University Puts Professors in Dorms

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

University Puts Professors in Dorms


Byline: Jessie L. Bonner Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho On the west end of the Boise State University campus, professor Michael Humphrey lives on the third floor of a residence hall with his wife, 2-year-old daughter, their Labrador retriever Booba and nearly 30 college students.

Humphrey, a 35-year-old with a doctorate in special education, has lived at the university for the past year as part of a campus housing program created in 2004 to help retain students and enhance their college experience.

The basic premise: If students feel like they belong, theyll be more likely to stick around.

Nationwide, about 200 colleges have developed more than 600 living-learning residential programs in an attempt to further engage students outside the classroom and allow them to live on campus with others who have similar interests. In some cases, faculty and academic advisers have offices in the same residence hall.

But an analysis of these programs in 2007 found only 7 percent in the United States integrate faculty into the living arrangements, said Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, principal investigator for the National Study of Living-Learning Programs at the Center for Student Studies in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"Faculty living alongside students in the residence halls, even in a living-learning context, is not very prevalent," said Inkelas, a professor at the University of Maryland.

In Idaho, on the Boise schools riverside campus, Humphrey is one of five faculty members who live in dorms and oversee the academic and personal well-being of about 125 students between them.

"When I went to school, there was no such thing," said Humphrey, who was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. "Im getting to know students on a level I wouldnt normally."

The professors organize movie nights and camping trips, they give advice on classes and resumes, they get used to knocks on their doors at all hours from students, some of whom are living away from home for the first time.

Humphrey has lent his neighbors cups of sugar condiments are a typical request and introduced them to his parents.

He was home when a student stopped by room 302 and needed help with his tie for a formal event. He knows Michael Roberts, a 25-year-old sociology major who lives down the hall on the third floor, hasnt been feeling well.

"On the other floors, people are just complete strangers," said Roberts, a senior who moved into the residence hall last year. "I think last year, theres maybe a handful of professors who I can remember their first name."

Students in the residential college earn a credit per semester for participating in weekly activities and classroom discussions with their professors. …

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