Who are our faculty fellows?
It took Associate Professor of Political Science Andrew Rehfeld some time to convince his entire family to move into a college dorm.
In the past, Rehfeld’s family had opted out of a similar program at the University of Colorado, and Rehfeld said that some of his colleagues were baffled by his decision to live among students for three years. But the merits of the Faculty Fellows Program at Washington University finally convinced him, along with his family, to move into Liggett-Koenig Residential College.
“[The Faculty Fellows Program] seems to break down the barriers between the life of the mind in the classroom and the life of the mind in life,” Rehfeld said. “To an extent, it’s to show that intellectualism is a way of life and not a temporary escape from it.”
According to the Office of Residential Life’s Web site, the official goals of faculty fellows are to “provide undergraduate residents with role models or mentors and more contact with faculty members” and to “increase student and faculty understanding of faculty and student life” at Wash. U.
Rehfeld and the four other families involved in the program have a lot of power in defining and expanding these goals because the program itself is so new. The Rehfelds are the first-ever faculty family in Liggett-Koenig, having moved in this past August. The William Greenleaf Eliot Residential College housed the first ever faculty family in 1998, a position currently occupied by Associate Professor of French Tili Boon Cuillé and family.
There are three other faculty fellows living on the South 40: Ian MacMullen in Brookings, Joseph Thompson in Park-Mudd and Asad Ahmed in Wayman-Crow.
Programs can range from essential to strange. For instance, Rehfeld has started a weekly reading of Dr. Seuss books with the intention of extricating the author’s intellectual and social arguments.
In most cases, faculty fellows make decisions alongside those whom Rehfeld calls the “acronymal leaders”: residential college directors (RCDs), residential advisors (RAs), residential peer mentors (RPMs) and residential peer health educators (RPHEs). Cooperation among these parties is vital to getting work done.
Rehfeld is currently pushing for a Liggett-Koenig field trip to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Ill. The RAs of Liggett-Koenig are taking care of the logistical work: funding, publicity, etc.
“One of the things the University does really well,” Rehfeld said, “is both wanting to extract from me what I can give it, but also protecting me from some of the administrative stuff.”
Another thing he thinks the school does really well is making the living situation palatable to families, especially with teenage children who are used to full houses with lots of privacy. Many of the faculty fellows have families with children, even pets. Rehfeld and his wife, Miggie, have a 13-year-old daughter, Emma, a 14-year-old son, Hoben, and a dog named Max.
The faculty apartments are big enough to accommodate a family of that size. Rehfeld’s has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a living room and a patio.
Emma was especially worried about privacy. When Rehfeld brought her complaint up to the administration, they converted a nearby trash room into an office just for her.
Because the Rehfeld’s apartment is located on the bottom floor of Liggett, he finds it easier to interact with students in the lower part of the building. However, he thinks that all students can get involved in his activities and that all the students who get involved enjoy them.
“I don’t know what the negative comments would be,” he said. “ ‘I don’t like that you’re giving me free food?’ ”