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By Eric Bender

Teaching and Learning

Purdue residence halls -
more than a place to live

Residence halls and academic programming at Purdue are finding synergy in new and creative collaborations.

One catalyst is the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey (formerly the Purdue-Gallup Index), which found that a personal relationship with a mentor — especially a faculty mentor — during college predicts career success for our graduates. One way to develop these important mentoring relationships is within the residence hall environment.

University Residences’ growing academic connection is reflected in Carl Krieger's new position as director of residential education. Krieger came to Purdue in 2015 from Virginia Tech and immediately saw the value of Purdue’s Faculty Fellows program,P which continues to be one of the strongest of its kind in the country. Every floor of every Purdue residence hall has a fellow who dines with students weekly and attends special events. Of the 300 or so mentors, 47 percent are faculty, nearly achieving the program goal of 50 percent.

"It's great to have administrators serving as fellows, but faculty can bring an added dimension to their relationship with students," Krieger said. Applications are accepted throughout the year, but most faculty fellows are selected in June for the fall semester.

Learning communities, Krieger felt, had room to grow. Residence halls now seek out faculty who want to create academic programs in the halls, perhaps partnering across disciplines. The most ambitious of these is the new Data Minea> program, which now includes 20 living learning communities. In its first year, it has 100 members; the goal is 800 — everyone in Hillenbrand Hall.

Fculty have designated space in Hillenbrand for office hours, and students have dedicated study spaces. Mark Daniel Ward, a professor of statistics, who maintains an office there, proposed the concept and oversees the program. He offers a class in the dining court — a welcoming environment — where students across disciplines learn skills and tools for working with data.

Student residents in each learning community are expected to take other data-centric courses across campus as well. The students will work on research that relies on data sets of specific interest to a faculty member or a corporate partner.

Perhaps most significantly, the learning community isn't just for one semester or one year. It is open to students throughout their undergraduate years, Krieger said.

Another residence hall initiative is named after one of Purdue's most famous faculty members and mentors: Amelia Earhart. Just as she mentored Purdue women in Windsor Halls in the past century, three others now are serving as Amelia Earhart faculty in residence.

One of them is T.J. Boisseau, associate professor in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, part of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts. Just as Earhart did, Boisseau lives in Windsor Halls. Her job is to integrate herself into the residential experience there. She works closely with hall clubs and with the resident assistants as they prepare programming.

Meanwhile, Sorin Adam Matei, associate dean for research for the College of Liberal Arts, is a faculty-in-residence at Purdue's Boiler Apartments. His primary programmatic outreach — centered on virtual reality — is with the men at Cary Quad.

The third faculty-in-residence is Purdue graduate Chuck Dietzen. He is the founder of Timmy Global Health and the medical director, pediatric rehabilitation, at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Dietzen lives part time in Third Street Suites and, each fall, he invites Riley patients to campus for the Timmy Takedown mock wrestling matches at the Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Purdue students come to cheer on the patients as the young “wrestlers” become the stars of the show.

The Faculty-in-Residence Program is open to all faculty but requires an initial two-year commitment from the faculty member and her or his department, with the option to renew on a yearly basis.

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