OUSWC). 

Last spring OUSWC organized and successfully leveraged the possibility of a large student protest outside of President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz’s presidential housing Sunset Terrace to save university housing jobs. The university acquiesced to the group’s demands and then retaliated against the student organizers by firing them from their housing positions.

In the year since losing their jobs, student organizers report being blacklisted from other employment opportunities on campus. There is a First Amendment lawsuit between the fired OUSWC organizers and the university and Zentmeyer currently unfolding in court.

Last month, Assistant Housing Director Yoel Joa left the university after 10 years. Joa was Zentmeyer’s second in command, and the only other OU housing employee in the room when Zentmeyer fired the OUSWC organizers.

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