Live-in faculty to extend outreach

The University has tightened guidelines for live-in professors this year, calling on them to plan more engaging events for residents.

Professors are partnering with the Center for Student Engagement – the office that oversees house staff – to collaborate with student hall leaders and expand their presence in residence halls, where both professors and house staff members live for free.

The faculty are expected to work closely with the student staff, meeting at least twice monthly to come up with joint progamming for residents.

There is no quota for the number of events faculty in residence must put on each month, Associate Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said, but the guidelines call on professors to communicate regularly with students.

“It definitely is a little more clear for everyone,” Konwerski said. “It has gone from an on-the-fringe program on the side of the academic community to fully integrated into academic culture. It was a little more obscure, but now we want to put it out there and let students know they’re there.”

Nine professors live in residence halls across campus.

Art therapy professor and City Hall resident Elizabeth Warson said she wants to help students through midterms and finals with stress-relieving events like canvas painting.

Tom Geurts, a professor who teaches finance and real estate and lives in 1957 E St., will hold workshops about building a credit score, avoiding debt and renting an apartment.

“Most professors know about much more than just being an academic,” Geurts said.

History and honors professor Theo Christov, who lives in Lafayette Hall, said faculty in residence are also working on a rubric for event-planning, broken up into categories like academic and social events.

“Event planning is very much still within our discretion,” Christov said, adding that a rubric will “make everything even more clear.”

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin, who took the helm of the program this year, hopes to double faculty participation in five years while building student support for the initiative. Eventually, she wants to see a professor in each of the University’s 27 halls.

“Having faculty in residence will increase and facilitate educationally meaningful interactions between faculty and students,” Martin said in an email, adding that the program will have an increasing focus on cultivating “a strong, healthy academic environment.”

The push for more structured programming comes after a leadership change made Provost Steven Lerman the head of student life offices last summer.

For Mark Ralkowski, a philosophy and honors professor living in Somers Hall, even walking down the hall can turn into a lengthy discussion about the trial of Socrates. Later this month, he will host a dinner party and movie night for his residents in the Women’s Leadership Program.

“I’m still brand new,” Ralkowski said. “I can already see all kinds of possibilities of connecting to students outside of the classroom.”

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