Real house moms of Washburn

Jen Blackburn is the house director of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Along with her duties at the house, she also works for Residential Living.

Moira Brouddus greets me at the door, we sit down at a table facing Washburn, she begins to tell of her new position, originally a catering manager for Washburn, her new job has allowed her to continue to stay involved with the students on campus, Brouddus is the house director for the Alpha Delta fraternity. 

Carolyn Francis recently retired from her position as a Reading Specialist at the Capital City School for special needs children where she was an educator for 28 years, Francis spends her free time regularly attending jazzercise meetings before beginning her other job that she has held for the past 15 years, being the house director of Delta Gamma. 

Jen Blackburn begins her day at the Living Learning Center working at the Residential Office where she involves herself with academic success projects like the “Here to Live Here to Learn Program.” As part of the residential staff, Blackburn tries to introduce students to resources that can be utilized to make the most of their academic journey at Washburn. At the end of the day Blackburn goes back to her house where she manages the day to day tasks of over a dozen young men, Blackburn is the house director of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.  

Each of them found their own reason to become a house director. For Brouddus and Francis, the timing was just right. For others, like Blackburn, it was an interest during her time in college.  

Brouddus found that the best part of her previous job was being around young people. She was approached by alumni of the Alpha Delta Fraternity. 

“Nine years later, here I am,” said Brouddus. 

Francis was in need of a second job, her second child was going off to college and Francis referenced her experience as having an empty nest. 

“I’ve been Greek myself and loved it and I thought it would be fun. I kind of thought it was something I might do for a year or two. Fifteen years later..,” said Francis with a grin. 

Francis was actively involved in her own Greek chapter during her time in college and a member of the Chi Omega sorority of Kansas State University. Prior to directing the Delta Gamma house, Francis was the director for the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority for nine years. 

“When I was in college I was in Greek life and residence life and I knew I wanted to work in student affairs,” said Blackburn.  

Blackburn graduated from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. She is a member of the Theta Nu local sorority, one of six on their campus. She found the job online and is currently serving her first year as house director. 

As with their own reason to accept their current positions, they also vary in their day-to-day duties in their Greek homes. Brouddus makes sure that dinner is catered and set up, and that maintenance is kept in order. 

Francis oversees a lot of the maintenance functions for the house. She gets the laundry and linens done for the rooms, checks on the food, runs to the store, oversees the vendors, conducts health and security inspections and makes sure that the tasks are done in a timely manner. 

This is her first year without having a teaching job on top of taking care of 23 girls. She once worked a 40 hour schedule for the school and then tended to all of the Delta Gamma duties in the evenings.

Now she appreciates the extra time. And uses the time volunteering for the Doorstep, an organization that helps Topekans during crisis situations. 

Blackburn describes herself as a working mom figure for her fraternity men. She wakes up in the morning and goes to her office but then comes back at the end of the day. Blackburn covers the day-to-day tasks of calling for maintenance and letting people in if they are locked out. 

Brouddus enjoys living in a house of fraternity men. She appreciates the similar talks that they can have with about events like March Madness. 

“It’s a full time job and its not a full time job. You know what I mean?” said Brouddus. 

Francis describes her job as a smooth experience. She eats the occasional lunch with the girls and is present at most dinners. 

“I like to get to know their boyfriends and spend time with them. I try to be interested in their activities,” said Francis, this is her sixth year working for these girls.  

Blackburn views her experience as a calm one compared to what the first house director potentially had. She comments on how the first year the men stacked chairs on the front door of the house director.  

“The first year someone is in that position they will do what they can do to defy him,” said Blackburn. 

However, a few weeks into her new position Blackburn had her birthday. She was greeted by the men with flowers, a cake and a card for the “house mom”. 

“I really do feel like they’re all my little brothers,” said Blackburn. 

Unless you actually live at the Phi Delta Theta house, she would prefer the title House Director than House Mom.  

“When you think of someone in my position you think of a house mom which is generally a woman that is retired. Their one job is to work for their sorority or fraternity that they work with,” said Blackburn.