Joseph Cheatle, Michigan State University


Joseph Cheatle is an Associate Director for the Writing Center at Michigan State University and teaches in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures. As an Associate Director of the Writing Center, he helps administer six satellite writing center locations in five residential neighborhoods, working closely with neighborhood staff to provide academic services for students. He also coordinates collaboration between the writing center and different partners on campus (particularly with residential learning communities), and helps create strategic plans for student success. His research focus is on writing center theory and praxis, including expanding writing center services to new students and providing improved services. The focus for his participation in the seminar’s multi-institutional research is exploring the relationship between residential learning communities and the writing center, both high-impact practices. He is interested in using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to collaboratively investigate this relationship.

Warren Chiang, Stanford University

Warren Chiang works as the Director of Residential Programs at Stanford University where we oversee several residential learning communities and work collaboratively to facilitate the overall residential strategy of the campus. Stanford has over 80+ unique residences which houses more than 95% of all undergraduates for 4 years. My primary research interest in this project is in assessing the effectiveness of our newest humanities-focused RLC.

Jennifer Eidum, Elon University


Jennifer Eidum is Assistant Professor of English in Writing Studies and Faculty Director of the Global Neighborhood at Elon University. She received her PhD in English Language and Rhetoric from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her teaching and research interests include facilitating metacognition in writing classrooms, teaching English as a second language, and pedagogies supporting linguistic diversity.  Specifically, Jennifer is interested in the role residential learning communities can play in facilitating metacognition, peer and faculty mentoring, and in the case of Elon’s Global Neighborhood, how RLCs can foster meaningful cross-cultural connections for students.

Ghada Endick, Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Ghada Endick is the Director of Residence Education and Staff Development at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Ghada’s research interests focus on how residential learning community models support the transition and success of first-generation students.   In addition to how does living in an LLC improve persistence and how synergistic relationships formed with various academic and student affairs departments connected to the RLC support the students in their degree attainment. Lastly, what characteristics living in an LLC provide the greatest support for first-generation students specifically from underrepresented populations and what are those best practices deployed at peer universities to support these students.

Richard Gebauer, Cabrini University


Richie Gebauer is the Director of the First-Year Experience at Cabrini University, located outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is the University’s Learning Community Program that exists as the foundation of the institution’s first-year experience. Though research has shown that residential learning communities (RLCs) are effective in retaining college-prepared students, a gap in the literature exists around the impact of RLCs on specifically at-risk learners. Through this Research Seminar, Gebauer hopes to explore how academically at-risk, first-year students interpret their RLC experience and identify the factors academically at-risk, first-year RLC students attribute to increased levels of motivation. With the changing demographics of students entering both two and four-year institutions, it’s important that this topic is explored through multi-institutional research. This research could lend itself to creating an honest dialogue resulting in the identification of a clear and concise definition of what “ academically at-risk” means across institutions of higher learning.

Cliff Haynes, University of Florida

Cliff Haynes is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration/Student Personnel in Higher Education at the University of Florida. I teach courses related to student affairs administration, student development theory, and qualitative research methods. I also serve as the program coordinator for the online Student Personnel in Higher Education program. His research agenda focuses on student learning outside of the classroom. Three subthemes define his research: residential learning communities (RLCs), faculty engagement in out-of-class interactions with students, and graduate student services. Earlier positivist studies have used quantitative methods to examine the benefits for students in out-of-class experiences, and my research helps address this gap in the literature by using qualitative methodology to further explore these experiences.

Samantha Kramer, University of Central Oklahoma

Samantha Kramer is the Learning Communities Coordinator at University of Central Oklahoma, a large, public institution just north of Oklahoma City. She is an entity of their housing and residential life department and has been in the position for about a year-and-a-half. Her sole responsibility is to develop their RLC program, which was recently restructured to fit campus needs. Her research interests lie in faculty engagement in RLCs and ways in which RLC programs  can identify and develop successful faculty partners.

Margaret Leary, University of San Diego


Margaret Leary is the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Programs in the division of student affairs at the University of San Diego. Among other responsibilities, she serves as the co-director of the Living Learning Community Program. The program involves a great deal of collaboration between academic and student affairs. Her primary research interest in this area is examining the curricular and co-curricular elements of the program and their effects on student success. Of particular interest is the implementation of a new core curriculum in Fall 2017 that includes a new first-year academic integration component that will be delivered through the Living Learning Community program.

Justin Leibowitz, University of Louisville


Justin Leibowitz serves as the Assistant Director of Residential Life and is a first-year doctoral student studying counseling and personnel services with a specialization in college student personnel at the University of Louisville. His research interests include Residential Learning Communities that can positively impact the persistence and graduation rates for students who work while in school, including part-time, full-time, co-op, and internship roles. He is also interested in Residential Learning Communities that improve the experience and success of students within the LGBTQIA+ community. Finally, he has interest in how Residential Learning Communities impact, if at all, students’ choices to return to college as part of the financial nexus theoretical framework.”

Lara Lomicka Anderson, The University of South Carolina

Lara Lomicka (PhD – Penn State) is Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at the University of South Carolina, where she serves as Faculty Principal of Preston Residential College. In 2009 her teaching was nationally recognized by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and Cengage Publishers as she received the Excellence in Foreign Language Instruction Using Technology award. In 2011 she was honored by the French Government as a Chevalier dans l’ordre des palmes academiques. She regularly conducts workshops, consults with language programs, and gives talks on technology in language teaching. For the purposes of this cohort, she would be interested in exploring topics related the profile of the highly engaged RC student, the role/profile of the faculty principal, successful RCs, relationships between students and faculty in RCs and how they are perceived.

Charity Lovitt, University of Washington Bothell

Charity Flener Lovitt is a Lecturer in the Physical Science Division in the School of STEM, faculty advisor for the STEM living learning community, and Lecturer in First Year and Pre-Major Programs at University of Washington Bothell. UW Bothell is one of the fastest growing and most diverse 4 year institutions in Washington State. She is part of a team that is in the process of developing and expanding the RLC program. As they grow, they want to answer the question “What aspects of the UW Bothell RLC help increase social cohesion among a diverse student body?”  Secondly, development of social cohesion comes in part from adoption of a social identity (scientist, student, career) that is distinct from a personal identity (gender, race, socioeconomic). “How do RLCs contribute to identity formation, especially with under-represented students, and does identity formation lead to increased retention?”

Chris Marquart, St. Lawrence University

Chris is the Assistant Dean of Student Life and Director of Residence Life & Housing at St. Lawrence University. In this role, he serves as the University’s chief housing officer and works closely with faculty to coordinate the University’s First-Year Program (FYP) – a cornerstone living-learning program about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. In addition to his work in Residence Life and First-Year Programs, Chris has experience in the areas of new student orientation, student conduct, and intercollegiate athletics. He recently completed his doctorate at the University of Vermont, with his dissertation titled “Exploring the Reciprocal Relationship Between a Comprehensive Living-Learning Program and Institutional Culture: A Narrative Inquiry Case Study.” Chris is interested in continuing his work in this area by focusing on how to best support the cultivation of student dispositions and skills indispensable for creating inclusive communities within residential communities.

Tina Muller, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


Tina Muller is passionate about exploring intersections between student life, classroom and career experiences; engaging students to “learn by doing.” When she is not developing new learning communities, modernizing current processes, or assessing initiatives at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, you can find her writing or answering the question “why?” for the billionth time. Her research interests include collaborating with faculty and staff to design and assess shared goals and strategies in residential communities to enhance learning and bridge achievement gaps for underrepresented students. In her role as Associate Director of Residential Life & Education, she leads partnership efforts University-wide creating teams that help students unlock their potential and explore whole-system thinking. As a professional with 20 years of experience, she’s worked in University, newspaper and corporate communication settings in Washington, NY and California. Tina earned a M.Ed., Pacific Lutheran University, APC in Marketing, NYU and her B.A. in Communication.

Joe Murray, Bucknell University

Joseph L. Murray is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the College Student Personnel Program at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA. Joe is interested in examining students’ perceptions of environmental characteristics that are most conducive to learning and personal growth within residential learning communities. This includes each of the four facets of environmental design identified by Strange and Banning: (1) physical, (2) aggregate, (3) organizational, and (4) socially constructed. He also hopes to explore variation in responses to residential learning experiences, which might reflect disciplinary differences in student culture, structural differences in the organizational and physical environments, or interactive effects of multiple environmental dimensions. This project relates to previous research that he has conducted, focusing on the relationship between formality of campus design and conventionality of student culture within American colleges and universities.

Craig Seager, University of Central Arkansas


Craig Seager is an Assistant Director for Housing and Residence Life at the University of Central Arkansas. He has served in this role for the past eight years overseeing the university’s traditional first-year residence halls, upperclassmen apartments, Greek Village, and summer conferences operations. He also serves as staff advisor for the department’s student-run Resident Housing Association program and Social Justice League program. Craig is also an adjunct professor for the College Student Personnel Services and Administration master’s program at the university. Craig’s primary research interests include the impact of the physical environment on Residential Learning Communities (RLCs) and investigating factors that are critical to RLC success, regardless of size and design, to aid in the RLC development and implementation process. His doctoral dissertation titled “The Development and Field-Testing of a Living-Learning Program Assessment Instrument” is currently serving as a guide in the development of an RLC centered around women’s empowerment and/or women’s health/issues.

John Sopper, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

John R. Sopper serves as Program Chair for Grogan Residential College and Adjunct Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. As Program Chair, John oversees all curricular, co-curricular, faculty development and administrative aspects of a residential learning community serving 300 first and second year undergraduates pursuing majors in the University’s professional schools. As an adjunct faculty member, John teaches courses in modern religious thought and social ethics, Islam, and religion and culture.  John has served as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Co-Chair of the University’s 2014 Quality Enhancement Planning process.  His current research interests include investigating students’ beliefs and attitudes about learning, motivation and persistence, understanding how “high impact” pedagogies work, and faculty identity formation.  John holds a BA from Brown University and an MA in Religious Studies from Princeton. He is currently working toward a PhD in Educational Leadership.

Rishi Sriram, Baylor University

Rishi Sriram serves as Associate Professor of Higher Education & Student Affairs, Graduate Program Director for the Department of Educational Leadership, and Residential College Faculty Steward of Brooks Residential College–a living-learning community of approximately 400 students, at Baylor University. Dr. Sriram spent eight years as a higher education and student affairs administrator before beginning his current role as a faculty member. As Assistant Dean for Student Learning & Engagement, he played a primary role in the development of residential colleges and living-learning programs at Baylor, as well as the establishment of a faculty-in-residence program. His administrative work won him a NASPA Excellence Award (Gold Honoree) and a Promising Practices Award from the NASPA Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community. At Baylor, he was selected as Chair of the Faculty-in-Residence Council. Nationally, he serves on the executive team of the newly formed Residential College Society.

Jill Stratton, Washington University in St. Louis


Jill Stratton, Ph.D. serves as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Residential Learning at Washington University in St. Louis. With over 20+ years of experience in higher education, most of her experience comes from the practitioner perspective, but she also has a deep interest in the literature and research on residential learning communities. In addition to her administrative role, Jill teaches in Psychology and Leadership and co-directs the Identity Literacy project—a one credit diversity course anchored in the residential colleges. She is interested in exploring how a 1-credit diversity course impacts student learning around identity, the residential college community and its focus on diversity and inclusion, and the overall engagement with the university and local community. Exploring the impact of such a course through a multi-institutional would strengthen the research that is lacking in this area and contribute new and innovated knowledge to the field.

Mary Ellen Wade, Loyola University Maryland


Mary Ellen Wade is Associate Director of Messina, First-Year Living-Learning Program at Loyola University Maryland. At Loyola, Mary Ellen coordinates the planning, implementation and evaluation of direct assessment initiatives and fosters development of pre-packaged modules for first-year seminar facilitators to utilize in their Messina courses. She serves as Co-chair of the Research Consultation Group in the Division of Student Development. Prior to Messina, Mary Ellen served as an Assistant Director of Student Life at Loyola for five years. Her research interests in this seminar include exploring integrated learning within the context of the residential experience through the collection of direct evidence. Mary Ellen earned both her M.A. in Higher Education Administration and B.A. in History, Secondary Education Certification from Rowan University.

Sue Weintraub, Saint Anselm College. Manchester, NH


Sue Weintraub is director of residential life and education at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH. In this position, she has worked to create several varieties of residential learning communities on the campus as part of the student affairs division and in partnership with academic departments. She helped design and open in the Fall 2015 a new residential hall with the institutional goal of creating a unique space for sophomores and juniors as a “living learning commons”. She is currently a doctoral student at Plymouth State University In Plymouth, NH working on her dissertation on residential learning communities under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen Norris. Sue is interested in exploring learning communities in different institutional contexts and environments and finding ways to bring about more active engagement of all learning community participants.