Stevenson University offers programs and clubs for students to get involved to make their stay more welcoming and enjoyable, but Faculty in the Halls asks faculty members to help welcome residents.
Faculty in the Halls was started in 2013 by Jeff Kelly, associate vice president and dean of students at Stevenson University when he convinced six faculty members, Leeanne Bell McManus, associate professor of business communication; Art Fifer, assistant professor of information systems; Glenn Johnston, chair of the department of public history; Romas Laskauskas, assistant professor of business; Christine Noya, assistant professor of business communication; and Chip Rouse, associate professor of business communication, to help begin a program that would combine academics with residence life.
After the first year of the program, Johnston was replaced by Laurel Moody, assistant professor of nursing. Since then, three other faculty members have joined the group: Joe Matanoski, associate professor of biology; Kim Tucker, director of Center for Environmental Stewardship and assistant professor of biology; and Christine Moran, dean of student success.
The initial group of professors worked in the first-year residence halls to offer their knowledge, relying on their communication skills to help new residents feel comfortable in their new home. Most of the programs offered by the faculty in Western Run, Susquehanna and Patapsco residence halls were social or cultural and offered on a regular basis, including tailgates before football games, walking tours of Baltimore, trivia nights, ice cream socials, CPR certification and a variety of monthly activities. In addition, most of the faculty members hold weekly office hours in the lobby of each residence hall, available for a variety of student needs.
Last year, when three more faculty members were added to the program, they were assigned to the sophomore residence halls. The offerings in these spaces were mostly based around educational programs that helped the more seasoned students ask questions about their environment, career and goals.
Noya explained that the program helps the students as “it allows them to feel welcomed; or if they feel they are in sticky situation, they have a resource to go confide in and receive advice to help get out of it.” She added that the program “helps the parents know that their child is not alone; and they know the faculty members more than as just professors within the school.”
Faculty in the Halls has based its foundation on the premise that “if students have faculty members to talk to about their classes and majors, about their goals and anxieties, they might be more inclined to stay at Stevenson,” said Rouse. This program is considered a success not just for the students in the residence halls, but also for the faculty members who are helping the students become acclimated to campus.