"I loved meeting with the team from Westmont. It was wonderful sharing about the work that we do, and getting to know more about what they do at their institution. Also, they were super fun to hang out with!" - Stephen Rivard, Complex Coordinator, Santa Ynez, El Dorado & Westwinds Apartments
Westmont and UC Santa Barbara first met in Philadelphia last March at The Placement Exchange. Shannon Balram, Westmont’s Director of Residence Life, approached our table to introduce herself. An unlikely meeting place for neighbors 3,000 miles away from home! From there a connection was made and a partnership was born. Residential & Community Living (R&CL) was in the infant stages of developing a residential curriculum program; Westmont Residence Life was about a year into implementing their residential curriculum program.
Residential curriculum is an intentional and focused way of engaging residents in opportunities for learning and growth outside the classroom. R&CL has developed specific goals and learning outcomes that we are implementing in our residential communities. The ways in which we connect with residents, from programs and events to student conduct meetings and 1:1s, is done by design and has a purpose. The curricular model is inherently high-touch and requires that our Lead Staff and RAs are spending more time with residents 1:1 and in smaller groups.
A few months after that initial meeting in Philadelphia, a small delegation from UCSB was headed to Westmont’s campus to visit with their team and talk curriculum. The first meeting was a hit! The conversation was lively and the learning was deep. We had so much in common with our tiny liberal arts, private, Christian school neighbor.
As soon as UCSB got in the car to head back to campus, staff in attendance were eagerly wondering when they could invite their new friends for a visit. Two months later, Westmont was rolling into Lot 23 ready to hit the dining commons and dig back into residential curriculum. Our second meeting involved more than 20 UCSB and Westmont staff members (pictured above). After an hour of lively conversation and good food on the DLG patio we made our way into the afternoon sessions planned for the group.
UCSB was able to share more about the progress with residential curriculum, using some of what we learned from our first meeting with Westmont and offering some new insights for our guests. The discussion was seamless and the questions were insightful. Everyone, it seemed, was eager to learn more about the ins and outs of how residential curriculum was working (or not) in the various communities represented.
The afternoon flew by with a mini campus tour and another session. After several rounds of “thank yous” and “when are we doing this again” contact information was exchanged and hugs were had. Westmont Residence Life and UCSB Residential & Community Living - from just neighbors to dear colleagues and friends... I think we’re off to a great start.
By Pam Scott
UCSB Staff Who Attended: Marian Bankins, Emily Goupil, Jill Hurd, Billy Jankowski, Ishita Kanungo, Brandon Langford, Brianna Neal, Fabi Perez, Stephen Rivard, Kaity Roos, Pam Scott, & Terrie Tran