Book cover for The Faculty Factor: Developing Faculty Engagement with Living Learning Communities
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ISBN: 9781642672534

January 2023

Understanding the Roles of Faculty and Staff

Most relationships between faculty members and student affairs professionals take place within mismatched ecosystems. In many cases the residential life staff member is looking to faculty involved with LLCs for their academic expertise, as well as support for the budget, staffing, and programmatic direction of the LLCs. At the same time, faculty may have limited experience with budgets, hiring student staff, and creating student-centered programming—not to mention doing this work through the residence life office and accompanying administrative structures. Recognizing the complementary expertise of faculty and residential life staff members, however, can provide a foundation for productive partnerships. As you begin meeting with your living learning partner, take some time to research your institution or ask your partner questions to illuminate your individual backgrounds and professional demands.

Residential Life Professional

  1. Identify whether your institution is a research- or teaching-focused institution. This information can typically be found online through a simple web search.
  2. Find the tenure and promotion documents for your institution. This information may be found online through a faculty handbook, but it may be more helpful to ask a faculty member about this information.
  3. Talk with a current faculty partner about the perception of service and collaborative partnerships at your institution, understanding that it may vary by department.

Faculty Member

  1. Find out more about the experience required for the housing professionals with whom you will be working. You might find this through job listings posted online or looking at the backgrounds of the current staff.
  2. Learn about the primary focus of the residential life or housing department (administration, education, etc.). You might ask to look at an organizational chart for this division and ask about job descriptions for key partners.
  3. Talk to a faculty colleague currently participating in an LLC about their experience, paying particular attention to their perceptions of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the student affairs professionals.

Below are questions for new partnerships between faculty and residential life staff members:

Residential Life Professional

  1. Where is your faculty member in their tenure and promotion process?
  2. What campus or departmental committees have they served on and in what capacity?
  3. What is your faculty member’s primary research agenda and how would participating in an LLC further these interests?

Faculty Member

  1. How many years has the staff member been a professional, and what has been their professional path?  What are their professional goals?
  2. Was the staff member’s graduate assistantship in residential life?
  3. What areas of student affairs are they most passionate about?

Finding the Right Fit

Questions are provided for the initial meeting. In addition, self-reflection questions are provided for the faculty member. The onus should not be placed solely upon the selection committee to determine if the faculty member is a fit for working with an LLC. The program will have impacts on the faculty member personally and professionally, so they too must be reflective about their ability to engage in an LLC partnership.

Faculty Member

  1. How will the LLC partnership impact my tenure and promotion process?
  2. Are there ways I can publish about my experience or tie the experience into my current research agenda?
  3. Will I have the time necessary to devote to the students that will be part of this program?

Residential Life Professional

  1. Does this faculty member understand the responsibilities required to fully engage in the program?
  2. Does the faculty member have a passion for this specific program I am asking them to participate in?
  3. Will students enjoy being around this faculty member?

Faculty Member Self-Reflection

  1. Based upon your teaching and research expectations, how much time will you have to devote to the program?
  2. Will you be able to join the community at night or on the weekends? Additionally, will you have time to support the program during the summer?
  3. What will your family’s or partner’s role be supporting your responsibilities within the LLC?

Building the Relationship and Program

At this point, there is little that needs to be done independently. Use the following prompts to begin discussing the roles that you will each take within the LLC, the expertise you bring to the team, and the expectations you each have for one another.

  1. What should the relationship between us look like?
  2. What are the program goals and objectives, and who is responsible for reviewing or changing them?
  3. Which type of faculty role described in this chapter (support agent, collaborator, or program lead) best reflects the current program expectations? Is there a desire to have a different type of relationship or role?
  4. What resource or areas of knowledge will help us succeed?  (Examples may include program budget, residential life programming model, etc.)
  5. What are the expectations for professional accountability within the relationship between the faculty member and the residential life professional?

Telling the Story

The following prompts are provided for the faculty member and residential life professional to review and discuss together.

  1. What are the expectations for reporting for the department, division, academic program/college, and institution?
  2. What type of assessment or research will be expected (qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods)?
  3. How much research or assessment experience has the student affairs professional had in their career?
  4. What is the preferred research methodology of the faculty member?
  5. Are there colleagues, departments, or offices that could support research and assessment for the community?