Inside Higher Ed has an interesting piece today on the growing number of faculty living in college and university resident halls.
While I was in graduate school, my wife and I lived at a boarding school on Long Island. As a “dorm parent,” my wife was responsible for around thirty or forty teenage girls. We were given a nice three-bedroom apartment at the end of the dorm. It was a great way to go through graduate school, but I am not sure either of us would do it again.
But living in a college dorm? That might be tempting. Yale has been quite successful with their residential colleges and from what I hear they have no problem getting faculty to be “masters.” (I could be wrong about this).
Here is taste:
South Carolina boasts one of the more far-reaching efforts at a public university to inject an intellectual dimension into life outside the classroom. About 1,800 underclassmen, or nearly 40 percent, live in one of 15 “living and learning communities,” Luna said. Each is organized around a theme. Some unify students of similar academic backgrounds — there’s a residential college for transfer students and another for honors students. Others orbit around a major or career goal — for those interested or enrolled in pre-law, pre-med, engineering or music programs. Still others are based on areas of intellectual interest or lifestyle — such as conducting research, sustainability, or health and wellness. And, perhaps most crucially, each has a faculty member living on-site.
Putting faculty members in close and informal proximity with students breaks down the barriers that can inhibit students, particularly early in their college career, from seeking help from professors, say many experts in student affairs. Maximizing the number and quality of interactions between students and faculty members can pay dividends later, they say. “Students will engage with the university and persist and graduate if they have meaningful contact with faculty and staff,” said Luna.
In the broader context of higher education, such living and learning situations are not new. Private colleges have a long history of making use of this arrangement. Harvard and Yale Universities imported the idea from Oxford and Cambridge, and the concept retains support among these institutions. For example, Southern Methodist University is building new or retrofitting old residential facilities so that it can require, by 2014, all its freshmen and sophomores to reside on campus with live-in faculty. “We want to involve faculty in the lives of our students,” said Lori S. White, vice president of student affairs, explaining the rationale.
If colleges and university administrators provided quality housing in the dorm, offered a significant stipend, and defined the faculty’s job description in such a way that allowed them to serve as intellectual and academic mentors only (or predominantly), I think they might be surprised how many faculty would be interested in living with students. I would consider it.
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