What if Your Professor Lived in Your Dorm?

Part of the excitement for students moving into college dorms is getting to see who their new neighbors are. At Clemson University, students might have been surprised at the beginning of the current school year to find out that some of their residence hall neighbors included three of the school's professors.

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By Jessica Lyons

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Faculty in Residence Program

In an August 2011 press release, Clemson University explained that, through its Faculty in Residence program, three of its faculty members would be living in the residence halls alongside its resident students. This year's faculty participants are philosophy professor Christopher Grau, Spanish lecturer Tamara Mitchell and history/computer science professor Vernon Burton. Each will live on campus for two years as part of efforts to increase student engagement outside of the classroom while providing mentoring opportunities. The faculty members will also be a part of program planning.

Other Schools Offer Similar Programs

Clemson University points out that programs such as Faculty in Residence were once more common on college campuses and have recently been making a comeback. For instance, the State University of New York's College at Brockport also has a faculty in residence program where professors live in on-campus apartments in the residence halls. There, they serve as a 'liaison between faculty and students while encouraging the intellectual stimulation and academic investment of residential students,' according to the school's website. As another example, when the University of Colorado at Boulder opened a new residence hall in September of 2009, it included an apartment for a professor to live in the hall as well.

Why Have Professors and Students Live Together?

An Education Advisory Board study cited by Clemson University found that there are a couple ways that students benefit from having educators living in their buildings, including helping them feel more comfortable with approaching their professors. Instead of educators being viewed as individuals who just stand up in front of students and give them grades, when students live with professors they can start to see them as real people. By developing a more personal connection, students could start to see their professors as approachable people who they can talk to.

Another finding of the study was that the residence hall interactions with faculty members could even help students feel increasingly at ease with being in college. It can be intimidating to get adjusted to college life but having a professor as a calming and knowledgeable influence who can help guide you even in your living environment could significantly contribute to college success.

Additionally, the study noted that the faculty members can also enjoy positive results from the living situation by getting to learn more about student life. By improving their understanding of their students, these professors might be able to develop more effective ways of reaching and teaching their students.

Although it may seem strange at first for students to be living next door to their professors, the benefits could certainly make it a worthwhile program. As higher education institutions continue to look for ways to improve the learning experiences of their students, more faculty in residence programs could be seen in the future.

Resident assistants also play an important role in campus living situations. Do you have what it takes to be an RA?

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