University launches Faculty Fellows program
As an academic institution, the university seeks to “embrace the teacher-scholar ideal and, above all else, student-faculty engagement,” according to a statement on the school’s website. Recent developments have indicated that the university seeks to take the relationship between students and faculty to the next level, beyond the classroom entirely.
Chelsea Tamura/Old Gold & Black
Beginning next semester, the university will launch the Faculty Fellows program in which each freshman residence hall will be assigned three non-residential faculty members. The program is designed for faculty and students to foster more meaningful relationships through interactions within an informal and stress-free setting.
“Many students didn’t feel that they had a solid relationship with a faculty member until they elected a major,” Jennifer Collins, associate provost for academic initiatives, said. The Faculty in the Fellows program would serve as a more immediate and personal source of support for students as opposed to other organizations such as the Office of Academic Advising or the University Counseling Center. Specifically, placing faculty in the freshmen residence halls could help first year students adjust more smoothly to the struggle of assimilating into college life.
“I think if first year students know faculty on a more informal basis and interact with them in numerous ways — recreational, academic, cultural and such — many minor but significant problems that arise can be resolved before they grow into major and significant problems,” Sam Gladding, chair of the counseling department and a prospective Fellow, said. Despite the fact that most students were unaware that the program was going to be introduced next fall, reactions to the news were generally positive.
“I think that this program would definitely make faculty more accessible and easier to get in contact with,” senior Matthew Murphy said.
“I hope that this program will be more like the resident adviser program and less like the academic adviser program,” sophomore Laura Flynn said. Not only could students benefit from the program through a built-in support system, but faculty could as well by learning more about the students.
“The experience will hopefully inform [faculty’s] teaching and make the classroom experience even better for students,” Collins said. The university has also established a programming budget to fund for events including guest speakers in order to further facilitate the interaction between students and faculty. Faculty Fellows will cooperate with RAs to see to the success and involvement of these hall events. Programs that use residence halls to bring students and faculty together have been around for more than a century, and currently schools like Vanderbilt, Yale, Rice and NYU are yielding positive results using this approach. Student concerns centered on whether bringing faculty into the residence halls would intrude on upon student privacy. Although the program will not create a residential college system where faculty live with the students, the administration, led by Provost Rogan Kersh, has been considering at that possibility. “It could happen at some point in the future,” Collins said.