SMU Faculty in Residence

As live-in faculty members in SMU’s Residential Commons, Faculty in Residence (FiRs) serve as the intellectual leaders of their commons. The FiR program creates opportunities for students to know faculty members outside of the classroom and emphasizes a culture of mentorship, intellectual discourse and community.

The student Residential Commons Leadership Corps also is blogging at http://blog.smu.edu/studentadventures/category/smu-residential-commons-leadership-corps/

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“…And YOU get housing, and YOU get housing, and YOU get housing…”

An update from Dr. Mark Kerins, Faculty in Residence (FiR) for the Morrison-McGinnis Residential Community:

Big exciting news for MoMac this week (as posted earlier via Twitter@MoMacRC): our fabulous acting RCD Liz Rader decided she WILL be joining us as the full-time MoMac RCD! Our RCLC team and I were ecstatic, and anyone who’s going to be living in MoMac next year should be, too – she’s fantastic!

Liz for Board

RCD Liz Rader

The backstory behind this transition – the fact that we had an “acting” RCD in the first place – highlights the behind-the-scenes challenge of the transition from SMU’s current residential setup to the Residential Commons model that will all be in iplace in the fall. One of the biggest challenges for all of us in getting ready for the RC model has been that in addition to all the obvious challenges of the transition (building new buildings and remodeling old, determining identities for the various RCs, putting together leadership teams, getting buy-in from current students who already have experience with the current model) there are some logistical issues with the transition process.

For instance, in this particular case, the challenge is that SMU is adding several new buildings, and will have ELEVEN RCs opening in the fall. The problem this creates, of course, is that we don’t have that many now, meaning there aren’t enough current RCDs (Residential Community Directors, i.e., the SMU equivalent of “hall directors” for old folks like me) for all the RCs that will be in place next year. Not a big problem, you think, we’ll just hire some more for next year, right? Well, that’s exactly what they’re doing – except that the hiring season for Res Life is in the spring, and we’ve been doing necessary planning for each RC since last fall. So while we’re going through the interview and hiring process now, it’s way too late in the game to have waited to do planning until this new batch of RCDs is hired. This meant that various current RLSH (Residential Life and Student Housing, I think? Everyone just always says “relish”) staff stepped in last fall to fill in the gaps as “acting RCDs” to help with the planning process for those RCs that did not yet have an RCD assigned. So Liz, who in her day job does a whole bunch of other stuff within RLSH, has been working with the MoMac team in the role of RCD, even though it was never a given that she would leave her current job to be an RCD.

Much to all of our joy, this week, we found out she had decided to take on that role, meaning our MoMac leadership team will continue unabated. That leadership team, by the way, now includes several new student additions since the last blog post now that the peer advisors have been named. So a big MoMac welcome to Jessica Mitchell (Peer Dialogue Leader), Noah Earland (Peer Health Educator), Meg Mochel (Peers for Academic Enhancement), and Courtney Kent (Peer Academic Leader). With the peer advisors, RAs, RCLC members, Liz, and myself now all locked in for next year, our leadership team is a lot clearer than it was just a few weeks ago (when it was me and the RCLC team, with no one else set in stone) and mostly set. Next addition will be upper-class Community Council elections next month!

ANYHOW, for us MoMacers, finding out Liz was staying on was the big news of the week, but the other significant happening this week, which affected all the RCs, was the Housing Selection event. This happened Monday and Tuesday, when everyone living on campus next year was supposed to come to McFarlin Auditorium and sign up for an RC. This proved to be a phenomenally inefficient event, with each of the RCs staffing a table for about 12 hours total while students came by occasionally to sign up or get information about a particular RC.

One curious finding: as a group SMU women seem much more concerned with where they live than SMU men – every RC had a certain number of spots designed for males and a certain number for females, and pretty much across the board the women’s spots filled first, while many of the men’s slots were still unfilled even at the close of the two-day event (meaning, as I understand it, that a lot of men chose not to show up and are going to be randomly assigned to RCs). In MoMac, for instance, we had a dozen women signed up before our first man, and when our women’s slots were filled (meaning we could not sign up anymore) we still had over half our men’s slots left. Not sure what to make of that, but it was intriguing to see the same dynamic playing out for every RC – and just looking around the room at just about any given point in the event it was clear that there were far more women going through the process than men.

Liz ran our sign-up much of the time, with the rest of us stopping by to cover times or just say hi as we had the chance. Ben and Rory came by to help recruit a bit toward the end of the day on Monday, but not sure how effective it was, as the “Look! Babies!” appeal seemed to be less effective on the males, but we had already filled all our female slots by that point. Nevertheless, those on the MoMac team who hadn’t already met them got a kick out of doing so, and they enjoyed sharing some quesadillas with Liz

liz w kids

By the way, you can see their MoMac lanyards, which were a bit of swag to welcome students – as each student signed up for a particular RC, he/she received a lanyard with that RC printed on it. Kind of a nice gesture, I thought, and the lanyards are pretty nice. My kids quickly decided they wanted more of these so wandered around stealing them from every other table. Luckily I got most of them back to the right people by the end of the day (though they snuck a few Loyd ones out that I had to return Tuesday).

So now everyone’s either signed up for an RC or been randomly assigned to one, and actual room selection began today online (though why that couldn’t have happened at the same time as the RC sign-up event remains a mystery to me) so by next week we should know who all our upper-class residents will be and what rooms they’ll be in, and we’ve already started planning a MoMac spring welcome event for April where everyone can meet each other. For now, we’ll keep plugging away at our plans for the 2014-15 year and keep the ball rolling forward for the fall 2014 opening of the new MoMac!

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