For most new house directors, winning over 180 guys isn’t easy, but for Peggy Wilson, all it took was her Ford F‑250.
When Wilson first became house director of Simpson dormitory in 2014, she wasn’t sure how she would handle so many boys in one place.
“At that time, it was before the renovations, so there were 180 guys here,” said Wilson. “I went, ‘180 guys?’ Okay well, this is what God meant for me to be.”
Fortunately, Wilson’s F‑250 made a strong first impression, particularly on the head resident advisor.
“I had a big F‑250, and I parked in the house director spot. My head RA said when he pulled up, ‘I don’t know who the idiot was in the house director’s spot,” Wilson said. “And then he goes, ‘When I found out it’s your truck, I was like, ‘she’s gonna work out.’”
Before coming to Hillsdale, Wilson worked as a social worker in Jonesville for over 16 years until the facility that she worked at shut down in early 2014.
“I lost my job of 16 and a half years and several people from there had come to work at the college in housekeeping,” said Wilson. “I started watching the webpage for the college and the Kappa Kappa Gamma house director came up.”
The deans decided to hire Wilson as house director, but not for a sorority. Fortunately, Wilson said she appreciates getting to work with boys instead of girls as house director.
“I’m much better with guys than I would be with girls because I’m pretty straightforward,” Wilson said. “I don’t mix words. If you’re being stupid, I’ll tell you you’re being stupid. I probably can’t say that to girls as easily.”
Wilson’ experience as a mother of three sons prepared her for the responsibilities of house director.
“I think anything that the guys here would think of doing, my boys did,” Wilson said.
As house director, Wilson has had many fun experiences, especially from the video competitions held during homecoming week. She remembers filming one video after Simpson had won multiple consecutive homecoming weeks.
“I can’t remember what the theme was, but we did one we called ‘The Heist of the Century’,” Wilson said. We used Central Hall, and we run up the stairs all dressed in black. There’s this huge fake diamond on top of the homecoming trophy. We get at the top of the stairs, and the guy that was running the video goes, ‘Ms. Wilson, I have an idea. Instead of taking the diamond, hit the diamond off of the trophy and go ‘This belongs to us’ and pick it up.’ So I flung off the diamond and said ‘This belongs to us,’ and I took the trophy.”
Wilson has a distict philosophy for overseeing the dorm.
“This is my motto: RAs run the dorm, and I just make sure it happens,” Wilson said. “They’re adult men and they need to learn those leadership skills, but sometimes I have to go, ‘Let’s rethink that.’ I am the voice of reason.”
Sophomore Joseph Randolph, one of Simpson’s head RAs for the 2022 – 2023 academic year, said he appreciates how Wilson gives the RAs opportunities to lead.
“I really appreciate that Ms. Wilson delegates a lot, and she really empowers us,” Randolph said. “She gives us the power to experiment with what it means to be men and to have responsibility and what it means to establish rules and uphold them.”
Wilson has fostered the relationship between dorm leadership and new students. She said that what she most appreciates about working as a house director in a small school like Hillsdale is the personal connections.
“It’s that personalness, everybody knows everybody,” Wilson said. “In a bigger school, it’s not that nobody cares, but it’s not the same as here; people are concerned what’s going on. If somebody is not coming out of their room, we can figure out what’s going on and give them the help they need.”
Senior Grant Boyes, a current head RA at Simpson, also highlighted the personal nature of the dorm, something he said Wilson exemplifies.
“She’s good at the ‘Hey, maybe this guy needs a talking to,’” said Boyes. “She understands what it takes to raise college freshmen and has a vision of what that needs to look like for men to be fathers and husbands.”
Wilson said what she loves most about her job is meeting freshmen and watching as they mature into men. She said she’s always impressed with their diligence in studying, volunteer work, and on-campus employment.
“I enjoy being able to meet these wonderful, smart young men and see how hard they work. Not only do most of the guys here have a rigorous classes, but they also are volunteering, and most of them have some kind of job on campus,” Wilson said. “They’re very well-rounded.”
“I get to watch them grow from that freshman year and see the difference in how they’ve grown over those years,” Wilson said. “And I still see the freshman in them.”