Fostering Engagement and Community between Students and Faculty
If you’ve ever had lunch at the Carrillo Dining Commons, you might’ve observed Professor Amit Ahuja and his dog Tashi enjoying a meal with students. Professor Ahuja is one of UCSB’s Faculty in Residence (FiR), and has been in this role since 2010. Up until recently, he was the sole faculty member in this unique position, but has been joined by Professor Eric Campbell in 2017 and Professors Anne Charity-Hudley and Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval in 2018. Together, these full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members provide invaluable service to our students through engagement outside of the classroom. Each live amongst students in university housing and are able to interact with students in both formal and informal settings.
The additional Faculty in Residence allow the program to reach more students – particularly those living in UCSB apartments and Santa Catalina Residence Hall; Dr. Campbell serves San Joaquin and Sierra Madre Villages residents, Dr. Charity-Hudley serves Santa Catalina South Tower residents, and Dr. Armbruster-Sandoval serves Santa Catalina North Tower residents. “A typical day as Faculty in Residence may involve open office hours in public study spaces where I meet with students to discuss academics, provide information about university programs or resources, or just chat about whatever is on their minds,” says Dr. Campbell.
Each FiR works about 10 hours a week to meet three core outcomes: community engagement, programming, and departmental initiatives. Working closely with Residential & Community Living (R&CL) staff, they attend Resident Assistant (RA) programs, collaborate on R&CL projects such as UCSB’s Open House (previously known as Spring Insight), meet with building staff, and facilitate opportunities to engage with students, such as holding public office hours and sharing meals with students. Says Professor Ahuja, “With the help of RAs, I am in the process of setting up a book club to discuss this year’s UCSB Reads selection [and] I have a de-stressing event coming up in my apartment later this month at the peak of midterm season.” These are just a few examples of the many events held each quarter; others include events on self-care, pool parties, open houses, undergraduate research workshops, and more!
Events are publicized through flyers, social media, DigiKnow and word-of-mouth thanks to the help of Resident Assistants, Resident Directors, Complex Coordinators, and other R&CL staff. It’s a great opportunity to build relationships with live-in staff, since their goals are aligned when it comes to fostering intellectual engagement and curiosity, academic success, developing a diverse and inclusive community, and meaningful interactions amongst those living in the community.
Events like these really give students the invaluable opportunity to interact with faculty outside the classroom and get to know UCSB faculty on a deeper level. The impact of this is evident to the FiR as well. “I was inspired to take on this role because of the tremendous role that Faculty in Residence had on me when I was an undergraduate. It was the informal interactions – seeing them in the dining hall and stopping by to chat in the evenings that had the greatest impact,” says Dr. Charity-Hudley. It’s evident that the experience is just as beneficial for the faculty as for the students, as living in student housing provides energy, curiosity, and liveliness; the warm welcome and friendly neighbors have made living in student housing a pleasure to all FiR. Thank you to R&CL for your work in facilitating the Faculty in Residence Program!
By Becky Hoffman