SASS plan puts dean next door

After a long day at the office, Jan-Mitchell Sherrill doesn’t face D.C. traffic or the crowded Metro on his way home.

The associate dean of GW’s Community Living and Learning Center leaves his office in Fulbright Hall and heads for Francis Scott Key room 102, where he has lived since December.

As part of the division of Student and Academic Support Services’ reorganization last fall, CLLC introduced a plan to house GW faculty members in University residence halls to create better lines of communication with students.

Sherrill is the first to embark on CLLC’s experimental journey,

forsaking the comforts of home for on-campus life.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “What students tell us again and again is that the essential bond is the one between faculty and students.”

In addition to his duties as a dean of CLLC, Sherrill teaches “The American Experience in Film and Literature” in the University Honors Program. He brought an extensive movie collection to share with his neighbors in FSK.

Sherrill’s visitors so far have been mostly students he already knows, but he said he is optimistic students will take advantage of the opportunity to interact with a faculty member on a personal level, “without having to be evaluated.”

And it appears that the word is out at FSK about the new guy on the first floor.

Liz Roberto, a sophomore who lives on the fifth floor of FSK, said she thinks Sherrill’s presence is a plus for residents, but she said she has not stopped by to visit him yet.

“It’s kind of good because it gives him a better connection with the students,” Roberto said.

But at the program’s inception, Sherrill said he would not police students or monitor their behavior. So far, students say he’s done neither.

“I see him walk in every once in a while, but it’s not like people start quieting down in the hallway or anything,” Roberto said.

“The last residence hall I lived in was at Drew University and I’d hate to tell you how long ago that was. Some of my friends think I’m insane,” Sherrill said.

“It’s noisier than I anticipated, not because my neighbors are noisy, but frankly FSK has got a strange acoustical thing. Even though I live at the end of the hall, I can hear the people coming in the front door,” he said.

But unlike most on-campus residents, Sherrill can leave the building when residence hall life gets to be too much.

“I can still go to my house on weekends if I want to,” he said.

Sherrill said he and his staff currently are looking for candidates to live on campus next year.

“Next year we’re talking about expanding it and putting somebody in Thurston. I’m really looking forward to that,” Sherrill said.

“So far it’s still kind of experimental,” he added. “But nobody’s killed me yet.”

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