Today I finished My Freshman Year, a book that recounts anthropology professor Rebekah Nathan’s research project that involved enrolling as a first year undergraduate student and living in a residence hall at her university. Next week I’m moving stuff into the student apartment building at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and on July 1 I’ll start living there. While I won’t be a “student” who disguised her faculty identity like Nathan, I share her initial excitement to live among students again after a long time as a faculty member (15 years in Nathan’s case; 14 years for me). I’ll also be the “Dean in Residence” in the Exploration Living-Learning Community. Over the summer the Dean of Students, the Director of Residence Life, and I will determine my specific role for a sub-group of students who are interested in social science and education careers. My initial thoughts include: eating dinner once a week with these students, organizing a once a month movie night to discuss films with strong social science themes, and taking the students to once a month department open houses so they can explore specific majors in the social sciences and education. I welcome any additional ideas you have, readers!
I should note that I’ll really be the “Dean in Semi-Residence,” as the students will live in a traditional dormitory while I’ll be in the apartment complex next door. I have no qualms about going back to a dorm — my first year of college (1986-1987) and last year of graduate school (1998-1999) were in this type of building — but my wife vetoed that possibility, as she did not want to be running to a bathroom at the end of a hall in the middle of the night during visits. I guess that I would also get tired of that too. Two units in the apartment building are available for visiting faculty, so I’ll be in one of those.
I was the co-creator of a 2012-2013 University of Minnesota Living-Learning Community (LLC), Huntley House. I’ll miss these guys, but maybe I can call on them in the future to start a similar LLC at UW-P? I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Bring on the Exploration LLC students!