Faculty-In-Residence Program Benefits Students, Faculty and Baylor University

October 18, 2017

"Tuesday Tea" with faculty-in-residence Rishi Sriram, who lives with his family among students in Brooks Residential College. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (Oct. 18, 2017) – It began in 2004 when a distinguished engineering professor, Walter Bradley, and his wife, Ann, moved into Texana House to live among students.

Today, Baylor University's faculty-in-residence program is highly competitive, employs 15 faculty throughout campus and serves as a model that brings representatives from numerous universities to campus to learn more.

"The overall program benefits Baylor and our on-campus housing program because it distinguishes Baylor University with a faculty-in-residence program that rivals many elite universities in its size and scope," said Terri L. Garrett, Ed.D., associate director for academic initiatives at Baylor University.

Universities such as Southern Methodist University, University of Oklahoma, University of North Texas, Virginia Tech and MIT have visited Baylor's campus to learn about the faculty-in-residence program.

Faculty members from a variety of academic disciplines serve in nearly all of Baylor's residential communities. These faculty-in-residence are responsible for community involvement, student interaction, cooperation and collaboration with Campus Living and Learning. Faculty-in-residence work with staff and leaders to foster relationships built on learning and spiritual development. These leaders also serve as a resource for students in their academic and personal lives. This is often seen through faculty-in-residence hosting students for dinner, coordinating events and initiating discussions with students.

Faculty, students and other members of the Baylor community have discussed their perceptions of the program and have come to the same conclusion: The benefits of these programs are both assumptive and measurable and extend to students, faculty-in-residence and Baylor University as a whole.

"The willingness of faculty-in-residence to share life with students helps students to see faculty as people with huge hearts for students," Garrett said. "Their willingness to share their homes and dinner tables with students and guests demonstrates a godly hospitality for others."

"A Sense of Family"

When it comes to living on campus, the transition between home and a residential community can be an adjustment for many students. The faculty-in-residence program was developed, in part, to provide students with a familiar adult figure within the walls of their home away from home.

Jennifer Good, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of modern languages and cultures, serves as the residential faculty member in North Russell Hall. She loves to host game nights, dinners with other faculty guests and get-togethers around topics, such as self-advocacy and responsibility, diversity, identity formation, thinking internationally and developing in faith.

"I have seen that the support for students has been enhanced with each year," Good said. "Students have many resources that are available to them in the hall and have lots of people they can reach out to if they are struggling or have questions. The more intentional we are in letting students know that they are loved and that we want them to succeed in classes and also in life, the greater their ability to be transformed and grow into the persons that God has planned for them to become."

Students have found a sense of family with their faculty-in-residence and love engaging with them both in and outside of the classroom.

Brian Elliott, senior lecturer of film and digital media in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife, Sue, are the current faculty-in-residence for Heritage House in the North Village Residential Community. Madelynn Lee, a senior English major, lived in Heritage House her freshman year and now serves as a community leader (CL).

"Brian and Sue are fantastic at connecting with students and getting to know them personally," Lee said. "They host 'Lounge in the Lobby' every Tuesday night with a variety of snacks where they can spend time investing in students' lives. They also invite a few students to dinner most Sunday nights. All in all, our faculty-in-residence do a phenomenal job connecting with students and being involved in residential life."

Nathan Gibbs, a senior economics and supply chain management major, recognizes the importance of the program and faculty-student relationships, even after graduation. Gibbs serves as a CL in University House, located in North Village.

"Coming into any college, students often have a hesitance to approach professors because they seem so busy and important; however, having faculty members live in the residence halls with students can help to show how approachable and helpful professors truly are," Gibbs said. "The ability to connect and form relationships with professors not only helps students feel valued in the Baylor family but also sets them up for success after they leave Baylor."

"Beyond the Classroom"

Rishi Sriram, Ph.D., associate professor of higher education and student affairs in the Baylor School of Education, serves as a faculty steward in Brooks Residential College. He and his wife, Amanda, along with their three children, Ellis, Lilly and Stella, live in a home that adjoins the Brooks College Library. This location allows the Sriram's to host a variety of events such as steward's teas and Sunday night dinners with distinguished guests visiting Baylor.

Rishi Sriram has done extensive research on the value of faculty-in-residence programs and has been published in several scientific journals. Sriram's main focus of research is the benefits of these programs for faculty. Recently, his article "The Influences of Faculty-In-Residence Programs on the Role of the Professoriate" was published in the journal WORK.

"Faculty adamantly presented themselves as beneficiaries from the experience alongside students," Sriram wrote. "These benefits led to the following outcomes: their own development as educators, further understanding of teaching and learning, and a deeper commitment to connecting classroom experiences to life outside the classroom."

Being a faculty-in-residence has benefits for faculty that extend far beyond the classroom, said Robert Creech, Ph.D., professor of Christian ministries at Truett Seminary.

Creech serves as the faculty-in-residence at University House in the North Village Residential Community. Creech has discovered many latent benefits of living on campus as faculty-in-residence, such as access to events, convenience and opportunities to meet new people.

"As a faculty member, living on campus makes the entire experience of 'professoring' a richer one, with a constant access to university programs, lectures, concerts, events, athletics and facilities," Creech said. "I teach graduate students at our seminary, so the faculty-in-residence experience provides me the privilege of engaging the lives of Baylor undergrads, particularly first-year students, in a way that I otherwise would not."

To learn more about the faculty-in-residence program at Baylor University, visit the Campus Living and Learning website.

by Brooke Battersby, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.