Prof's literally at home in the halls - Mar 27, 2014 - Residence Life - UW-Superior News and Events

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Prof's literally at home in the halls

Posted on Mar 27, 2014
Students at UW-Superior's Ross and Hawkes residence halls are doing double-takes these days as they pad across The Link in their sweats and jammies.
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Profs literally at home in the halls

Yes, that is Brent Opall, their Business and Econ professor, hanging out, reading and chatting with students long after the school day is done.

Of course he is -- because he lives there too.

Opall is the first faculty member to take part in UW-Superior's Faculty in Residence program, a pilot project in which a faculty member lives in a residence hall apartment for a semester or year.

"It's been great," said Opall, who moved in spring semester. "The staff has been really welcoming and several of the students volunteered to help me move in."

Student success

Faculty in residence programs have been used for years at select liberal arts universities. While such programs have some structured content, they also allow students and faculty members to interact informally in a more relaxed setting.

"The research shows that the more involved faculty are with the student experience, the more motivated students are to achieve academically," Opall says. "It impacts learning in a very positive way."

Opall has regular contact hours where he's available in The Link, the newly remodeled main lounge area between Ross and Hawkes halls. "I'll bring my laptop, or I'll bring something to read and I'll hang out," he says.

He'll do some formal and some informal mentoring, He also will support some existing activities in the halls, such as the work of student academic resource coordinators who champion academic work amongst their peers.

Opall surveyed other UW System campuses and believes UW-Superior is the only one to offer such a program.

Payoff for faculty

Housing staff and Opall are gathering data on the pilot project and researching other faculty in residence programs nationally. They'll use that information to make sure the program can sustain itself.

Faculty members get free rent while they live in the dorm, but there's another payoff, Opall says. "For me, it gives me an understanding of the needs of today's college student. I would hope it would inform my teaching in the classroom, learning what works and doesn't work, how to handle people's different learning styles, that sort of thing."

News Contact: Tom Wilkowske | twilkows{atuws}
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