Purdue Profiles: Gerald Krockover

April 12, 2011

Gerald Krockover, professor of earth and atmospheric science education, and his wife, Shari, join students from Owen Hall for a meal at Ford Dining Court. Krockover has participated in Purdue's Faculty Fellow Program for 37 years. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Traveling across the country and world for frequent conferences and meetings doesn't stop Gerald Krockover from having dinner with students at Owen Hall nearly every week. Krockover, professor of earth and atmospheric science education, is part of Purdue's Faculty Fellow Program. Through the program he serves as a mentor and friend to students at residence halls.
For 37 years Krockover and wife Shari have participated in weekly dinners and events with their students. They are there to offer advice or share a story, always willing to take time to be with their residence hall. By being in the program, Krockover not only has the chance to learn about student life, but also is able to build friendships that last a lifetime.

Can you tell me about Faculty Fellows and what it involves?

The Faculty Fellow Program is designed to bridge the gap between academic studies and residential life. The faculty fellows try to have dinner with their floors each week and try to also be involved in some of the floor and hall events that take place. The fellows, during check-in for Boiler Gold Rush, operate a refreshment bar and make root beer floats -- that's always fun.

How long have you been a faculty fellow?

My wife and I have been at Owen 34 years, and we spent three years at Earhart. We move around to different floors. I think it's important to get to know as many of the residents as we can, and we try to accommodate all the faculty fellows with floors they'd like to work with.

Why did you start getting involved with Faculty Fellows?

One of the residents at Earhart was my student, and she invited me to participate. I started there, then the president of Owen Hall was one of my students, and he invited me to come over to Owen Hall, so it worked out well.

What has kept you in it for so many years?

It's great to meet everybody living in the halls and it's a great experience to talk to a variety of students. I meet students from all kinds of different majors. I get the opportunity to develop lifelong friendships.

How many people do you have on your floor?

We have between 42 and 46 students living on our floor in Owen Hall each year.

How does being a fellow benefit you?

I think it helps me see what residential life is like and it helps with respect to developing good communication. My wife and I know we can count on our floor to do all kinds of things. They are a great group. It's really neat to see them when they graduate -- what jobs they end up doing, how they get promoted and move along the path. There are a lot of success stories.

Do you keep in contact with your students after they graduate?

Yes. We just got an email yesterday from a girl that lived on our floor probably six or eight years ago. Now she's teaching in Chicago. We get a lot of Christmas cards, and send out about 200.

How do students benefit from being a part of the program?

They benefit by getting connected and seeing the personal side of professors that you don't get to see in the classroom -- seeing that they are real people too. They also get to hear all our travel stories.

Do you travel a lot?

Yes. Recently my wife and I went to Switzerland for a meeting. We've also recently been to Phoenix, Seattle, Orlando, Italy and Scotland. I do some work with professional development of teachers and do presentations at national and international conferences.

What's your job at Purdue?

I'm a professor of earth and atmospheric science education. I'm a joint appointment between the College of Science and the College of Education.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy games, photography and reading books that are not college books.

Would you encourage other professors to participate in the Faculty Fellow Program?

Definitely. It helps you understand what students are going through as they go through their four years of college as an undergraduate. It helps you relate better to your students that you have in class.

Do you have a favorite memory?

I think one of the most interesting memories is from when we used to do a Halloween party, and a student came dressed with a beautiful beard that he'd made green. Then the next week we saw him with part of the beard still on, then the following week there was a little less. He had used super glue to put the beard on. It took him about a month or so to get all the fur off from that.

We used to do a dinner dance, and one year we were coming back on the Purdue bus and we had about four or five inches of rain. So we had a river going down State Street and the bus had water up to the second step. The Owen Hall and Cary students were jumping into the water and swimming down Stadium; there was so much water.

About the Faculty Fellow Program

The Faculty Fellow Program was established in 1966 under President Frederick L. Hovde and is open to any faculty or staff member. Faculty fellows develop close ties with the students, support students in developing leadership qualities, encourage participation in the Purdue community and serve as a resource of campus information. Participants also act as role models and provide counseling and advice. More information about the University Residences' Faculty Fellow Program is available at www.housing.purdue.edu/facultyfellows. Interested staff and faculty can apply at that Web page.